Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

At the end of October, Microsoft will introduce its Window 8 software for tablets and PCs and Windows Phone 8 software for smartphones. Taking no chances on the success of Windows 8, Microsoft developed its own tablet, the Surface. So far, it is trusting partners to create smartphones that make consumers fall in love with Windows Phone 8. "The experience on Windows Phone 8 is like the experience on no other phone," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at a Sept. 19 event with HTC. He added, "We are incredibly enthused about what we can do with HTC."

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The HTC-Microsoft Partnership

HTC and Microsoft said they plan to bring the Windows Phone 8X and 8S to market "in a big way." They plan to position them as signature Windows Phones devices and to align the companies' marketing messages. It will be the "biggest and most ambitious launch" that HTC and Microsoft have ever partnered on.

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Windows Phone 8X

The Windows Phone 8X will come in choices of yellow, red, blue and black. Both smartphones are approximately 10mm, or 0.39 inches, thin.

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Windows Phone 8S

Size is one way to tell the new HTCs apart. Still more easily, the 8X is made of a monochrome, unibody polycarbonate, while the smaller 8S is made of a two-tone polycarbonate. Here's a snap of the 8S from a promotional video.Â

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The 8S features a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera, while the 8X has "backside-illuminated 8MP camera that shoots full 1080p video," Microsoft said in a statement, and a front-facing 2.1MP camera that can capture 1080p video and has an 88-degree viewing angle. Because of the viewing angle, says HTC, four people are able to be visible on a Skype call.Â

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Beats Audio

Both the 8X and 8S feature Beats Audio technology for what HTC says is "studio-quality" sound. The 8X also has two dedicated amplifiers, one for the headphone jack and one for the speakers.

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Windows Phone 8X

The power button is the same color as the phone, helping it to blend in.

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Side View

The SIM card slot is above the volume buttons.

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Side View

Toward the bottom is a dedicated camera button that helps to speed the time from locked phone to catching the shot.

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Easy on the Eyes

The 8X's display is easy to read, even from extreme viewing angles.Â

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SuperLCD 2

The display on the 8X—actually a SuperLCD 2, versus the SuperLCD on the 8S—is absolutely crisp, to the point of seeming more like an image than a display.

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An HTC employee showed off a photo he snapped the night before with the Windows Phone 8X. While this photo of his photo doesn't fully do it justice, the camera's ability to catch such clarity in low light, and even details like the purple gleam of oil on the greasy sidewalk, are impressive.

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