Samsung Launches First Windows Phone 8 Smartphone, Vows Commitment To Microsoft's OS


Samsung beat Nokia to the punch this week, unveiling the world's first smartphone based on Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 OS.

Samsung lifted the curtain on its new Windows Phone-powered smartphone, called the Ativ S, at the IFA event in Berlin on Wednesday. The new device has a 4.8-inch HD display, runs on a 1.5GHz processor and is the first-ever to launch with Microsoft's latest mobile OS.

The Ativ S debut comes just one week before Nokia, the Finnish OEM that has become the de facto maker of Windows Phone-based smartphones, is widely expected to unveil its first Windows Phone 8 device on Sept. 5. Since Nokia's flagship line of Lumia smartphones will not be able to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 because of hardware limitations, as is the case with all smartphones running Windows Phone 7.5 or earlier versions of the OS, Nokia's new phone is expected to be an entirely new model.

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The new Ativ S could also represent a shift on Samsung's part to reduce some of its reliance on Google's Android OS, the mobile operating system that currently fuels its full lineup of Galaxy smartphones and tablets. After Samsung was found guilty last week of infringing on several Apple patents for the iPad and iPhone -- an outcome that is demanding it pay a whopping $1.05 billion damages -- some were left wondering whether Apple will target Google and its Android ecosystem next.

"It's highly likely that Samsung will seek to reduce its dependence on Google, while it continues to strengthen its Window-based product lineup," Lee Sun-tae, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, recently told the Wall Street Journal.

Samsung, for its part, said in a statement Wednesday that it is "committed to offering more choices based on the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 platforms for consumers." In addition to the Ativ S, the Korean tech giant also unveiled an 11.6-inch Ativ Smart PC notebook and a 10.1-inch Ativ Tab tablet, also based on Windows 8.

Samsung has offered other Windows Phone-based smartphones prior to the Ativ's launch, including its Focus line of devices, but they never gained the same popularity among consumers as its Android-based Galaxy phones have over the past few years.

Samsung's continued investment and "commitment" to the Windows ecosystem could give Microsoft a significant boost in the mobile market, where its Windows Phone platform currently accounts for a meager 4 percent of the U.S. subscriber base, according to recent research from ComScore. Android, by comparison, accounts for 50.8 percent. But with the support of Samsung, which ComScore pegged as being the biggest handset maker in U.S. with 25.9 percent share, Windows Phone could gain a new competitive edge.

The new Ativ S smartphone and other Windows-powered Ativ devices were launched this week alongside Samsung's new Galaxy Note II half-smartphone, half-tablet device, which, like its strong-selling predecessor the Galaxy Note, runs on Google's Android OS.

PUBLISHED AUG. 30, 2012