Will Windows Phone 8 fare any better than WP 7?

Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8 today, and the early reviews are pretty positive. Sascha Segan praised the platform’s user interface and integration with Microsoft’s desktop software, Fierce Developer outlined its benefits for mobile app developers and Gizmodo noted that Windows Phone handsets are finally getting good.

I’ve been carrying a Nokia Lumia 710 for a couple months now, and I’ve been pretty impressed with Windows Phone. But Microsoft still faces some major challenges as it tries once again to take on Apple and Google with a refreshed platform. Windows Phone still doesn’t support some very popular apps, and it doesn’t run on any iconic handset (yet).

But the biggest problem with Windows Phone remains a staggering lack of consumer awareness. When I tell non-techies that I carry a Windows Phone, I often have to explain exactly what the platform is. I find that astounding considering the platform is two years old and boasts an impressive list of hardware and carrier partners. Microsoft and its mobile allies have done a miserable job of marketing an operating system that has the technical muscle to take on the biggest platforms in the business. If that doesn’t change soon, Windows Phone 8 will plod along just as its predecessor has.