HTC's Windows Phone 8 devices: An initial pleasant surprise

HTC's Windows Phone 8 devices: An initial pleasant surprise

Summary: The newly unveiled HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8S look and feel nice -- for the few minutes of very locked-down play any of us have had with them.


I admit I went into HTC's Windows Phone 8 launch on September 19 not expecting a whole lot. I say this as a HTC Trophy user who opted for this same-old, same-old phone because it was -- and still is a year-plus after I bought it -- the only Windows Phone on Verizon.

I came away pleasantly surprised and interested in getting a real hands-on with the HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8s, both of which are slated to be available in November on Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile here in the U.S.

No one has gotten an actual hands-on in the real sense with any of the Windows Phone 8 devices announced and shown to date, including the Samsung ATIV S, the Lumia 920 and 820 and/or the HTC 8X/8X. There have been some "reviews" and "hands on" videos around the Web. But no reporters or bloggers have gotten to do any real testing of any of these phones, as Microsoft is restricting the handset makers because they are hoping to have something unannounced to still announce on October 29, which is the official Windows Phone 8 "launch" 

At today's HTC-reveal event, phones were locked, so we couldn't even scroll on them. But we did get to hold them and listen to music on them. At the recent Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 8 announcement, I wasn't allowed to hold a phone. I only was permitted to feel the weight of the Lumia 920 when a Nokia employee placed a locked phone on my outstretched hand. Not kidding....



The new HTC Windows Phone 8 phones are thin (see image, courtesy of WinSuperSite's Paul Thurrott, above). That is a shot -- with me as "hand model" -- of the Lumia 900 and the new HTC 8X -- stacked side-by-side. Like the Nokia Lumias, they are colorful -- red, blue, white, gray, orange, yellow, black and a couple of four different two-toned models thrown in for good measure. Because Beats audio is integrated into the phones, they have great audio. The HTC 8X will have a front- and rear-facing camera both; the 8S, a rear-facing camera only. But the 8S will have support for a removable microSD, while the 8X will not. If you want the spec list for the two new HTC Windows Phones, my ZDNet colleague Matthew Miller has a good list.

So the look and feel of the HTC 8X and 8S was a pleasant surprise. But the positioning of these phones was even more surprising.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a guest appearance at the HTC launch today, just like he did at the recent Lumia Windows Phone 8 unveiling. But at the HTC event, Ballmer and the HTC execs both played up the "we" factor, citing Microsoft's influence on the development of the new phones. They also said the new HTC phones would be the "signature" Windows Phone 8 devices, and that HTC and Microsoft would work together on a massive integrated marketing and promotion campaign.

Here's a screen shot, supplied by @Brano_H from the HTC Elevate site that proclaims the HTC phones are the "first Signature Windows Phones" (implying more Signature phones may be coming... maybe?).


Maybe this was just talk to make HTC -- one of the four five remaining Windows Phone handset makers (along with Nokia, Samsung, Huawei and ZTE) -- feel like it's on par with Microsoft's premiere Windows Phone partner, Nokia. Or maybe it signifies HTC is getting more Microsoft love than any of the other three these days? I asked Microsoft to explain the significance of "signature," but haven't received any word back.

I don't care who Microsoft's favorite Windows Phone dance partner is these days. I will say I am relieved that as a Verizon user I will finally have more than one Windows Phone to choose this fall. 

Topics: Smartphones, HTC, Microsoft, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Read an old article that

    an unprotected Windows machine can be on the network for 4 minutes without getting a virus. So, I guess they let you play for 3 minutes, then sent it back to be reimaged...
    Tony Burzio
    • Your crazy is showing...

      My windows machines have been on the network and virus free for decades. Go pedal that ignorant propaganda someplace else.
      • Firewall?

        Is your firewall on? I think by "unprotected" the researchers meant... like... really, truly, stupidly unprotected: no firewall, a public IP address, and basically a flashing "Vacancy" sign out front. The sort of thing you'd be stupid to do with any machine.
        • What researchers?

          I would like to read about this "research" but yet it is nowhere to be found. Sounds more like an iDream to me...or some comment Steve Jobs (the ultimate used car saleman) made in a late night email to some iSheeple to shut them up when they had questions about mac security.
      • Good for you unless...

        Dude are you serious?
        You have been on network for decades and yet you think all the viruses are detectable?
        There are something called stealth malwares rootkits backdoors etc. You won't even know if its there on your computer or network. Not even with the help of the best anti virus applications.

        And now the above guy told about an unprotected system. And I believe its true in the case of unprotected system, they are soo easy. And as a matter of fact there is a vulnerability on Internet Explorer 7,8 & 9 by which an attacker can compromise your system as of NOW for which there is no fix released yet! And guess what, this is not the first time it happened! And still if you think windows is all you need, you better think again mate!
        • Really, this is a WP article......

          And you guys want to talk about zero day vulns that exist in all computer OS's? Sorry Microsoft is the target today and has to deal with ignorant people like this. If this zero day you are talking about happened on the Mac platform, Apple would deny it until the heat was turned up on them. Its limited in its target and Microsoft will have a patch out in the next day or so. Thats the kind of response we want from an OS vendor, not denial and silence. How about you do yourself a favor and go check out the patches that will be released for Apple and Linux, yep they patch because there is holes to exploit. Some people are just too ignorant to understand that.
          • That's a blatant and false assumption

            Apple has been pretty arrogant about a couple things but they're not blatant liars like you suggest. Apple acknowledge the flashback malware and addressed it. Apple may not publicly disclose everything. Even the lead researcher that is well known for finding Apple security flaws and was banned for a year for sneaking malware test software past them admits Apple is pretty secure and they just don't disclose a lot of their fixes. They quietly fix and address security issues, not "deny them until the heat is on".
            Don't be ignorant though of the many many many exploits and vulnerabilities of Windows in general, lest you actually believe they hype it's all the same and try to run a Windows computer on the Internet with no AV, and mistake stealthier for safety. It's funny, some Windows viruses actually patch Windows vulnerabilities to protect the system from other malware. When viruses have to install their own anti-virus, it's pretty bad...
          • Really.....

            So Apple didn't stay quiet for a while with the Flashback? It sure would have been nice if they had and let there users know how to mitigate it and not let them infect uninfected machines until the patch came out. Anyway yes OSX and every other OS has exploits, thats a fact and as it stands today hackers are targeting Windows machines still more than ever because they comprise of the most internet traffic. Anyway I think you confuse a virus with everything like malware, trojans, etc. A worm is something that is a true virus that can self replicate. These are done through remote code execution holes that allow machines to be compromised remotely. Do me a favor and go through the last OSX patches and see if you find any of those patched for a remote code execution hole. You will and if that had been zero day'd by a hacker, guess what they could exploit OSX and create a worm. You don't have to believe me, you can check out this article from IBM, but maybe you think you are smarter than they are?
          • So for flash back.

            Java didn't prompt the little upgrade window like that do on the win32 platform.. If that window didn't pop up how far back do you think windows users would be in updates ? ?
            Anthony E
          • Well OSX users are in the same boat now.....

            Apple has removed Flash and Java from their OS and updates so they are now standalone apps like they are on Windows. And Apple left users vulnerable when updates came out and Apple didn't update OSX so atleast Windows users had the chance to update right away, sure some may ignore the warning, but thats their problem not Windows.
          • Typical iSheep BAAAA!

            Apple only acknowledged flashback because it became an issue too big to sweep under the rug. Had it not you would still be thinking that macs are invulnerable and walking around telling everyone how great your mac is because it can't be hacked.
        • But it it also true for Linux, Unix and OSX dud

          But it it also true for Linux, Unix and OSX dud
          • Nope.

            Don't run services, not a problem.

            Unfortunately Windows won't work UNLESS you run services...
        • Dude...

          Pays to be informed!

          Windows 8 Comes with IE 10. So, what's your point? The article is talking about WP 8.
      • I think your pants may be on fire.

        the words "windows" and "ignorant propaganda" were joined at birth.
      • On the network and exposed to the internet are two different things

        If you have a firewall, which basically you must have a basic one by definition if you have a network, then you are not exposed unless you browse the web, but one infected machine can spread. If you have browsed the Internet a lot, on an unprotected Windows system, you likely have malware embedded in your system. Only the stupid viruses are so obvious, trying to direct you to web pages to buy their "protection".
        For example, the FBI had malware proxying people's internet activity through servers they seized and adjusted to keep users happily browsing along while they let people know. For years hundreds of thousands of PC users had no clue all their internet activity was being monitored by malware and/or fbi systems. I'm not picking on PCs. Microsoft helped lead the takedown and it was said it involved Windows and Mac computers, but I did not see a distribution... OSX and Linux have holes too that are constantly patched, but windows has been a special kind of vulnerable for years. Usually it's the cockiness and arrogance of Mac and Linux users that leads them to trouble, but they generally do stay cleaner with no AV than Windows given the same activities. Not all Windows infections (or Mac) are obvious.
      • Agree - but

        Yeah mostly it takes a lot longer than 4 minutes for anything to get a virus.

        It was a completely over the top comment.

        but drunkenscholar I have not had the same decades of windows being virus free, and neither have the people I know, so you are lucky.
      • Unprotected.

        I ran an old computer for almost a year on the internet with no anti-virus or anti-malware without getting an infection. Windows can be as secure as you want it to be without extra programs and be on the internet. I NEVER used anti-virus on that old computer, just retired it.
      • Don't feed the trolls

        Drunkenscholar, you should not even waste your keyboard on trolls like this!
      • drunkerscholar isn't so drunk

        maybe he should change HIS name to Tony Boozio. I think he is drunk AHHAAHAA