The two critical Windows Phone stories out today are both difficult for Microsoft: The Verge has it that Windows Phone 8, the next generation of the company’s mobile platform, is having a difficult time meeting its schedule, and PCMag has a story out detailing a study which paints a hard image of the smartphone line’s Christmas sales potential.

The study is of particular interest, as it deals with the freshly announced, and quite beautiful, Nokia Lumia 920 handset. Executed by CouponCodes4u.com, 2,371 smartphone owners in the United States, aged between 18 and 35 were questioned. Via PCMag’s report, here are the results:

[M]ost of the respondents liked the look of the new Lumia 920, and were impressed by its specs. However, when asked whether they would consider switching their current cell phone contract to get the Lumia 920, 52 percent of respondents said no. Another 35 percent said they would consider switching.

The final 13% indicated that provided a positive pricing edge for the Lumia 920, it might interest them. In short, despite the fact that Nokia has built a phone that has been mostly well received, and appears to resonate with consumers to an extent, those same smartphone owners remain a mixture of resistant, mildly interested, and frugal.

The 13% of respondents who indicated that they might be interested in the Lumia 920 provided a low price is a tough set of potential purchasers for Nokia, as the Lumia 920 is a large phone with an expansive screen; just how far it can discount the unit is an open question. Of course, the company will likely release a lower-end handset in the future, but that device won’t have the same market appeal as the 920.

That leaves the 35%. That’s a small slice of the market to build a new franchise on.

To put this into perspective, I’m not alone in reading these numbers as difficult. WPCentral, a blog focused squarely on Microsoft’s mobile efforts, described the study in the following way: “Same old story – New survey shows consumers impressed with the Lumia 920, wary of switching.” Another way: ‘Good job Nokia and Microsoft, but folks still want Android and iOS devices.’

I suspect that it’s a somewhat frustrating moment in time for the Windows Phone team, especially as the Windows Phone 8 deadline looms.

We are still more than a month away from the release of Windows Phone 8, and the year is hardly over, but the ground doesn’t appear to have softened much for Microsoft’s yet nascent mobile project.