Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Windows Phone 8 Launch Today

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been busy announcing its Windows re-invention over the last few weeks and days, and these past few days have especially been of high import for the company, as they have marked the launch of the company’s new operating system, Windows 8. This is designed to be an operating system that would work on both tablets and laptop/desktop computers, providing some synergy and synchronicity for developers.

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Later today, though, comes the other piece to the puzzle – the operating system for smartphones. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), which dominated headlines the end of last week with its Windows 8 launch, now will dominate headlines Monday – well, those headlines not associated with Hurricane Sandy – by having an event later this morning (1 p.m. Eastern in Sandy’s territory, 10 a.m. out West) to unveil the new smartphone OS, Windows Phone 8, which is also supposed to be designed to sync with Windows 8 devices across all platforms with only minor tweaks. Whereas Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has iOS 6 for its mobile devices and OS X for its laptops and desktops, the goal of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is to have essentially one OS platform that can work across any device – creating its own ecosystem, in effect.

The first smartphones with Windows Phone 8 – created by Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., and HTC – are expected to hit retail store shelves in the next week or so for the peak holiday shopping season, though carriers, prices and availability have not been entirely released yet. Some pieces of that information have trickled out at different times; whether there will be one unified message at this event remains to be seen. And Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) must be banking on loyalty from its Windows Phone 7 users and/or dissatisfaction with current iOS by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) or Android by Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) users to gain market share, because those with Windows Phone 7 handsets will not be able to upgrade to Windows 8 from their existing handset – they will have to get in line to buy a new handset.

However, at the Windows 8 launch event last week, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer could hardly contain his excitement for the new smartphone OS when he remarked, “I can’t wait to show you how we’ve really reinvented the smartphone around you.” These two events in recent days are on thing, but investors in Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) stock – like billionaire fund manager Seth Klarman of Baupost Group – will definitely be watching the sales figures during the holiday season to see if Windows can remain a force in general, but specifically if Windows can be a viable third option for smartphone consumers. That might be the key story.