Microsoft has formally launched the Windows Phone 8 operating system in a bid to reclaim smartphone market share.

Windows Phone 8 makes big changes while remaining true to its core. It’s sharp, colorful, clean, and simple, but also hip and a bit exuberant. New features include a surge of NFC actions, greater customization, and a heavy peppering of more-minor additions and adjustments, but it’s the tiled-based interface that’s the most unique and defining characteristic of the entire update. On the whole, it is a worthy refresh, and one that gives Microsoft’s mobile platform the boost it needs to compete against Android and iOS.

It boasted that the system’s internet browser, Internet Explorer 10, was the fastest on any mobile, and also suggested it offered the closest integration with video chat app Skype.

Microsoft had a 3.1% share of the handset system market in the April-to-June quarter, according to IDC.
HTC, Nokia and Samsung have all unveiled flagship WP8 devices over recent months, but had been unable to release them while they waited for Microsoft to sign off its software.The low figure has discouraged some developers from building apps for it.

The handsets will now go on sale in Europe at the weekend and rollout worldwide during November.