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Windows RT and Windows Phone to be free to device makers?

by Mark Tyson on 12 December 2013, 13:15

Tags: Windows Phone, Windows 8, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qab6fb

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It is rumoured that Microsoft is thinking of providing Windows RT and Windows Phone operating systems to hardware manufacturers license-fee-free in order to encourage development of Windows smart devices. If such a move plays out making a Windows device could be an even cheaper option for recently disinclined partners such as Samsung, LG and HTC.

Unnamed "sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans," spoke to The Verge and indicated that OS chief Terry Myerson is seriously considering the move from licensing fee charging to going fee-free. These plans are just in early stages and would probably be put into action to coincide with the 'Threshold' update, scheduled for Spring 2015, which as you will remember is said to be bringing back a functional Start Menu.

In analysing the decision it is interesting to note that Microsoft makes money from Google Android activations due to patent licensing deals. Whatever these costs to manufacturers, it would be more than the traditional meaning of the word 'free' if a device maker chose to build a Windows RT/Phone device. Remember Microsoft has already done something quite 'unthinkable' previously, by giving away Office with its smaller devices.

The Verge understands that the free OS would come with a push to make more money from the services bundled with the devices; many more devices would use Bing search and its ads and more people in the Microsoft ecosystem would more likely spend on its services; like subscriptions to Skype, SkyDrive etc. The move would also be a good counter attack against Google's Android.

This news/rumour follows revelations in October about Microsoft discussing lower licensing fees with HTC, which may with 'Threshold' be revised to free. I like the sound of the dual-boot option hinted at in that article. The big question is whether device makers will take the bait if Microsoft dangles its free Windows-for-devices worm. Also spring 2015 is a long way off in the fast moving world of technology.



HEXUS Forums :: 6 Comments

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They should do this NOW… but then again shortly it will be practically free to the best manufacturer or Windows phones. Maybe Lumia prices will fall a bit?
If they want to encourage manufacturers then best way surely is to encourage customer demand. And the best way to do that is to encourage developers to code for the platform.

As far as I see it smartphone platforms fall into a Definitely/Probably/Possibly trio. Pick a non-trivial app and ask “Is it on this smartphone OS?”. With iOS it's “Definitely”, with Android “Probably”, and Windows Phone 8 is still “Possibly”. So encourage more developers and get that Possibly to a Probably. (And don't flame me - I know that there's Android or WP8 apps that aren't on iOS).

Big plus for Microsoft is of course that they presumably get money from the developers kit and failing that, a slice of the app store payments. On the other hand, making the OS free surely won't cut the purchase cost of the phone by that much.

The interest for me though is that a “free” WindowsRT - if the full edition - might mean that the no-brand Chinese makers pick it up, and we'll see some very price-attractive ways to run Office on the move.
1. Make it free.

2. Release installable versions for popular rootable android phones. Microsoft are big enough to do this if they want.

If they do both of these (They will never do both) then suddenly you'll have lots of geeks upgrading to new phones knowing their ‘old’ phone can be reused as a ‘I’ll give it a bash' Windows device rather than sold on eBay or passed down to a family member.
Jenny_Y8S
1. Make it free.

2. Release installable versions for popular rootable android phones. Microsoft are big enough to do this if they want.

If they do both of these (They will never do both) then suddenly you'll have lots of geeks upgrading to new phones knowing their ‘old’ phone can be reused as a ‘I’ll give it a bash' Windows device rather than sold on eBay or passed down to a family member.
Actually, that's a damned good idea - especially given the atrocious support wrt OS upgrades that Google seems to be happy with in Android at the moment. The “two upgrades and you're done” attitude.

Also be a damned fine way to prove this “Windows Phone 8 is less resource intensive” claim that Microsoft trots out at intervals. And on the tablet side, heck I can think of a couple of folks who'd LOVE to be able to install RT on old tablets. Windows RT running HP TouchPad anyone? ;)
I don't want dual booting but the ability to install my OS of choice on any device same as PC ecosystem.