Windows Phone 8 is a massive improvement over Windows Phone 7, with a more appealing user interface, enhanced business features and support for devices with higher specifications. Microsoft still needs to put some work into its ecosystem, as the platform still suffers from a lack of applications.
Great user interface, good selection of producitivty tools, support for higher-specification devices
Can be confusing at first, lacking in apps
Windows Phone 8 OEM hardware requirements:
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4
RAM: Minimum 512MB RAM (1GB for WXGA devices)
Storage: minimum 4GB flash
Display: Minimum WVGA ulti-touch capacitive screen, minimum four simultaneous points, GPU with DirectX and Direct3D graphics support
Ports: microUSB 2.0 required
Wireless: GPS, 802.11b/g and Bluetooth required
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity and ambient light sensors required
Camera: Rear Autofocus camera with LED or Xenon flash, optional front camera (both VGA or better)
Microsoft has found it tough since Windows Phone 7 arrived on the scene two years ago, and has struggled to shake off fierce competition from Android and iOS.
However, the company is looking to shake things up a little with the launch of Windows Phone 8, which it hopes will lure customers away from its rivals with its quirky user interface, great business features and unique devices.
V3 got its hands on the Windows Phone 8-powered HTC Windows Phone 8X smartphone ahead of Microsoft's launch, and we put it through its paces to see if it really can take on the smartphone big boys.
The first thing that will strike you about Windows Phone 8 is its new customisable user interface.
It's by no means as customisable as Android, which comes with everything from resizable widgets and live wallpapers, but that's one of the things we like about Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft has kept things simple by enabling users to resize its Live Tiles to be small, medium or large, which although it doesn't sound all that exciting, brings a new lease of life to Windows Phone.
We found this makes the Windows Phone experience much more personal as well as keeping things nice and nippy too, as Windows Phone 8 isn't bloated with heavy widgets and multiple homescreens.
Microsoft has added a number of new themes to Windows Phone 8 as well, so you can now have 20 different colours to choose from. We found this made it much easier to match the Windows Phone interface to the colour of the device, a definite plus point for those who like to keep things coordinated.
The Windows Phone lock screen has also been revamped in Windows Phone 8. Catching up with its rival operating systems, Windows Phone 8 now has notifications on its lock screen, and users can select which they wish to display, be it Facebook, Twitter, Messages or Emails.
While we really enjoy the look and feel of the Windows Phone 8 user interface, we're not sure everybody will agree. Those switching from an Android, iOS or BlackBerry device might find the unfamiliarity of it all a bit too much.
Sure, this is the same gripe we had with Windows Phone 7, but we still find parts of the operating system difficult to adjust to. Facebook and Twitter, for example, look almost unrecognisable,