Terry Myerson, corporate vice-president of Microsoft's Windows phone division, introduces the Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system in San Francisco, California.

San Francisco - Microsoft unveiled the latest version of its Windows Phone software on Wednesday, just days after it wowed the tech world with its own tablet device to challenge the iPad.

The new phone software is from the same Windows 8 software that will run Windows PCs and the new Surface tablets, promising tight integration with the vast installed base of Windows devices.

“The future of Windows Phone is about a shared Windows core,” corporate vice-president of Windows Phone Joe Belfiore said at the launch event. “Windows Phone 8 will ship this fall with the very same kernel that is found in its upcoming desktop and tablet operating system, Windows 8.”

The operating system will be featured on phones made by Microsoft partners such as Huawei, Samsung, HTC and the struggling former mobile phone leader Nokia, which is betting its entire smartphone future on the Windows platform.

Microsoft urgently needs a hit in the smartphone market as it seeks to come from far behind to challenge Apple and Google in the mobile device sector.

The new operating system will improve on the main differentiating feature of Microsoft Windows Phone 7 software - a start page made of tiles that group related activities together. The so-called Metro interface is also a strong component of the other Windows 8 platforms.

Microsoft also said that the new operating system would include a digital wallet with near-field communications, and would ditch Microsoft's Bing mapping software in favour of an alternative mapping system developed by Nokia. - Sapa-dpa