Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 Isn't Even Out Yet And It Already Has A Big Mess On Its Hands

steve ballmer and peter chouMicrosoft CEO Steve Ballmer and HTC CEO Peter Chou.

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

On Sept. 5, Nokia and Microsoft announced a new smartphone, the Lumia 920, calling it the “flagship” device for the Windows Phone platform.On Sept. 19 HTC and Microsoft announced a new smartphone, the Windows Phone 8x, calling it the “signature” device for the Windows Phone platform.

There seems to be a messaging problem here.

A lot of members of the tech press who attended both Nokia and HTC’s events this month were left scratching their heads today. How can Microsoft have two hero devices?

I’m not sure anyone knows.

I asked an HTC rep after the event and got a wishy-washy answer that went something like, “Well, HTC has been working with Microsoft on mobile products for years and our marketing strategies are aligned moving forward and we named it ‘Windows Phone 8x’ so people will know this is the hero device for Windows Phone 8 and, and, and…” I got a similar speech from HTC’s president Jason Mackenzie when we met about a week before today’s announcement.

It feels like Microsoft is dancing around its hardware partners, playing both hands and hoping one of them comes out with a winner. Windows Phone still hasn’t taken off yet, and the platform really needs a hit. You can bet that’s why Microsoft isn’t playing favourites. (Although I suspect Nokia is the secret favourite.)

All that aside, this is going to be really confusing for consumers when Windows Phone 8 devices launch this fall. First of all, neither company will provide solid release dates or pricing for their phones. In Nokia’s case, we still don’t know for sure what carriers the new Lumia phones will run on. Yet the companies still hold big press events and bring up Ballmer to ra-ra-ra a product that isn’t finished.

(Both Nokia and HTC wouldn’t let me check out the Windows 8 software because it isn’t finished yet. Nokia wouldn’t even let the press touch its phones. HTC would, but the phones were locked so I couldn’t play around with the operating system. That is never a good sign.)

So between all the hype for unfinished devices and software and Microsoft claiming two different phones from two competitors are the *it* device for its new mobile OS, I bet the next round of phones have the same amount of success with the public the last generation did. None at all.

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