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Microsoft and HTC cozy up in push for Win Phone 8, look to address ongoing issues

Earlier in the week Bloomberg stated that HTC had scrapped plans for a 5” or higher Windows Phone due to the inability of the OS to scale up to 1080P. Sure, the device could pass muster with 720P or 768P but for a major device like that to hit now or in early 2013 would behind the competition.

Now it’s being reported that Microsoft’s Ballmer met directly with the CEO of HTC, Peter Chou, when he passed through Taiwan recently. In of itself this is not news as the two mega CEOs reportedly exchange emails and meet several times a year. But in this case, the limiting resolution of the Windows Phone 8 and presumably other areas of contention were brought up.

Windows Phone 8 of course can scale up to higher resolutions but it requires the Windows Phone team to actually set the parameters and put it in the toolbox for manufactures (called an SDK). Originally, Windows Phone 8 supported four resolutions, including ironically a very low-resolution 480x640 that was scrapped just weeks before the June Summit. Why Microsoft did not perceive the immediate need for 1080P is not too clear, though presumably they were betting on devices with smaller displays taking priority. 

Indeed the ‘phablet’ classification (devices with displays ranging over 5 inches) is still a new category that is being explored by OEMS. Most techies blew off Samsung’s Galaxy Note device as a gimmick that is until it sold very well prompting the development of the Note II (and even a Note III is being rumored already).

With no ability to reach for 1080P though, HTC sees Windows Phone 8 as unnecessarily handicapped, which we agree. (HTC just launched the Droid DNA on Verizon, featuring a 5” 1080P display, resulting in a staggering 441 PPI).

Ballmer's ad endorsing the HTC 8X

Bloomberg also goes on to cite HTC’s numbers that 70% of Windows Phone 8 ads feature the 8X Windows Phone, including Steve Ballmer’s “this is my Windows Phone” ad. While the relationship between Nokia and Microsoft is often emphasized, it is clear that HTC and Microsoft have a long history too and things are looking good between the companies. HTC recently reported increased revenue, partially due to the success of the HTC 8X (and now 8S) phones, which have garnered a lot of favorable attention.

The question remains though how fast Microsoft can try to please its OEM partners. And what about a 5” Windows Phone 8 device with 1080P made by HTC or even Nokia—would that be something you folks are interested in? Sound off in comments.

Source: Bloomberg

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • It's 768, not 763, Daniel. You just love that 763. :P
  • Yeah, not sure why that is...some cognitive priming thing. It's also hard to memorize the build numbers of the OS too.
  • ...because 3 looks like half an 8 lol =P
  • Daniel next time just fix the post and delete the comment, that's more like you, lol.
  • First! I don't know if a 5 incher is right for me. I don't really like the Note and my 920 has a great screen size.
  • I agree with you, love my white 920 but just think about it, 5" curved screen plus slimmer phone, plus I hope bigger battery like Motorola Razer Max 3300, I think it'd be really sexy looking Nokia
  • It may not be right for you, but it may be right for someone else.  Remember, Windows Phone is advertised as the phone for "each of us," not "all of us."  So while that applies to the customizable start screen, you could also extend it to lots of different device sizes.
  • Software has nothing to do with hardware. Windows phone is anOS, not a screen size.
  • However the OS does determine what screen resolutions are available. 
    The 800x480 resolution looks good enough on the 3.7inch screen of my Lumia 710, but would look horrible on a 5inch screen.
    Plus many customers are "spec wh0res"  and are overly concerned about silly specs instead of usability of the phone.  Those people will go ga-ga over a 1080p phone with approx. 450 dpi.  As useless as a phone with 1080p is, it is a great halo device that will get some people to take notice and consider a HTC Windows Phone.
  • 3.7, 3.8, 4.0, 4.3, 4.5 and 4.7(titan 2), pretty good selection if you ask me but I agree, there IS a market for bigger do hurry up MS!
  • 3.5 for the quantum and 4.1 for the venue pro. And 4.8 with Ativ.
  • sadly there is no choice below 4.3 currently, not WP8 anyway. Wish they'd go smaller before going bigger!
  • 8s...
  • The 8S isn't easily available in the US.
  • not on AT&T. Besides I want a high end phone that is small, no compromises. 
  • Do people really still put "first!" on posts?  That is the single most immature thing that could be done on a comment board, right behind making self glorifying statements that merely express preferences.  "I don't like... it's not right for me..." these add nothing to the discussion.  Sorry, I could not resist.
    I agree that the 920 has a perfect screen size, but I absolutely think there's a market for the Note.  I played with a Note II the other day and it does have some really cool features.  No, it will not be for everyone, but that doesn't mean a company should not attempt a WP phablet.  Who's to say it couldn't be a game changer.
  • +1
  • First
  •  "I don't like... it's not right for me..."
    I don't mind these kind of posts at all.   Especially if the user gives a real reason - and not just that they hate vendor X in general.     I want a real discussion.   I tire of the posters that shout "Troll!" if somebody doesn't 100% support the post.   No dissenting opinions wanted.   I find I also want to hear about competitive devices.   So I don't mind that if the discussion is about Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 920, that users may still want to compare it to the Galaxy Note.   As long as a logical discussion is provided, I'm game to read about it.
  • I would want one from both with their respective features
  • Too big for my hands, although such a device would be gorgeous. How do you price it with Nokia rumored to have a tablet in development as well.
  • U do know what they say about guys with big phablets :P
  • That they have empty wallets?  lol
  • ...among other things!
  • Cha Ching! Lol
  • First Nokia pushed for 4g. Now HTC pushes for 1080p. Good job by the OEMs
  • I agree, the size is wholly unnecessary to me but why not push for enhanced features? At least they didn't just pout and storm off saying"NEVER AGAIN" like most haters and LG!
  • Agreed!
  • yeah LG put out a flagship LOL the only thing i will say never again too is an LG considering everything i have ever owned from them has been a piece of shizit
  • I know it's not for everybody, but I would love a WP8 "phablet".  
  • I am betting it would be a monster success. Huge market for it. Large profits are out there, and HTC is big on WP 8 and profits.
  • No limits, Microsoft has a chance to show how fast they can react to the phone/tablet space
  • windows has an opprotunity to own the laptop/tablet space as well as the phone/table space and create unique hybrid devices that will play well with the productivity software.
  • I think that 1080p is a necessity bc consumers look at specs; its just the reality.  However, the truth is once you have a phone and use it, you no longer notice things like this unless you are doing side by side comparisons.  That being said; I think 5" phones are too large.  I just got the 8X and it is very comfortable for me but I can't imagine going larger than 4.5 or maybe 4.8.
    Also, if Samsung did the Ativ S as a 4.8 screen; I am sure that a 5 inch isn't too much of a stretch.
  • Yeah I think a 1080p 5" would be a great phone, especially for a person that does not like small screens. IE my aunt and uncle, they have bad eyes :-)
  • I really think for many of those customers there should also be some awesome accessories by OEM for these phones too. Like a screen magnifier, a Bluetooth phone keyboard, and even some better power cases...etc =P
  • If they have bad eyes they only need the size, not the resolution ;)
  • Windows phone 8 does feature the ease of access settings with a screen magnifier option, but like a lot of people I wouldn't mind seeing a 5" 1080p screen along with a quadcore qualcomm krait cpu with adreno 320 graphics.  This is essentially what the Droid DNA is.  Makes me wonder if they were testing Windows Phone 8 on this hardware at one time.
  • I would never use it as a phone in public, but I would love a Note II sized device. Especially if it came with stylus support. The Note II is the only Android device that I even gave a second look after a switched to WP.
  • For 1080p, Microsoft would like them to use Win8, but not WP8.
    Because when 10" Surface are only using < 1080p, it is quite interesting that a mobile phone get a higher resolution
  • I was thinking the same thing. How would Windows RT look on a 6" phablet? It would destroy Android (and Note II, I guess even III) in multitasking!
  • May be in v2, but rt is not right for phablets unless they completely hide/remove the desktop and or reengineer office to be a true touch suite.
  • I agree with this, anything like 5 or 7 inches should have RT less the desktop. They just need to add Word, Excel & Power Point MX to compliment One Note MX for basic editing. This would be killer.
  • I'd love a 5" screen, this is a good push from HTC.
  • Same here. I would love to have one. I was disappointed having to lose screen size when I went from Titan to 920. Even though the res is much higher. Love bigger screens.
  • The 5 inch phone isn't something I'm interested in, personally, but it definitely has a fan base and MS would be foolish not to jump on that bandwagon asap. Honestly I don't know why a 1080p resolution wasn't a priority in the first place.
  • ...or at least the option of a mini HDMI port
  • Because a 1080p resolution is complete overkill on a phone sized device. People won't be able to tell the difference. There was a recent review of the screens on all the new phones. The HTC DNA didn'tt do that well. Even though it has the highest resolution, it suffered from a darker display and less accurate colors. They had the 52 and 920 at a near tie at the top. They said the higher resolution wasn't distinguishable. So, the question is why use a higher resolution that taxes the graphic processor and battery? The other review was that the DNA had some lag issue which they believed was due to the higher resolution.
  • ^This
    Text will be sharper on a higher resolution screen.  When reading text, color accuracy is secondary.  I have been wanting a paper magazine like resolution on a phone for a long time.  Our eyes can tell at reading distance.
    Whoever made that limit on the Windows phone was very shortsighted.   It’s funny that Android is having the same power as the old windows mobile and see how it thrived.  Now MS is putting artificial limits on their OS because that’s what Apple did.  It’s time to let the engineers make the technical decisions.  An OS should not limit the hardware advances, period.  Android has it's problems but I am sure MS woulnd't mind to be in that position.  
    Bill Gates would not have approved such artificial limits on the Windows phones.
  • That's not entirely true. Text will be sharper, but that can be achieved through software and lower resolution too. Haven't you seen the screen comparizon between the Surface and the Android-tablet that has higher resolution than the Ipad 2?
    Text looks equally good on the Surface as it does on the Android-tablet, but because the Surface also shows all graphics at their native resolution (the Android-tablet up-samples the graphics) overall the Surface looks way better.
    Most graphics today are made with a 1024x768 screen in mind, making higher resolutions essentially "overkill" since all graphical elements either has to be re-made in a higher resolution or they will look like crap on a screen smaller than 12" (because you zoom in more often). Apps can easily be "re-graphicaled" but surfing the web is just a horrible experience until all websites update their graphics.
  • Why compare to others.  Just compare to itself.  If RT had a higher resolution than the current one,  the Text will be even sharper.  Thus our eyes should be the ones to please.  This is an Apple lead trend and it's a good one to follow.
    BTW, RT is only better than the ones with similar resolutions.  But "it is not as sharp as the iPad 3 or 4", according to displaymate
  • It would be a great investment that should not be signed off.
  • You mean written off? One would pass while the other would not...
  • Heck yes!!! I loved my Titan 2 and really the only complaint I have on my 920 is a small screen size. It just seems as though there is alot of real estate that is wasted that could have been functional screen, like all the area under the back, windows and search buttons.
  • Screen size is only thing holding me back from upgrading to WP8 from HTC Titan. I've been with HTC since 2007 then Windows mobile and I have never use any other phone.
  • Totally agree. T-II was a joy and if they make a 5" with the feel of the 8x but with less wasted space, I'm all in. It doesn't have to be as thin as the 8x, but not as thick as my 920 IMHO. Then again a good battery and thin bezel is important and the non slip back and rounded corners so its easy to hold it. There you go, I've designed it ;-). HaHa...
  • If it was built like a Surface, I would seriously consider it.
  • Wait for the surface phone.
  • scale down windows 8 to 8.9 and scale windows phone 8 to 5
  • I think it'll definitely happen eventually
  • they are scalling windows 8 to 7 inch with the new version "windows blue"
  • The bigger, the better. Bring ot on. Long time user of the iPhone 4 and now rocking the Ferrari Lumia 920, I will never use a device with less than a 4.5" display.
  • Wouldn't it be awesome if Ferrari DID build one? I mean Porsche has a BlackBerry... =P
  • I'll never understand the huge phones, but hell they are selling pretty well
  • Given how hard VZW people push them, I doubt they are selling nearly as well as PR people would have you believe. I live in one of the areas where people have the disposable income to buy marketing's latest and greatest, and do so all the time, and I have only seen one in use. I do hear people joking about them though (generally that if they wanted to look that conspicuous they would buy a tablet and hold that to their ear). That nearly square LG abomination they are selling through VZW is also just embarrassing. Even VZW's staff don't direct people towards it.
  • Epic more choices although I fins it I little on the large side :-)
  • If I could put WP8 on the DNA I would have purchased that instead of my 8X. Bring on the Windows Phablet 8 devices!
  • So, Daniel, isnt 1080p possible with a software patch? I mean wp8 is based on the nt kernel right? what exactly would be the process of allowing wp8 to support 1080p?
  • Erm, a display needs 1080p in order to run 1080p. Your question is really vague.
  • I think the issue is, yes we don't expect current phones to suddenly become 1080p.
    However one of the reasons MS used to state that upgrading wp7 phones to wp8 was not needed is that wp8 was partly to allow for higher specs and older phones cant take advantage of that. So, the concern is genuine that if MS adds new features then they'll leave current wp8 phones out in the cold regarding keeping pace.
  • Question with current specs on Lumia 920 ativ s or HTC 8x could they upgrade from 720p to 1080p or is that a limitation of the screen put onto the device itself?
  • Limit by screen resolution, physical hardware.
  • Ok thanks
  • Anything larger than 4.3 seems too big to me.  Had an HD7 and HD7S and now a Lumia 900.  I couldnt handle something that wouldnt fit in my pocket with a case on it, the 900 right now is the limit.
  • Exacly, I still laugh when I see someone putting a note in their pocket, and even more so when they use it as a phone. Its a ridiculous size. If you want media consumption get a proper tablet even of its only a 7 inch tablet. 5/6 " is just ridiculous because it makes both a terrible phone and a mediocre tablet
  • A 5" Windows Phone  device would be great! But if it is limited to 16GB it would not be worth the time to keep deleting and adding content.  A lot of screen and a lot of space would be nice.
  • 1080 isn't even necessary
  • I like the note.. A Nokia 5 incher? with landscape mode on the start screen? Ooohh Maybe jst maybe :-D
  • I don't want a 5.5 inch standard windows phone. However, if they're gonna make a special version of OneNote and get some official video apps (vimeo/youtube) that can run in conjunction so you can annotate and watch, now im interested. If you're gonna recreate the palm pilot, get creative with some special applications that can leverage all that battery eating screen and a stylus. The Galaxy Note is huge but it serves a specific purpose. If they're not gonna duplicate it's functionality all they're gonna get is a bunch of people complaining about bad battery life.
  • Yes! I would love a 5" windows phone. I would really love a Ativ Note!
  • It's going to happen sooner or later, so why not make 1080p available now and sell some more phones.
  • While I believe that there is no technical need to go to 1080p, there seems to be a standarization need. HTC has decided to make a new generation of 4.7 inch devices like the OneXplus with a 1080p screen. Of course, the unit price of each LCD screen and also of the rest of the hardware depends heavily on volume. So, MS will probably have to support 1080p rather quickly on WP8 because of cost factors in the hardware. I still believe that 720768p is enough for 2013 for WP8, provided that HTC would also add a 4.7 inch device. But if HTC goes all 1080p, then it becomes a cost issue and thus WP8 must support 1080p, even if the screen is only 4.7 inches.
  • 1080P is the format that movies are being created in so watching a movie on a hi-res 5" display would be most efficient.
  • Let's get the OS working first before we worry about 1080p. Lets get Skype working and live tiles updating. And speaking of SDK...the holdup caused all this mess in the first place!
  • I would. I don't like devices sized between 4 and 5 inches. I think 4" is the best size for one handed usability and that if you want a big screen for media you need at least 5".  I think anything inbetween is a comprimise that doesn't really do good at either.  4.3"+ devices become increasingly difficult to use one handed (I retruned my HTC Titan because of this) and devices smaller than 5" aren't really great for media cause they are still so small.  Now that I work in a job were I can't use my cell phone (work in a prison, no personal electronics allowed, and we are in the mountains so I wouldn't have service even if they changed to policy), I almost never use it one handed, so the giant screen phones are starting to appeal to me.  Hardware wise, the Galaxy Note II is the most appealing phone on the market to me, but I hate Android.  The rumors of a 6"+ screen on the Note III have me seriously thinking I may have to return to Android unless MS allows 1080p and manufacturers bring some 5" or larger phones.
  • Eww a 6" Note?? Sorry, it just baffles me... =[
  • Really? Where do you put your phone when you are not using it? Backpack? Because I seriously doubt you can comfortably put a 6" device in your pocket
  • 1080p on a 4.5 inch (screen size) phone please.
  • That is so unneeded i don't even know where to begin.  720/768 already provides a resolution where the human eye cannot see individual pixels when used at a distance that most normal people would hold a phone from their face.
  • Needed or wanted?  If it's not needed, who makes that determination?  If it not wanted the market will determine that through demand!  And if you look at the market the phones with the largest displays also have the highest demand.
  • Why not use a 7" nexus tablet as phone? We're getting there anyway, and sooner than later all our phones will have a 10" screen because everyone want screen size.
  • I originally expected Microsoft to go after the phablet market themselves but would love for them to work with HTC and Nokia as well.
    Microsoft should be targeting the 5"+ market with everything it's got. Office and OneNote are core differentiators in the market and this is exactly where the strength of phablets lie. The Samsung Galaxy Note looks awfully clumsy and Microsoft could really win big if they nail that form factor. But they must act fast before Samsung and Android fill in the gap themselves.
  • Totally agreed! +1
  • Cancel everyones vacation and let's get it done!
  • My Ativ pushes my personal threshold for screen size, so I wouldn't buy it anyway, but I know it would help push adoption so I'm all for it.
  • To begin, a phone with a 5"display is just that -  a phone -  not a small tablet!  It is the culmination of the natural evolution of technology.  As we do more with our devices we need displays that can keep up with the applications that are being deployed in these devices. A 5" display is just the next step for people using their phones for business applications like Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint as well as those who WANT a great entertainment device.  Secondly the term "Phablet" just sounds Phreaking Phoolish! It is a ploy  by people who think that a 4" display may be too large... It's an attemp to diminish those of us who desire a high end phones with large displays. Personally I think there have been far too many low end devices with puny displays.  If these were selling well you wouldn't see the trend in the market for larger displays!  So stop inventing words and let the industry evolve!
  • Nokia is the only OEM who is fully supporting windows phone . But , instead of showing ads for nokia lumia series , about 70% of windows phone ads are for HTC . Well done microsoft !!!!!  
  • If im not mistaken OEMs provide advertisement for their own phones.
  • I've seen quite a number of Lumia ads...Samsung is the only one in a holding pattern =/
  • It's ok... Microsoft sends Nokia $1 billion Thank You's a year.
  • I think it's safe to say that that 1 billion is for Nokia's IP and Navteq to be used on ALL WP/Windows devices, and not for advertising.
  • Pls give me the 1 Billion dollar details.. All i heard is that they are not paying for license if they sell a particular number and also there is Nokia IP and Navteq. Pls give more details.
  • I can tell you the 1 billion dollars a year is delivered quarterly (250 million at a time). I have posted several times that as part of the deal, Nokia agrees to buy 'about' 250 million dollars a quarter worth of windows phone licenses, whether they sell them or not. They also provide mapping data and other IP. It seems they also promised to commit to Windows Phone, something that Microsoft obviously never promised in return. Microsoft seem to assume they'll have success in mobile and seem to be worried about losing control of that success to OEM's like Nokia. I think it makes sense that they don't want one OEM to control their destiny; unfortunately for Nokia, that's the case for them.
  • Exactly.. I have been seeing this and pissed off at MS. If not for Nokia i will move out of WP. 
  • I would love stylus support if they implement 1080p displays. Also, a better multitasking implementation to take advantage of that screen would most be welcomed.
  • I know there were a few users who were stylus-friendly but I was under the impression that when Microsoft introduced the world its tablets with a stylus it induced mass vomiting the world over...and NOW everyone wants to use a stylus?!? #ThereIsNoJustice =/
  • A few users? I believe we that were addicts of character recognition are still crying to have back that luxury. I want the stylus back 1020p or not, 5" or not too.
  • Do it, and add landscape as an option for the phone. 
  • I'm not interested in 1080P or a 5" phone.  The stylus I would love to have back, but it needs to fit inside the phone like they used to.  I'm not going to carry it around in my pocket.
  • Last night I was sad that after finally finding my old HTC Touch Pro 2 the stylus didn't work on my Lumia 920. I found a safety pin in the same location that the phone was and it worked jsut fine on the Lumia 920.  Very weird.  I wonder why taht is.  Oh yeah also my DS stylus didn't work either.
  • Whatever helps WP and MS, I'm all for it. But MS better get rolling with an update to 1080p soon so HTC and other OEMs can get started on new devices.
  • This stuff is more like checking a box.
    Like a front facing camera, dual core CPU, etc. It's not that people need to have a 5 inch phone with 1080P screens but it's important that they support it. 
  • While I'm wishing for things, I'd LOVE to have a Live tile section on my 360 that was its own "tab", rather than having to go into a segment.  Bing / Live Tiles/ my xbox / social / games / video / etc .... And let me organize it the same way I organize my WP8 - up and down scrolling, tile resizing, etc. 
    WP8 > W8 > XBox Metro > everything else (from a live tile perspective)
    Also, I want to be able to categorize sections of my live tiles (like W8).
    Please and thank you!!!
  • Plus one to this