Oh, Microsoft, you old battle horse, are you behind those candy-colored, tapered and jolly Windows Phone 8 designs that HTC and Nokia just blurted out? You were coasting for a while on the power of your Windows and Office franchises, but the looming mobile threat must have shaken you to the core to come up with things like Windows (Phone) 8 and the Surface hardware.
It's very typical for the established software giant to get taken by surprise by some new trend coming out of nowhere, and watch the field for a few seasons until they see where the market is going, then swoop in and use all the engineering and partnership prowess at their disposal to make a nice living for itself in the new market, too.
This seems to be what's happening with Microsoft's newest desktop and mobile operating system editions, and the designs of the new Windows Phone 8 handsets might be the best indicator that Steve Ballmer is leaving nothing to chance this time. After securing a company like Nokia as its de facto manufacturing arm, nudged by its former exec Elop, Microsoft is apparently now working closely with each and every Windows Phone maker to make sure the phones with its mobile OS stand out in the sea of competition, avoiding the fate of the hundreds of faceless black plastic rectangles Android is so demonized for. That's the advantage of coming late to the party, after observing for a long time what works and what doesn't.
We have been wondering how come each new Windows Phone 8 handset this season is so distinct and different from each other, yet Nokia's and HTC's handsets have some overarching similarities that are impossible to go unnoticed. They all come with the same Snapdragon silicon, and HD or WQVGA screens, which is fine, since these are the base requirements of Windows Phone 8, but the tapered chassis and the colorful designs run like a thread throughout the WP8 crop announced this month, hinting of a coordinated design effort on a grander scale, too.
Indeed, while detailing the design process behind the Windows Phone 8X and 8S in an official blog post, HTC says "Over the past year, HTC and Microsoft engineers and designers have worked closely together to deliver a phone that looks and feels like no other – creating a new ‘signature line’ of Windows 8 phones made only by HTC."
Bingo! Apart from the very close relationship with Nokia, where apparently Microsoft is calling the shots for many things, including which designs will make the cut and what will get included with its phones, HTC just divulged that it has been tightly supervised by Microsoft as well, and for a year now. We don't know about Samsung with its metallic ATIV S, but we wouldn't be surprised if its design and top-notch features also had to receive the nod from Redmond.
Moreover, it seems that each company is forced to throw the best it can offer into its Windows Phones now. We are certain that the PureView Phase 2 camera with Optical Image Stabilization was being developed in Nokia's labs for years, and dragged out in the sunlight for WP. We've also heard about Nokia's research on capacitive touchscreens that can be used with gloves and nails in the frosty Finnish winter, as well as its wireless charging effort. These, along with a new ClearBlack screen coating that helps sunlight visibility, were all thrown simultaneously into one flagship handset, the Lumia 920, addressing the weakest hardware points of every smartphone, but also making those features an exclusive Windows Phone endeavor now.
Ditto the "everything plus the kitchen sink" strategy for HTC - besides its signature Android differentiators, like the ImageChip proprietary ISP for some of the fastest cameras around, and the exclusive Beats Audio branding, HTC's 8X flagship added a little something not found anywhere, too. It features a dedicated 2.55v audio amplifier inside the handset, which showed impressive for a handset output strength and clarity through the speaker, and probably will through the audio jack as well. The HTC 8X also offered for the first time a 2MP front-facing camera that has 88-degree lens to fit up to four people in your video chats, and does 1080p video recording - important things, you know, for those Skype video chats, a company that happened to be bought by Microsoft and its service integrated into WP8.
We don't know yet what Samsung's design story is with the ATIV S, which was introduced on the hush-hush recently and has been MIA since. It is the apparent outlier in the theory for colorful designs, as it has a more understated elegance, but the other part of the theory still stands, as Samsung crammed the best it can offer now in it - the Galaxy S III specs with the unique 4.8" HD Super AMOLED display. We wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft was briefed on the plans about the ATIV S, too, and approved a more buttoned down, yet still high-end handset as an alternative to the candy-colored HTC and Lumia WP8 handsets.
Redmond apparently only rubberstamps flagships now that add a little (or a lot in the Lumia 920 case) extra something exclusive, too, to make people consider switching to its mobile OS, which still has a lot of catching up to do in the apps number category. What do you think, is Microsoft now peeping over the shoulder of Windows Phone 8 handset makers to make sure every product is coherent with an overarching vision to only make phones that stand out? Are you game with this approach considering the results so far?
And I thought it was Michael article but nice one Daniel...
Yup, ms just wanna revived the colourfulness of the phone from the black and white trend made by Apple... Ms just wanna differentiate themselves tho....
28.pookiewood(Posts: 628; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)
I'm coming from Sprint for over 10 years to switch to AT&T so I don't know the SIM card game. I suppose I could get the 8x in November and then the 920 next year and swap back and forth depending on how i want to accessorize! :D Hmmm. SIM cards for the win!
13.KingShango(Posts: 89; Member since: 16 May 2012)
Who can blame them? The hardware for the WP7 launch was lackluster at best. Remember the weird HTC phone with the slide out speaker?
In addition I would think that the OEMs would want to differentiate themselves as much as possible and if they have a certain in-house tech (Pureview, Beats Audio) why wouldn't they put it in their flagship offerings.
At least there are choices and options, audiophiles might like the 8X while shutterbugs might like the 920. Anything is better than the one-size-fits-all option from a certain other frutiy manufacturer.
What i find interesting about the new phones is the lack of need for a case. I cannot say when the last time I have seen an iPhone without one. Amazingly people say how beautiful they are and then put some gaudy case or bumper over it leaving only the front screen and the Apple logo visible.
I think Microsoft is really serious about staying in the smart phone business. The windows smart phones may never outsell the Android or Iphone but there will always be enough of them sold to cause an OEM like Samsung , HTC. and Nokia to make a model or two each year. if you have noticed this is true except for Nokia most OEM's are now making new model after new model of Android smart phones but only make 2 Windows smart phones for the whole year. Microsoft will continue to make their smart phones software better and better and as years continue. the net result will be that Microsoft smart phones will not take a back seat to the Iphones or Android smart phones. right now the Microsoft smart phone OS can run Dual core or quad core CPU's and HD screens and and have all the High tech electronics and camera's the Other smart phones used to boast they have that the Windows 7 series smart phones do note have. in the End People will see that Microsoft smart phones are sound and work well causing more People to buy them and microsoft smart phones will stay around to the surprise of Android and Iphone fans
I forgot to mention above that the New Windows Phone 8 smart phones can now run dual , Quad core Cpu's and use HD screens and all the smart Phone electronics and cameras the windows 7 series smart phone OS could not use. the new windows smart p0hens use the well renown NT operating system core which is better OS thanwindows 7 series smart phones used. Microsoft will push their OEM's to make better smart phone because now they are using an OS that handle anything they want a smart phone to do.