Microsoft Lumia 950, 950XL may be AT&T exclusive in U.S.

Want one of the new liquid-cooled Windows phones that Microsoft just announced? You might be out of luck unless you're an AT&T subscriber.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

The latest and greatest Windows phones Microsoft announced on Tuesday may be a challenge to get in the U.S., unless you're an AT&T subscriber, that is.

While there haven't been any official carrier announcements on the Lumia 950 and 950XL, a Microsoft spokesperson tells CNET that the phones will be available only through AT&T when the launch in the U.S. next month.

AT&T has had a history of exclusivity when it comes to handsets; the most notable being the Apple iPhone for several years here. It also was the only carrier to support some clunkers, such as the Amazon Fire Phone, the HTC First -- a handset specifically built around Facebook -- and several other Lumia handsets.

So in that sense, it's not surprising to see the new Lumia's arrive here on a single carrier.

It's not, however, good for consumers, nor for handset makers -- in this case, Microsoft -- though.

For subscribers on other carriers, there's no chance to get a new Lumia and test out the Windows Continuum feature that turns the phone into a PC when attached to a monitor, keyboard and mouse. And although Microsoft will likely get some advertising and marketing help from AT&T, it precludes the company from selling its handsets to tens of millions of potential customers who want to stick with Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon.

It's possible, likely even, that Microsoft will eventually sell direct an unlocked version of the new Lumias that will at least work with T-Mobile's network as well. But at time of launch, if you're not with AT&T and want to try the best Windows phones yet, you might be out of luck.

Update: After publication CNET said the that Lumia 950 will not be exclusive to AT&T in the U.S., however no other carriers have yet announced plans to carry the new devices.

Editorial standards