Why it matters to you
If you were planning on picking up a Galaxy S8 when it launches late next month, you can currently pre-order from Samsung directly, from your wireless carrier, or from one of many retailers. As it turns out, though, you can also go to your local Microsoft Store.
Microsoft has announced it will be selling a customized version of Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone loaded with the company’s apps and services in its American brick-and-mortar locations. The device will launch on April 21 — the same as the regular S8 — and is seemingly identical to the standard version in terms of hardware.
More: Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus: Our first take
While all variants of the S8 ship with Skype, Office, and OneDrive in tow, the Microsoft edition adds Outlook and Cortana. It appears that these apps are added in-store by a representative when the phone is unboxed and connected to Wi-Fi. They’re also already available to all Android devices through Google Play, so it’s not like you’re getting any exclusive software here.
Seeing Microsoft apps launch on Samsung Android devices is nothing new, but this is one of the stranger partnerships the companies have had yet. The two tech giants have been in and out of court going as far back as 2010, when Microsoft accused Samsung of infringing on its patents. They settled, and Microsoft raked in royalties from Samsung’s products for a few years afterward, to the tune of a reported $1 billion in 2013 alone.
That agreement broke down in 2014, causing Microsoft to take Samsung back to court, and a new settlement was reached in early 2015. While the terms are undisclosed, Microsoft has made no secret of its eagerness to bundle its apps and services with devices from a multitude of Android manufacturers over the years. In a way, it gives the company something of a foothold within a platform that has achieved maturity and stability in the mobile landscape — something Windows never accomplished.
If you or your business is firmly entrenched in Microsoft’s productivity ecosystem — and you don’t want to go to the trouble of installing all those apps on your own — this edition of the S8 might be right for you. The prices are the same as what most carriers are charging: $750 for the standard-sized Galaxy, and $850 for the S8 Plus.
So long as you can ease the tension that will inevitably arise from having three virtual assistants on the same device, you can order one today from a Microsoft retail store. We do have our concerns though — things were already awkward between Google Assistant and Bixby, and we can’t imagine Cortana is going to help.