We’re live at the Windows Phone 8 launch in San Francisco, good thing Hurricane Sandy is not going to make a pit stop here. Having said that, Windows Phone 8 has just been officially announced, where it is touted to deliver Live Tiles on your smartphone, similar to how Windows 8 works on your desktop to ensure you remain up to date with your friends and family via different apps. One thing that is interesting is, Windows Phone 8 carries a spanking new Lock screen powered by Live Apps. Basically, it automatically surfaces photos, notifications and contents from your favorite apps, and you choose what you want to see – from news to sports scores and Facebook updates.

There is also a dedicated Facebook app for Windows Phone 8, letting you connect to your phone and feel even more personal. Woe to the person whose Windows Phone 8 is stolen though…

Apart from that, there is a new version of Twitter which was specially built for Windows Phone 8, and we also saw the new version of Skype just for Windows Phone 8 that comes highly recommended. Makes sense, considering how Microsoft owns Skype. Skype on Windows Phone 8 is always on to make sure you always receive the latest messages and incoming calls, and yet does not add more strain to your phone’s battery.

Oh yeah, we also caught a glimpse of Angry Birds tiles – Roost, Space and Star Wars. 46 of the top 50 apps on all the other mobile operating platforms will make it to Windows Phone 8 – including Temple Run.

Pandora for Windows Phone 8 will arrive in early 2013, where you will be able to enjoy one year of ad-free music, now how about that?

Windows Phone 8 will also compress data on the cloud before a particular webpage or service is “served” to your handset, making sure that you consume far less data/bandwidth each month than normal, which is ideal for folks who do not have an unlimited monthly data plan.

Kid’s Corner in Windows Phone 8 (see image above) creates a separate “space” on your handset that ensures they can watch their movies, play games, and basically enjoy all the kiddy stuff without compromising on your adult workspace. This is somewhat like a different user account on your Windows machine that we’ve been so used to all these years.

Jessica Alba also took to the stage, where she shared about how her Windows Phone 8-powered smartphone is really an extension of herself. Mostly marketing speak, and the folks attending the press conference was described by her as one of the nicest bunch of tech folks she’s ever met. Sweet.

Rooms is another concept introduced in Windows Phone 8, which is more or less a more advanced version of groups in your contact list, where all banter and other stuff shared will only be among that particular group – something folks who love organizing stuff would definitely appreciate. It sure as heck helps make life a whole lot easier when you want to fire something away to your fishing buddies, while keeping track of what your book reading club mates are currently flipping through.

Skydrive offers 7GB of free cloud storage, giving you complete control of your photo options, and your photos will stay there for as long as you want, and you arrange them according to your liking. Definitely another plus point for jumping aboard the Windows Phone 8 bandwagon. The only thing it needs now are developers to churn out apps that people cannot live without, and Microsoft will most likely have a winner here.

Will Windows Phone 8 shine and gain more market share, and at whose expense will it be – Android or iOS? Do you think that Blackberry has a fighting chance at all?

Filed in Cellphones. Read more about Microsoft and Windows Phone 8.

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