It has been a tough year for Microsoft. Their mobile platform has struggled to gain any momentum in the market. The likes of both Android and iOS have made it especially hard for competitors to enter the market and compete on any realistic level. We knew Windows Phone wasn't doing quite as well as Microsoft or analyst had predicted, but were quite surprised to learn that it has only managed to garner one percent smartphone market share after nearly 12 months on US shores.

I have a feeling that will soon change.

Two weeks ago, Verizon stated that they believe there is room for yet another smartphone ecosystem to thrive among the two current giants. There are slim pickings, and the debate on which one will manage to come out on top is a long and futile one. But recent changes are all playing in Microsoft's favor.

First and foremost, the Mango update has brought a serious breath of life to Windows Phone. Mango boasts a much faster browser, turn-by-turn navigation, task switching, and over 500 other features that could finally allow WP to compete with the likes of Android and iOS on a serious level. Admittedly not a fan of Windows Phone before, I've been using Mango for several days now and have been thoroughly impressed. Windows Phone is finally out of the infant stage and is ready to play.

Now that most of the software gripes have been resolved, the majority of Microsoft's problems lie with hardware.

Microsoft mandates fairly strict hardware requirements to their partners. This does have its benefits. It offers relatively the same experience between all Windows Phone devices. Whether you go from using a Samsung-made phone to a HTC-built device, since they use essentially the same software and hardware, the experience is generally the same across the board.

That said, this can also lead to some problems. In a market where Android phones are boasting bigger, faster multi-core processors and all sorts of other gimmicky features (like 3D and biometric scanners), Windows Phones have been quickly forgotten – lost in the crowd. They are more or less viewed as underpowered and dated.

Microsoft did change their hardware requirements a few months ago, and much to everyone's surprise, they decided not to go multi-core just yet. They simply changed their minimum processor requirements from a Qualcomm MSM8x50 to a MSM8x55. The difference is, Windows Phone doesn't need over the top hardware for outstanding performance. Hardware-accelerated graphics and solid software make performance buttery smooth, even if the device is only equipped with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor. Not only that, but their decision has a lot to do with Windows 8 and supporting the same architectures between the two platforms, and the fact that Windows Phone in not coded to support multiple processors or multi-threaded applications at this time. When you consider this, it only makes sense for Microsoft to pass on multi-core chips for now, seeing as the only difference users would notice is a chunk out of their battery life. Microsoft does have plans for multi-core processors in the future, they're just not ready yet.

So if Microsoft doesn't need over the top specs to compete, how do they differentiate? Well, they answered that question months ago; we simply have yet to see the fruits of their labor. You may recall that billion dollars that Microsoft threw at Nokia. (You know, the billion dollars that made Nokia forget about MeeGo?)

Nokia's hardware is among the best in the world. In my honest opinion, they are the only company out there who can rival Apple's hardware and build quality. And Microsoft has Nokia all to themselves. (Oh, how I would love to see a Nokia-made Android phone.) The problem, however, is Nokia's relationship with Stateside wireless providers. If Microsoft can mend those wounds, the Nokia deal could prove to be the sole factor that brings Windows Phone into the limelight.

Nokia World is later this month and I have a feeling it's going to be all about Windows Phone. Well, mostly about it anyway. I expect to see the Sea Ray and can only hope to find out what the Sabre is. I have to admit, this Mango update and approaching Nokia hardware actually have me excited for Windows Phone ... for a change.

What about you, guys and gals? Do you believe Nokia can pull Windows Phone out of this slump and over the first hurdle? Or will carrier relations stand in the way? Will you buy a Nokia-made Windows Phone when it releases? I know I will.

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21 Reactions to this post

"Can Mango and Nokia hardware help bolster Windows Phone's chances in the marketplace?"

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Harold Woodley With mango, MS is on its way... What MS needs is better advertising.. iPhone excels at advertising..If mango is advertised properly in U.S., it will thrive. Overseas with Nokia onboard, MS will do well....
Terry Davis Aaron, I dare you to do the 30 day test with a WP7 device
Kamron Rustamov Yes I have wp7
Patrick DeCastro Yes, yes, everyone in the know are aware that The latest iteration of BB OS and WP7 copied the best parts of webOS. Which is why I'm moving to wp7.5 when it's time to renew my contract. My Pre+ just don't cut it anymore, but I still have my Touchpad. HP sux and I'll never buy from them again, even if they miraculously revive r&d for webOS devices.
Juan Carlos Munoz By far webOS is still the best for mobile. I've tried all the other os's out there. And yes android is the worst. Ios needs a new ui dedign
Juan Carlos Munoz With their multitasking feature. Why don't people ever point that out.
Juan Carlos Munoz Windows p7 copied webOS.
Nic Gruwell Windows will bounce back with windows phone 7. 5. android is a gimmick and sucks the life out of all batteries in a 20 foot radius
Richard Capo I have had all the iPhones,5 Androids . I decided to by a Samsung Focus of eBay and try WP7. I have to say I love it. I know it may not have a mega App store but after making a list of all the apps that I need, I found out that they are all in In WP marketplace. I love speech to text. I rarely type my text,much better than Androids attempt.
Sandeep Murali Love mango. Ain't gonna trade it for a thing in this world. Simply the most thought out UX in the market at the moment. All that's lacking now is quality hardware.
Sergio Nayar I think of it as the last draw for both companies, specially Nokia. It has to be a success for both companies to remain in the mobile business.
Herman Guerra Mango s bar is set to catch up...its not that high. You can make the ui flip and tumble smoothly but in the end its still ugly and they won't let you do anything about it. Come to think of it...is it really your phone or are they just letting you use it for a fee?
Ramon Quintero I think phonedog hates wp7. But look at all they did In a year! 2 updates to there os and some android devices are still getting GB which came out last December lol
Cameron Biggs I have to say that all the talk about Microsoft having a horrible year in the mobile arena is interesting... I mean, we are talking about only one year of Windows Phone being relevant against iOS and Android having years ahead to iron things out. However, the rate in which Microsoft is updating/implementing features to their phones is much faster than either other mobile platform. As a Sony PS3 owner I remember when Xbox came out and we all said the same thing we are saying about their phone buisness, now look. I don't count Microsoft out of anything. They too a a billion dollar company. That doesn't happen for no reason.
Rigan Ace Torres I agree Ahmad. Android is whack. I actually like the new windows devices and rims new os.
Nathan Griffin I've had all the operating systems and android is by far the worst the iphone is over rated and at the moment I prefer the windows platform, yeah it needs some tweaks but its going in the right direction
Deepak Bhakoo I just shifted from android to wp7 and i love it. I dnt know why phonedog doesnt like it.
Ahmad Crofton i dont see how people can say that micro. has had a rough year...they set their goal so high... so it looks as if they arent doing anything compared to the operating systems that have been out for more years than it... and plus... they arent doing like google, and marketing their phones by copying others... mc is walking their own steps... mc has only been doing this new os for a yr...
Ahmad Crofton android is trash
Mark Fisher Jr. I think android is taking over. Android is the best out of all the smartphone operating systems.
Fonzy Paniagua Hell yeah!!!

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