Windows 10 finds a new smartphone ally: Alcatel OneTouch

The Chinese smartphone maker confirms it is making a Windows 10 phone that will debut before year's end.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng
2 min read

Microsoft shows off a preview of Windows 10 for phones. Microsoft/Screenshot by CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Alcatel OneTouch has Microsoft's back.

The Chinese company known for its low-cost phones will make a smartphone running Microsoft's Windows 10 software, which launched just over a month ago on PCs and tablets. It plans to unveil a Windows 10 smartphone before year's end, Steve Cistulli, Alcatel OneTouch's senior vice president for North America, said in an interview here Thursday at the CTIA wireless trade show.

"We are very supportive of the Windows ecosystem," Cistulli said.

Cistulli's confirmation comes on the heels of a leak about a purported Windows 10 smartphone from Alcatel OneTouch. Details of the device, dubbed the Fierce XL, emerged from tech leaker Evan Blass, who posts on Twitter under the handle Evleaks. Cistulli declined to comment on the leak.

Alcatel OneTouch's backing represents a rare bit of support for Windows 10 on the smartphone side. While PC makers have embraced the new software, smartphone vendors have been lukewarm due to the dominance of Google's Android and Apple's iOS software for mobile devices.

Microsoft plays up the unifying nature of Windows 10, with its ability to run on smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices, but consumer interest has been moderate so far. Less than 4 percent of the US market uses a Windows Phone, according to Kantar WorldPanel.

Microsoft turned off some of its smartphone partners when it acquired the hardware operations of phone maker Nokia last year. That acquisition has since soured as Windows Phone sales have continued to founder. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft took a $7.6 billion charge in July related to the acquisition and said it would cut 7,800 jobs.

Regardless, Microsoft has said it will launch a high-end Windows 10 smartphone by the end of 2015.

Although Windows Phones have struggled in the high end, the software has done better in the market for budget phones, such as the Lumia 532 , which sells for $93, £69 or AU$126.

Alcatel OneTouch, owned by Chinese television giant TCL, started selling smartphones in the US just two years ago but it's hoping to catch up quickly. Earlier this year it promised to significantly boost the amount it spends on marketing and to invest in tech talent in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company hopes to catch a measure of success with an affordable smartphone running Windows 10, which it plans to sell through at least one US carrier.

Microsoft declined to comment.