How Long Will It Take Microsoft To Catch Up With Android & iOS?

Microsoft, as we all know, joined the smartphone market extremely late. But is there still time for them to gain a firm grip on the market?

Back when Windows Phone 7 and 8 were just a gleam in the eyes of Microsoft's mobile developer team, there was Windows Mobile 6 and its various updates. The platform was successful, though not nearly as much as BlackBerry, and certainly nowhere near the popularity of iOS when it debuted in 2007.

Partnering with Nokia (another giant in the mobile industry that also waited too long to innovate), was perhaps one of Microsoft's best decision to date. Nokia knows how to deliver quality devices at affordable prices, and Microsoft can create software that appeals to everyone.

Metro UI has been a better answer to Android and iOS than anyone could have imagined. It's squarely in third place behind Android and iOS, and head & shoulders above BB10, Linux, and whatever other startups there are.

The system is gorgeous, and works better than Android, if not on par with iOS (dare I say it). With Microsoft's recent purchase of Nokia, they can finally turn themselves into the Apple of the mobile world that they've always wanted to be (recently, at least).

The problem is still the platform's abysmal lack of apps. Some would argue that all the main ones are covered, but if they are, they're either not free (i.e. Angry Birds, which is free on Android and iOS), or they work pretty horribly.

You won't find Instagram, or graphic-intense games like Dead Space, Asphalt, Batman: Arkham City, etc on the store. There are a hundred million flashlight apps, but barely anything you'd really want to download. So my question is simple: Can Microsoft convince these major developers to either create cross-platform apps or speed up the development for apps they're already making, and if so, how long will it take for them to catch up to Android and iOS?

Apple had a headstart over Google by a year, and now Android has largely overtaken iOS when it comes to user-count (not quality just yet). Will Microsoft get their head in the game and join the big players?