Microsoft pulled out all the stops to introduce its new mobile OS -- but will it be enough to tempt iOS and Android users?
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The presentation seemed to be winding down when Belfiore announced that he wanted to announce one more speaker. Given the timing, attendees might have guessed that only Steve Ballmer could warrant a show-capping slot -- and indeed, after a video confirmed suspicions by starting with voiceover and culminating with the CEO's image, the Microsoft chief strode onto stage.
Ballmer spent several minutes recapping his company's busy week, which included not only the launch of Windows 8 but also "heartening" crowds queuing up at Microsoft stores to try out the much-ballyhooed Surface tablet. He reiterated that WP8 represents a new benchmark for personalized phone experiences while also touting the Windows ecosystem as both a unifying tool for users and a great opportunity for developers.
Finally, he turned to "new killer hardware," asserting that the new WP8 phones will be among the very best pieces of equipment within the smartphone form factor. While that remark will no doubt inspire disagreement among iPhone partisans, Ballmer highlighted several devices to substantiate his case.
Ballmer first praised Nokia, which is exclusively focused on Windows Phone and sells more such devices than any other manufacturer in the market. Holding a Nokia Lumia 920, the Microsoft CEO touted the device's PureMotion camera, which offers image stabilization to produce sharp photos even if the user has shaky hands. Ballmer also lauded Nokia's focus on wireless charging.
He additionally highlighted the Samsung ATIV S, noting that it offers a 4.8-inch screen while remaining very thin and light, and the Windows Phone 8X from HTC, which he said has a form factor inspired by the leading lines and colors of WP8's Live Tiles. The HTC handset also offers superior audio, he stated, thanks to Beats Audio technology and a built-in amp, and is ideal for Skype due to its wide-angle, front-facing camera lens.
"This is the time for Windows Phone 8," he stated, promising that, "You won't be able to turn on a TV or open up a magazine without seeing a Windows 8 ad."