HTC One M8 With Windows Phone: The First Windows Phone Worth Buying?

The HTC One M8 made a splash as an Android phone, so much so that Microsoft approached HTC about putting out a version of the device with Windows Phone 8 on it. Does One M8’s magic survive the operating system swap, or does the Windows version fall short of the original?

It would be too generous to say that Windows has underachieved as a smartphone operating system. Microsoft’s mobile OS is stuck in a distant third place behind Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Microsoft is still trying to make a dent in the mobile segment, though, and the hope is that the HTC One M8 can be the Great Aluminum Hope for Windows Phone.

So, how well does it pay off? It appears that the operating system swap hasn’t dimmed the One M8’s star in the least. HTC reportedly followed Microsoft’s lead with the Windows Phone swap for the M8, and reviews of the device have the total product working quite well.

Over at Mashable, the Windows Phone-powered One M8 is hailed as succeeding “for the most part, in replicating the great experience of the Android version. The camera – probably the feature that matters the most – is just as good.”

HTC One M8 with Windows
HTC's One M8 with Android and HTC's One M8 with Windows. Image via Engadget.

Microsoft worked closely with HTC in order to ensure that the Windows Phone version of the M8 would have as capable a camera as the Android version, and they appear to have succeeded, according to initial reviews. The rest of the hardware of the device is exactly identical to what you would find on an Android version of HTC’s new One.

So, should you pick up the Windows Phone version of the One M8? There’s little difference in hardware from the Android to the Windows version, so the question really comes down to your taste in software.

Windows Phone 8 is a gorgeous operating system. Microsoft really put a lot of thought into differentiating its platform from Apple’s wildly successful iOS and Google’s even more successful Android OS. The “tiles” interface of Windows Phone is fun to mess around with, and it gives you a good heads-up view of information that’s pertinent to you. On the One M8’s gorgeous 5-inch, 1920×1080 display, those tiles are going to look even better.

The One M8 will also have Cortana, Microsoft’s new digital assistant, built in. Cortana is a super useful feature, but she doesn’t have too much in the way of a leg up on either Google Now or Apple’s Siri.

Microsoft HTC One M8 Cortana
HTC's One M8 with Windows will feature Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant.

If you pick up the Windows Phone version of the One M8 and you have a computer running Windows 8, you’ll also see a greater deal of integration between your handset and your desktop or notebook. That’s a plus, but Microsoft hasn’t fully leveraged the Windows connection to come up with any killer apps just yet. With Windows 9 said to be on the way shortly, we might see tighter integration, but just how much tighter remains to be seen.

There’s one other crucial difference between the HTC One M8 for Android and its Windows counterpart. The One M8 for Android is available across a number of carriers in the United States. For The One M8 with Windows, you’re limited to Verizon. Of course, being “limited” to the nation’s largest wireless carrier isn’t the worst of things, but you’ll be out of luck if you’re stuck in the middle of a contract with one of the other carriers. The M8 may make its way to other providers in the future, but that may depend on how well it does on Verizon.

One issue that looms large for Windows Phone is the Windows Store. Microsoft’s app store is leagues behind both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, and it likely won’t catch up any time soon. From a sheer numbers perspective, the Windows Store has closed the gap a little, but the quality of apps you’ll find for the One M8 with Windows isn’t in the same league as what you’ll find on the Play Store.

If you do pick up the One M8 with Windows, you can expect to see most of the major apps available for Windows Phone. Facebook, Instagram, and Vine are all there, but you’re going to have to wait for others to pop up or go and find a comparable alternative.

There is, actually, one area where the One M8 for Windows beats out the One M8 for Android. Apparently, HTC has confirmed that the One M8 for Windows gets 10 percent longer talk time than its Android counterpart. If you actually use your phone for, you know, making phone calls, that could be a dealbreaker. Otherwise, it’s really just down to which operating system you like more.