As expected, Microsoft has just taken the wraps off of Windows Phone 8 — the latest iteration of its mobile operating system — during a nightclub-themed media event in California.

Similar to Apple’s WWDC keynote, Microsoft took this opportunity to go over a handful of new features in the software. And so far, it looks fairly solid. Should Apple be nervous?

Headlining the list of new Windows Phone 8 features is a new Passbook-style Wallet application. It organizes credit cards, gift cards, and event tickets, and interfaces with an NFC chip.

Some of the platform’s other new features include Nokia Maps (this used to be restricted to Nokia customers), resizable Home screen tiles, and easier third-party app development.

Judging by some of the initial reactions, folks seem to be overall impressed with what Microsoft showed off today. The Wallet looks cool, the new Home screen looks fun, and the platform certainly seems to be rounding out.

But will this be enough to change the minds of iOS and Android users? Will it be enough to help Microsoft, and more importantly Nokia, win back some of their lost smartphone marketshare?

It’s hard to tell. While Apple didn’t announce any major new features for iOS last week, its enormous App Store and community of loyal followers still makes it the platform to beat.

Of course, as finicky as the smartphone business is (see RIM, Palm, HTC), that could all change in an instant.

What are your first impressions of Windows Phone 8?

[The Verge]