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Verizon gets back on board with Windows Phone

With the HTC Windows Phone 8X, Verizon ends its Windows Phone dry spell.

Steve Ballmer and HTC Windows Phone
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer holds aloft the HTC Windows Phone 8X at the New York launch event.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Verizon has never been a staunch supporter of Windows Phone OS, at least in deed. But now, after a long hiatus, the U.S.' largest carrier is offering its first Windows Phone device in over a year. Verizon's sale of the HTC Windows Phone 8X is a move that could give both Microsoft and HTC the dramatic bumps they both need.

The re-emergence of Verizon as a source for Windows Phone is a tremendous win for Microsoft, which has seen the spread of its OS limited by Verizon's wait-and-see attitude. The carrier's tremendous clout could help cement Microsoft's Windows Phone OS as the third alternative to iOS and Android platforms.

In taking on the HTC Windows Phone 8X, Verizon is also granting HTC a boon: a chance for its nearly 100 million subscribers to see, handle, and possibly buy a Windows Phone. With AT&T and T-Mobile also on board, HTC will be able to dramatically increase its exposure to customers. The company must struggle to rebound from slipping sales, especially of its Android phones.

HTC and Microsoft have a long history together; HTC made white-label Windows Mobile phones for a long time. In fact, HTC first became a U.S. brand name on the basis of that partnership. Likewise, HTC and Verizon have a robust history, unlike Nokia, whose Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 the HTC phones challenge.

In contrast, AT&T has offered 7 smartphones with Microsoft's rebooted OS since Windows Phone first launched in 2010. T-Mobile sold four phones over the last two years, and Sprint, like Verizon, offered a single Windows Phone.

HTC's Windows Phone 8X handset features high-end specs like a 4.3-inch Super LCD 2 screen, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, an 8-megapixel camera, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and 1080p HD video. Of course, there's also NFC and 4G LTE speeds on board.

Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T are slated to get the Windows Phone 8X in November.