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Microsoft Windows Phone launches in China on HTC Eternity

About 17 months after Windows Phone launched in the U.S., Microsoft's mobile operating system is now available on smartphones in China.

HTC and Microsoft announced Wednesday that China's first Windows Phone, the HTC Eternity, is now on sale.

While the Eternity being on sale is progress for Windows Phone, as China is considered one of the most important consumer markets for tech companies to succeed in nowadays, the phone has launched without the official backing or subsidy support of any wireless carrier.

Instead, HTC is selling the Eternity "unlocked" and a user must purchase the phone and activate it with the carrier of their choice. Officials at HTC were unavailable to comment on why this was the strategy taken.

On the outside, it seems the Eternity isn't much different from HTC Windows Phone handsets we've seen in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Up front is a 4.7-inch touchscreen; the phone also has cameras on the front and back and a dual-LED rear flash.

HTC and Microsoft didn't offer spec details for the Eternity, but the phone is a spitting image of the HTC Titan, available in the U.S. from AT&T, which also has a 4.7-inch display. Both phones run on the latest version of Windows Phone known as Mango, with the Eternity's software modified for the Chinese market.

In a blog post, Microsoft spokesman Michael Stroh says the Eternity is one of the "first of many great Windows Phone handsets headed for China from Nokia and other phone makers this year."

"Our engineering and design teams really sweated the details, working hard to create a version of the software that both showcases the inherent beauty of Chinese characters and excites Chinese customers. We can't wait until they get their hands on it," Stroh said.

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