Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

HTC Enters the Windows 8 Race With 8X and 8S Smartphones

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appeared onstage in New York for the second time this month to tout two new Windows 8 smartphones, this time from Taiwanese handset maker HTC.

The devices — the Windows Phone 8X and the Windows Phone 8S — have Super LCD 2 displays coated with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.

Mirroring Nokia Lumia’s new 820 and 920 Windows 8 models, the phones look similar but vary slightly in specs. The HTC 8X is bigger, with a 4.3-inch screen; the 8S has a four-inch screen.

Both phones include Beats audio, for better sound quality, and both have an ultra-wide camera lens, with an eight-megapixel sensor in the rear camera and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. The cameras also support full 1080p HD video capture.

“Today’s a significant milestone for HTC and Microsoft,” Ballmer said, calling the two new phones Microsoft’s and HTC’s “biggest endeavor yet.”

HTC’s CEO Peter Chou spoke at the event, as well. “Windows Phone is an important part of HTC’s heritage. We have more experience making Windows phones than anyone else, and we’ve sold more Windows phones than anyone else.”

The phones are expected to launch in November, though pricing is still unknown. HTC said the phones will be available across 150 mobile operators in 50 countries. In the U.S., they’ll be available through T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon. Both the 8X and 8S are available in a variety of colors, including blue, black, flame red and bright yellow.

The stakes are especially high for HTC, as the company faces slumping sales in the ultra-competitive smartphone market.

This past April, HTC launched its $200 One S and One X models, Android-based smartphones that have received mostly favorable reviews. As AllThingsD’s Ina Fried reported earlier this month, HTC has said that it plans to put more weight behind fewer products — particularly its One family — and that the company needs to be less quietly brilliant, as the slogan goes, and “more bold.”

While Microsoft hasn’t been detailing exactly what will be included in the upcoming Windows 8 Phone operating system, which is expected in late October, there have been a few hardware announcements that have given us a good glimpse of what we might look for. The operating system has a tile-like design that moves away from the app icon-laden interfaces that have become standard for smartphones.

In late August, Samsung showed off its upcoming Windows 8 phone, the ATIV S, just days ahead of Nokia’s big New York City event showcasing its upcoming Lumia 820 and 920 smartphones.

If it seems like I’m using the word “show” a lot, it’s on purpose — because right now a lot of this is for show, at least until we have more details on pricing and exact launch dates for some of these phones.

And, of course, it doesn’t really matter who announces what first, or which phones make it to market when. It matters who does it better. Whether HTC does it better remains to be seen.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google