With the launch of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft and its partners have launched a full assault on the Google/Apple duopoly that currently rules the smartphone marketplace.

Microsoft’s partners at this time include Nokia, HTC and Samsung. Nokia has released the Lumia 820 and 920, while HTC also has two smartphones on the market – the HTC WP8S and the higher end HTC WP8X. Samsung has the one model – the Samsung Ativ S.

The Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the most hyped models, and features optical image stabilization; the HTC Windows Phone 8X, comes with Beats Audio; and the Samsung ATIV S, at 4.8 inches, is the largest Windows Phone device on the market – labeled by some as “a mini-tablet”.

Windows Phone 8’s is particularly critical to Nokia, which has ported its entire smartphone line to the Microsoft platform. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said recently that it was a risky but necessary bet. “We recognized that the industry had shifted,” said Elop, at a launch event in New York City in September. “It had shifted from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems.”

Nokia’s chips are therefore all in, but HTC and Samsung have less to lose, with Samsung in particular dominating the smartphone with its Android-based Galaxy S3 line.

There is certainly a mountain to climb for Microsoft. They had just 3.6% of the smartphone OS market in September, down from 3.8% in June, according to Comscore. Google’s Android OS led all others, with a share of 52.5%, while Apple’s iPhone held a share of 34.3%. RIM’s stake fell to 8.4%, from 10.7%.

A table comparing the different models is shown below:

While iOS and Android have tended to converge in terms of look and feel, Windows Phone 8 offers another totally different cognitive experience with Live Tiles.

My personal opinion is that there is likely to be a significant segment of the market that is drawn towards this new paradigm and this may be to Microsoft’s ultimate advantage.

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