HTC's Android flagship phone gets a Windows Phone option

HTC launched a Windows Phone version of its HTC One on Verizon -- its first Windows Phone flagship in two years.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

HTC launched on August 19 a Windows Phone version of its flagship HTC One M8 smartphone.


Called the HTC One M8 for Windows, the newest member of the HTC One family is nearly 100 percent identical, hardware-wise, to the Android HTC One M8. Literally, the only difference, according to Microsoft officials, is the etching on the back of the phone, designating that it's a Windows Phone. Otherwise, the hardware is the same as the Android-based HTC One.

The HTC One M8 for Windows is running Windows Phone 8.1 with the developer preview of Update 1. That means it includes Cortana, Microsoft's personal digital assistant, a notification center and the Update 1 features like nested folders and consumer VPN support.

HTC engineers, some of whom temporarily co-located at Microsoft's Redmond offices, worked hand-in-hand with the Windows Phone engineers to ensure that Microsoft's phone OS would work on the HTC One hardware, Microsoft execs said.

The HTC One M8 for Windows — HTC's first Windows Phone flagship since it launched the HTC 8X two years ago — is exclusively on Verizon in the US. (at least for now). It is available for purchase as of noon ET today, August 19, and in Verizon stores starting August 20. HTC officials declined to say when and if the HTC One M8 for Windows will be available on other carriers or in other countries.

The promotional price of the new phone is $99 with a two-year contract. It also is available for $29.99 per month on Verizon Edge. (No pricing for unlocked phones was provided at the launch event in New York City today.) Microsoft Stores also will sell the device with Verizon Wireless service and a special offer for a free HTC Dot View Case and screen protector for $25. 

In February 2014, Microsoft officials said they would be changing the Windows Phone hardware requirements to enable more phone OEMs to use the same hardware to run Windows Phone OS as they were using with Android. The HTC One M8 for Windows is the first phone available in the US to take advantage of those changes, which include support for onscreen buttons.

Contrary to some rumors, Microsoft and its phone partners aren't going to allow users to choose between the Windows Phone OS or Android on their phones. Instead, Microsoft will make changes to the Windows Phone OS platform so that OEMs can put either OS on the same hardware, officials said during today's launch event.

The HTC One (M8) for Windows is brushed metal. It has a five-inch 1080p HD display and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad-core 2.3 GHz processor. It comes with 32 GB of storage, expandable up to 128 GB with a MicroSD card (and 15 GB of OneDrive for free).

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