One thing's certain. Microsoft never has to worry about being sued by Apple or Samsung for copying their mobile operating systems.
Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 OS for mobile devices is radically different from either the Apple iPhone's iOS or the Android. But just because it's different doesn't mean it isn't an elegant, efficient and easy way of navigating through a phone.
Windows Phone 8 is the latest upgrade to the mobile platform that uses an interface called Metro, which employs large tiles instead of icons. The tiles not only are buttons the user presses to open certain functions, such as starting music or entering voicemail, but they also display real-time notifications that are updated on the fly like on-screen widgets. So, from the main home screen, the user can see on the email tile whether there are emails to read.
There's also Xbox integration, so video game enthusiasts who own an Xbox 360 can see their gaming progress and gamer tag on their phones. The new version also includes SmartGlass, a nifty and useful feature that lets users navigate the Xbox 360's menu.
Swipe the screen to the left and you're treated to a list of all your apps. The new OS is smooth when scrolling, with no stuttering or waiting while the tiles are updated (Android phones still seem to be a little more clunky when it comes scrolling through a screen).
In the end, though, an operating system is only as good as the apps that are available for it. And Windows Phone 8 lags far behind the competition. Although there are 100,000 or so apps in the Windows Phone Store, far fewer have been developed specifically for Windows Phone 8. There are popular apps such as Netflix, Flixster, Skype or "Angry Birds: Star Wars," but the store still lacks essential ones, such as HBO Go, Flipboard or Pandora. The one killer app that Windows Phone can boast, however, is a mobile version of Microsoft Office.
With three major mobile platforms, it's still really only a two-horse race between Apple's iOS and Android. But Microsoft has made a gorgeous and easy-to-use interface that's worth checking out. If the company stays behind it with more app development, it could become a viable alternative.
Google+: +Vincent Horiuchi