Earlier today at #build2014, its annual developers conference in San Francisco, Microsoft announced that hardware manufacturers will be allowed to use the Windows OS for free, on phones and tablets with screen sizes below 9”. But a license fee will still be applicable for business devices.
This move might have come a bit too late, but nevertheless as the saying goes ‘Better later than never.’
Even though this announcement will not affect the high end Android devices, it will surely have some effect on the low end and mid-range Android market. The move should also improve the user base of Microsoft’s cloud base services services like Microsoft Office, Skydrive and Skype.
With a lackluster OS performance on Nokia’s high end Lumia devices, Windows Phone OS had been facing the flack for issues like integrating with Google services and an app store with not much variety of apps as compared to that of Android and iOS.
Emerging markets, which are currently being flooded by low-end and mid-range Android devices, by both local and international manufacturers, users might soon also have an option t purchase a devices with a look and feel different to that of Android’s.
Earlier this year, Nokia, who’s Lumia series run on Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS launched its Nokia X lineup with an Android based OS.
Microsoft charges device manufacturers between $5-15/device to use its OS but with the new move, even though might loose out on some of this licensing fee, should be able to gain paid subscribers for its cloud based services.
Another change we might also see is the reduction in pricing for existing Windows based mobile devices with screens smaller than 9”, as the manufacturers usually factor in the price they pay for the OS into the device’s final market price.
Along with this, Microsoft also announced the launch of its, Siri like, voice activated in-device assistant called Cortana.
The company also recently announced new versions of its Office apps Word, PowerPoint and Excel for Apple’s iPad, a more powerful counterpart to its iPhone edition.
Even though Microsoft had entered the Mac OS space late, within a day after OneNote for Mac launched, the app hit the #1 rank in the Mac app store.
Earlier in March 2013, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft had announced free licensing of its mobile OS for local mobile manufacturers from around the world, including Karbon and Lava from India, who will soon be launching devices based on the Windows Phone OS.
For now Android with nearly 80% of the market share has not much to worry from Microsoft’s free Windows move, as it has a long way to catch up from its existing 3% Windows Phone OS market share.