Nokia has already sold 4.4 million Windows phones

Nokia has already sold 4.4 million Windows phones

A few days after Microsoft CEO gate-crashed the opening keynote speech of the International Consumer Electronics Show to proclaim that Windows Phone 8 is performing well, an unscheduled financial update by Nokia, Microsoft's biggest smartphone partner and maker of the smartphone operating system's flagship handset confirms that phones are flying off the shelf.

In all, Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia phones over the final quarter of 2012 and so great was the demand that the Finnish phone-maker has been struggling to keep up.

Whether or not Nokia, or the other Windows Phone manufacturers, HTC and Samsung, can maintain this momentum remains to be seen, but in the short term at least the success proves that for the time being at least, there is space in the smartphone market for a third operating system.

No doubt RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry range of smartphones, will be watching Microsoft's progress closely. It is set to launch its own new handset and operating system on January 30 in an attempt to reverse its fortunes and win back the customers it has lost in recent years to Android and Apple's iOS handsets.

Whatever happens, this increased choice will be good news for consumers, with more competition spurring innovation and ultimately lower prices and better value. As many of the latest high-tech handsets demonstrated at CES are scheduled for release in the first half of 2013, this summer could prove to be a good time to upgrade a handset, change contract or move to another operating system.