Microsoft has used its opening slot at the Mobile World Congress show to announce that Windows Phone has replaced Blackberry as the world’s third most popular mobile operating system.
This is big news for the Redmond firm as it looks to close the gap behind Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, which are in first and second place respectively.
Key to Microsoft’s success in this endeavour will be the way in which it can appeal to certain demographics. The platform is proving particularly popular in new markets at the moment and a drive to make the software available on more budget handsets is expected to push growth further.
Despite this focus Joe Belfiore (corporate vice president of Windows Phone) says that the imminent purchase of Nokia will see Microsoft continue its innovation efforts “at the top end”.
Critics have, in the past, pointed out that Windows Phone lacks many of the applications found on its rival systems, although Microsoft appears to be working hard to address the issue. Indeed, one of the most prominent absentees, Facebook Messenger, was made available to users earlier this month.
Handsets running Windows Phone will also be boosted by improved security features. Business users in particular are expected to benefit from better Virtual Private Network (VPN) functionality, while a range of new dual-sim devices should help growth in emerging markets.
With the Nokia deal yet to be confirmed, there has been talk suggesting that the Finnish firm is about to release an Android-powered device. When questioned about the chances, Mr Belfiore said: “We already have a terrific engineering relationship with Nokia. But they’re an independent company and we haven’t yet completed our acquisition. Certainly they will do some things that we’re excited about and some things that maybe we’re a little less excited about.”
While Microsoft’s showing at the Mobile World Congress was strongly focused on software, Korean tech firm Samsung took the opportunity to unveil a range of new hardware, including the Galaxy S5 smartphone and its latest smartwatch.