Microsoft has begun selling the Samsung Galaxy S8 series on its official online store in the United States where both smartphone models are now available for purchase in unlocked and carrier-branded flavors. The Microsoft Edition Samsung Galaxy S8 lineup is identical to the standard models in terms of hardware specifications, however the devices offered by the Redmond-based PC giant seem to be pre-loaded with the official Microsoft Launcher as well as several productivity-oriented tools including Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, as well as the Cortana virtual assistant powered by AI. And no, despite Microsoft's involvement in this particular release, the two Samsung devices at hand have nothing to do with the Windows Phone platform, and their launch on the Microsoft store only serves to further cement Windows Phone OS into the past.
Assuming that the Samsung Experience user interface employed by the Korean company on top of the Android operating system is not your cup of tea then you can now technically experience the Galaxy S8 hardware with a new Android launcher / UI from Microsoft. The Microsoft Launcher is available for download from the Google Play Store and compatibility is not limited to Samsung devices, but in this particular case, it comes as part of the Microsoft Edition Samsung Galaxy S8 experience. Spec-wise both the Galaxy S8 and the S8 Plus models retain their characteristics including the Snapdragon 835 chipset from Qualcomm providing eight Kryo CPU cores clocked at up to 2.35GHz along with an Adreno 540 graphics chip and 4GB of RAM. However, as the names suggest, the standard Samsung Galaxy S8 carries a 5.8-inch display whereas the Galaxy S8 Plus makes use of a larger 6.2-inch panel. Both displays feature a resolution of 2960 by 1440 with an unusual aspect ratio of 18:5:9 and provide always-on functionality backed by Super AMOLED technology. Given their difference in size, the Plus variant also accommodates a larger 3,500mAh battery compared to the regular model's 3,000mAh unit. At the moment the Samsung Galaxy S8 series runs Android Nougat but an upgrade to Android Oreo is already in the beta stages of development and a public release should occur in the coming months.
Price-wise, the unlocked Microsoft Edition Samsung Galaxy S8 can be acquired for $724, while Verizon and AT&T's variants cost $720 and $749, respectively. Meanwhile, the unlocked Microsoft Edition Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus has a price tag of $824, whereas the two carrier models cost $840 and $849.