Thought: Why the HD2 was meant for WP7, but missed it
Posted on 11-07-10 07:00 pm

The HTC HD2, released November of 2009, is a device to marvel over. Never before had Windows Mobile seen such a masterpiece. A huge, 4.3" screen. A capacitive screen. Built-in compass, and a blazing fast 1ghz Snapdragon processor. To compare it against the over Windows Mobile phones of the time, the Tilt 2 was released in October of 2009. This device featured a resistive touch screen and only 528 mhz of processing power. That's nearly half of what the HD2 supported, and looking at the competition, the Tilt 2 fit right in. So why was the HD2 so different? One theory is that the HTC HD2 was never intended to run Windows Mobile 6.5, but rather, Windows Phone 7. 

It all starts with the minimum specifications for Windows Phone 7, leaked as far back as May 2009. The early specifications called for a Qualcomm 8k series processor, which would include the QSD 8250 included in the HTC HD2. The specifications also called for a multi-touch capacitive screen, which the HD2 also includes. The other HTC devices at the time all ran on Qualcomm MSM processors, with about half the clock speed, and all had resistive screens. Why the sudden shift?

The next piece of the puzzle comes from the operating system development itself. The project started back in 2008 when Photon was scraped and the team was reorganized. The project was intended to be released in late 2009, but reached several delays. Due to the delay, Windows Mobile 6.5 was developed and released in October. Considering that Windows Phone 7's launch was replaced by Windows Mobile 6.5's, it's safe to say that the HD2 was probably on the Windows Phone 7 roadmap at one point in time. If Windows Phone 7 had been able to release that fall, the HD2 would have easily fit the first draft of requirements.

The newly released HTC HD7 also points a strong finger towards the HD2, and that can be taken literally. The HD2 and HD7 share almost every specification down to the processor, camera, and even dimensions. The difference? The HD7 is Windows Phone 7 branded, with the three front facing buttons: Back, Windows, and Search. The WM 6.5-based HD2, on the only hand, nearly fits the HD7's technical specifications verbatim, but fails to meet the updated external design. 

Unfortunately for HD2 buyers, Microsoft announced back in March that the HD2 would not receive Windows Phone 7, due to it not fitting the updated specifications. The major difference in the specifications was the requirement for the three front facing buttons, which the HD2 failed to meet. As far as technical specifications go, the T-Mobile version of the HTC HD2 even included extra storage ROM, which points even closer to HTC wanting Windows Phone 7 on the device.

The latest piece of evidence comes from the video of the HTC HD2 running Windows Phone 7. The device is seen booting up from the powered down state, right into the bootloader and straight onto Windows Phone 7. Even stronger, the ROM running on the device is not recent build. In fact, it shares many characteristics that the Barcelona demo build showed, right down to the black Xbox Live tile and the blue Windows flag. So what does this mean?

Our theory is this: HTC was designing the HD2 as one of the first Windows Phone 7 devices. Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7's development was delayed. Due to the delay, the HD2 had to be released early, since it was already designed and ready for shipment. The device received a nice coat of paint (Sense) on top of Windows Mobile 6.5, and was off to the market with plans to update to Windows Phone 7. Due to the shift in specifications, however, the HD2 missed the bullet, and instead would be stuck on Windows Mobile 6.5, due to the different hardware design. Even though the HD2 would not receive an update, HTC would have had an internal rom for testing purposes. If this rom got leaked, however, it would explain the flawless booting process seen in the above-mentioned video, assuming the video is legitimate. As far the HD7, HTC probably just changed the external design of the HD2, added some software polish, and sent it to the market.

It's a lot of speculation, and there's no good way of confirming it. However, it does make one wonder: Was the HTC HD2 intended to receive Windows Phone 7?

Let us know what you think below.

#wp7 #hd2

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