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HTC One M8 reimagined as a Windows Phone battleship

Date

Pete Pachal

The HTC One M8 for Windows brings Windows Phone 8.1 to the company's popular flagship smartphone.

The HTC One M8 for Windows brings Windows Phone 8.1 to the company's popular flagship smartphone. Photo: Niki Walker/Mashable

This post was originally published on Mashable.

The HTC One M8 is one of the most well-received Android phones of the year, so when Microsoft approached the company about making a new Windows Phone, it requested the M8 specifically.

"The M8, as our flagship, has been doing fantastic," says Jeff Gordon, HTC's online communications manager. "Microsoft came to us a while back and, loving what we did with the HTC One M8 for Android so much, they wanted to do something similar, but running Windows Phone software."

The only change to the look of the phone: A Windows Logo on the back.

The only change to the look of the phone: A Windows Logo on the back. Photo: Niki Walker/Mashable

The HTC One M8 for Windows has the exact same hardware as the Android M8 — with the familiar 5-inch full HD screen, Snapdragon 801 chip and robust "BoomSound" speakers — with just the Windows Phone logo beneath the "HTC" on the back betraying the operating system onboard.

The phone runs the latest Windows Phone software (version 8.1.1), which includes Microsoft's virtual assistant, Cortana. HTC also worked closely with Microsoft to ensure the One's signature features, such as the built-in TV remote control, carry over to the Windows Phone version with few changes:

  • BlinkFeed — the Android home screen that's loaded with "snackable" information from social feeds and news sites — is accessed via an app on the Windows version, rather than by swiping to the left. The color-coding that HTC introduced with the M8 (green for articles, orange for media, etc.) also gives way to the color theme the Windows Phone user has selected.

  • The Duo camera is one of the best features of the HTC One M8, and many of its tricks are preserved in the M8 for Windows. You can refocus photos after the fact, add stylised textures to the background and even create the same crude 3D effect you can on the Android version. One thing missing from the camera experience, though, is the Zoe camera that helps in the automatic creation of highlight videos (also absent).

BlinkFeed — the Android home screen that's loaded with "snackable" information from social feeds and news sites — is accessed via an app on the Windows version, rather than by swiping to the left. The color-coding that HTC introduced with the M8 (green for articles, orange for media, etc.) also gives way to the color theme the Windows Phone user has selected.

The Duo camera is one of the best features of the HTC One M8, and many of its tricks are preserved in the M8 for Windows. You can refocus photos after the fact, add stylised textures to the background and even create the same crude 3D effect you can on the Android version. One thing missing from the camera experience, though, is the Zoe camera that helps in the automatic creation of highlight videos (also absent).

And, yes, the phone's infrared port (which is built into the power button) also doubles as a remote control, something Windows Phone doesn't inherently support.

Microsoft had to give HTC some special sauce so it could get the IR port working on the Windows model. In both cases, the port works with an HTC-made remote app that presents content visually, with graphical title cards.

I had a little hands-on time with the HTC One M8 for Windows, and it succeeds, for the most part, in replicating the great experience of the Android version. The camera experience — probably the feature that matters most — is just as good, although the lack of Zoe and the automatic highlight videos is a strike against it. However, it makes up for the absence with the ability to integrate other camera apps through Windows Phone's "lenses."

"We're really kind of following Microsoft's lead on Windows Phone as opposed to HTC Sense, where we control the entire experience," says Gordon.

The phone marks the first Windows Phone that HTC has created in two years. Back in 2012, HTC debuted the HTC Windows Phone 8X and 8S — phones the company designed from the ground up to work with Windows Phone 8 (a variant of the 8X, the 8XT, appeared about a year ago).

In the US the M8 for Windows is available now for $US99 with a two-year contract. No details have emerged as yet on Australian availability.

Will the success of the HTC One M8 rub off on Windows Phone, a platform in desperate need of a boost? Microsoft certainly hopes so, since its own Nokia brand can only do so much on heavy lifting its own. But for the strategy to really work, the Samsungs and Huaweis of the world will have to get on board, too. At next month's IFA trade show in Berlin, we should get a clue about whether or not that's happening.

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

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