Microsoft’s dream of Windows conquering the smartphone market has all but fizzled.
Not a single Microsoft-made flagship Windows phone was released in 2016, and there’s a strong possibility 2017 will go the same way. All in all, Microsoft’s Windows phone operating systems have less than 1% of the global market share.
So it’s noteworthy that Microsoft has partnered with Samsung, ZDNet reports, for customized versions of Samsung’s just-unveiled Galaxy S8 – exactly the same price, hardware, and Android operating system as the S8 ($750) and the larger S8 Plus ($850), but with a few Microsoft-powered tricks up its sleeve.
A representative tells Business Insider that starting April 21, you’ll be able to buy this special Galaxy S8 from Microsoft’s retail stores in the US. When you turn it on and connect it to Wi-Fi, the phone downloads and installs a whole mess of Microsoft’s existing Android apps, including Office, LinkedIn, OneDrive, the Cortana virtual assistant, and the Wunderlist to-do app.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is already looking like the best Android phone out there. With this special edition, it’ll probably be the best Microsoft phone out there, too – unless Microsoft releases the long-rumored Surface Phone.
- Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider
Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S8 lets you dock it to a monitor and use it like a full-on PC – a signature feature of certain Windows 10 Mobile smartphones in a mode Microsoft calls Continuum. And as The Verge’s Tom Warren points out, the Galaxy S8’s PC mode beats Microsoft’s Continuum in several key ways, including in its ability to split-screen two apps.
This isn’t as crazy as it seems. As the PC industry shrinks, Microsoft is shifting its business to focus on cross-platform subscription services like Office 365. Using an Android phone as a funnel for Office 365 feels weird after decades of Microsoft’s laser focus on Windows, but it suits this new goal nicely.
Plus, Samsung and Microsoft are apparently best friends now after settling a lawsuit over patents in 2015. Still, it’s a little weird that you’ll be able to get the phones only from Microsoft’s stores, potentially limiting their availability to the most devoted Microsoft fans.