From the C|Net piece:
The underlying notion is this: Microsoft wants to make it easier to introduce devices that use the Windows Phone software. That was the message delivered this week's announcement of the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone.
Specifically, Microsoft has tweaked its Windows Phone 8.1 software so that hardware makers can lean on the hardware and reference designs they're already using to build devices for Android-based phones in order to build a Windows Phone device.
"We wanted handset makers like HTC to be able to leverage their engineering investment and provide them with a real choice," said Darren Laybourn, vice president of engineering for Microsoft in an interview following the launch of the HTC One M8 for Windows. "We feel the software should be the differentiator and not the hardware."
...Microsoft has struggled to convince hardware partners to make phones running the Windows Phone operating system in what has turned into a chicken-and-egg scenario. Device makers don't want to dedicate resources to building a Windows Phone because there are so few customers. But without the devices -- especially iconic ones that offer cutting edge components and technology -- the operating system will never gain popularity among customers.
...Microsoft's Laybourn said the company had begun tweaking the Windows Software to adapt to different hardware designs even before starting work with HTC. For instance, Windows Phone 8.1, launched in the spring, offers redesigned software keys that strip away the old hard buttons on the bottom of the device, replacing them with "soft keys" that pop up at the bottom of screen.
He said there are now 14 devices in Microsoft's reference design program expected to wind up as real products in the next six months. Some will use Android hardware designs reconfigured slightly to work with the Windows Phone software.
...What's more, the designs and specifications used to build Android devices are often a generation ahead of what's used in Windows Phone devices, Rubin added. This allows a company like HTC to build a truly high-end smartphone with the latest specifications.
Interesting stuff, one wonders which other Android hardware will end up with Windows Phone. Although Samsung and LG have dabbled in the platform before, I have to think that the chances of a Windows Phone-running Galaxy S5 or G3 are somewhat remote. Not least because of Samsung's somewhat hard wired control keys and LG's tight focus on Android. And Huawei has already ruled itself out, apparently. More likely is that some of the lower tier Android manufacturers, each struggling to make headway against the likes of Samsung and LG, will experiment with doing the same dual-purpose hardware trick that HTC has pulled off here.
See also our launch story on the HTC One (M8) for Windows. Although there's lots to like about the device, I have to take slight issue with the ' truly high-end smartphone with the latest specifications' bit. The One (M8) is over-large, with huge bottom bezel (though the speaker takes up some of this, it's true), plus the camera is an almighty kludge whose only saving grace is that it's very fast.
You can read the whole C|Net article here.