Microsoft touts Windows Phone 8

Microsoft – in a major effort to improve its flagging mobile market share – today unveiled the latest iteration of its Windows Phone software. 

The company talked up a number of new features – along with details and pricing for a range of Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia, Samsung and HTC – each with their own differentiated designs, colors and features.

The devices will be available in November at AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the US, as well as at carriers and retailers around the world.

As noted above, Redmond highlighted a number of new features during its presentation, including Live Apps, Kid’s Corner, Rooms, Wallet and NFC and an upgraded version of Skype.

Essentially, live apps can best be described as a feature that displays relevant information right on the Start screen, such as the Groupon deal of the day, flight information, Facebook feeds and news headlines.

Meanwhile, Data Sense helps conserve user data allowance by compressing Web images, deferring tasks to free Wi-Fi and automatically adjusting usage as you get closer to your plan limits.

And last, but certainly not least, Windows Phone 8 offers full support for new wallet technologies, including payments via near-field communications (NFC). Essentially, the Wallet can be used to store debit, credit, loyalty and membership card information on your phone.