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Microsoft’s Windows 8 “Consumer Preview” is nearing release, says The Verge. The company is putting the finishing touches on the preinstalled application list. Microsoft will bundle in a number of Metro style applications including; Camera, Messaging, Mail, Calendar, SkyDrive, People, Photos, Video and Music.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview launch is slated for February 29, at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The new Metro interface is modeled after Windows Phone 7, and targeted at tablets.

Windows Phone 8 will be based not on Windows CE, as is Windows Phone 7, but instead on the Windows 8 kernel, according to Paul Thurrot. Windows 8 and Windows Phone will both run Metro apps.

This grand unification strategy could give Microsoft an edge over Google and Apple, opines Information Week. Most significantly, if apps developed for Windows 8 can run across PCs, tablets, and phones with minimal porting issues, then the platform should be a huge magnet for developers. Microsoft expects 100,000 apps to be in the Marketplace at the launch of Windows Phone 8.

In the fourth quarter, Windows Mobile lost a point of market share, accounting for only 4.7 percent of sales in the United States, according to ComScore.

Canalys says that Windows Phone dropped by 46 percent while Android Phones and iOS increased by 244 percent and 96 percent, respectively.

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