With New HTC One M8, Windows Phone Has Finally Arrived

With the new HTC One M8, HTC isn’t just releasing a new colored version of the same Android flagship that’s been available for some time. No, instead the company is revealing a new HTC One M8 running Microsoft’s Windows Phone with all of the same features and hardware specifications — exactly what Windows Phone needs.

HTC showed off the new HTC One M8 for Windows Phone at a small press event this morning. Launching online today at noon Eastern Standard Time, the HTC One M8 will be exclusive to Verizon where it’ll cost $99 with a two-year service agreement. Users will be able to pick up the phone in Verizon’s retail locations tomorrow.

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Make no mistake, this new HTC One is exactly the same HTC One M8 smartphone that HTC released earlier this year. For users who already have the HTC One M8 there’s not a lot of new things to be excited for here, but Windows Phone users have never been treated to this many extras stuffed into an HTC Windows Phone before.

The BoomSound speakers that made the HTC One M7 such a hit are back here, and placed prominently on the front of the screen. Other hardware favorites like the rear-facing Duo Camera that lets users take pretty stunning photos with an enlarged rear-facing camera sensor are here too.

The 2.26 Ghz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, 2GB of RAM and high-definition 5-inch display of the HTC One M8 with Android are included in the HTC One M8 for Windows. So are the front-facing 2 megapixel camera and many of HTC’s stock apps like BlinkFeed.

Read: HTC One Review: The Best Android Phone Available Has One Fatal Flaw

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All of that isn’t to say that there aren’t some unique things about the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone. Microsoft quietly tucked a few new software enhancements into the Windows Phone 8.1 Update that it announced a few weeks ago. One of those is a new accessories system that finally gives HTC the ability to create hardware accessories that work in neat ways.

The HTC One M8 for Windows Phone uses the new feature to integrate Windows Phone 8.1’s Cortana personal assistant directly into the Dot View case. With the HTC One M8 running Windows Phone, users will be able to swipe downward on the case to trigger Cortana and ask her questions or give a command. This is the first time we’ve seen integration between a Windows Phone and an accessory of this caliber. Accessories for Windows Phones exist, but aren’t nearly as robust as what HTC showed off on stage.

For most, the kicker here will be how users can actually get their hands on what really is the only high-end Windows Phone flagship to launch in the last six months or so. As was rumored, the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone 8.1 will be exclusive to Verizon users. That is to say, only users willing to sign a two-year contract with Verizon will be allowed to purchase the device at $99. That effectively makes the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone a non-story for a huge swath of potential buyers on Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. The lack of new high-end smartphones in the United States is said to have heavily contributed to Windows Phone’s faltering market share in the United States.

HTC talked at length about how the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone is the first high-end smartphone to ever run two different operating systems. In the last year, Microsoft made tons of key changes to Windows Phone that allowed this. For example, Windows Phones no longer require hardware buttons at the bottom, opting for on-screen buttons instead.

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