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Microsoft reportedly waiving Windows Phone license fees for some hardware partners

Microsoft is beginning to try new things to tackle Android and iOS in the competitive smartphone market. Slashing the Windows Phone licensing fees for some OEM partners may be one option the company is looking into. According to a report on India Times, Microsoft is waiving license costs and offering the operating system to at least two Indian phone vendors for free.

Rum: 8

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year, Microsoft unveiled a bunch of new partners for Windows Phone, including two from India — Lava and Karbonn. The two companies will produce smartphones running Windows Phone this year and already make Android hardware running Google's OS for free. Microsoft making it so companies can produce Windows Phones at similar costs to Android certainly makes the platform more appealing, or that's the plan at least.

India Times has been informed by industry sources that Microsoft was in discussions with two local firms to produce affordable Windows Phones since last year, much like what the company is attempting to do with Windows 8. Should this report be accurate and Microsoft is indeed offering its OS to some partners for free, this would be an interesting move for Redmond, considering the company charges Nokia for each Lumia device.

This isn't a new era for Microsoft with no license fees for partners, but more a move to form specific deals for companies in certain markets to help produce more affordable products. We can definitely see this as a likely plan of action for the company, which is surely attempting to make Windows Phone 8.1 "work." The update will look to inject new life into the platform with common annoyances being addressed, new features added and more.

This is all rumor still, for now. We'll look into the situation further and update you all should we learn anything new.

Source: India Times, via: WMPU; thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • LAVA and Karbonn here in India. I wish Micromax have a taste of it too. So many people here trust Micromax (I personally don't)
  • They should keep faith on the ASS too. Heard stories of unending queues outside the service centers :P
  • LOL! True that's why I don't trust but can't explain this to all those who go for a walk and get tempted by large screen displays or just by a friend's phone and then guess what, buy it immediately. Who cares.... at least it won't be buggy like Android and marketshare would increase. So, unending queue would be slashed by half... hardware part remains.
  • Biggest regret i have is buying the micromax funbook.
  • Not just you. Almost 90% of Micromax users. But none can stop them from having interest in large and appealing displays at lost cost untill they meet the same fate.
  • Good move. MS should offer WP OS free of charge to every phone producer.
  • Good for the platform great for consumers.
  • Will it even work? I mean those who aren't committed might make crap windows phones. Quality vs Quantity I guess...
  • Cheap phones resulted in 80% Global marketshare of Android, pray that such cheap phones take windows phone over 10 in 2-3 years, or else you favourite expensive windows phone will also die when they kill off the project just like zune and kin due to less market peneteration. Also, those cheap devices will still meet the minimum spec requirements like Qualcomm snapdragon chipsets, 512MB ram, 800x480 screen etc..
  • I know cheap Windows phones are key for it... But I'm scared of the truly crap low end that some companies make, Lumia 520 is amazing in comparison to those....
  • I doubt it. Microsoft doesn't let OEMs have much control over the OS. I would think they run same on software just different hardware.
  • Microsoft does not allow phones to be put out by any OEM unless they give their ok. It's for this reason why we get good experience from the entry-point devices like the 520, the HTC 8X (even with the low 4MB storage performs beautifully), and the Huawei W1.
  • Actually, 8.1 supports even lower resolution.
  • Android is the biggest mobile OS in the world for that very reason. Samsung and HTC have only produced phones when WP8 first came out and Nokia can't do it all by themselves nor do they have the brainwashing expertise of Apple. The original appeal of WP was a high quality OS with a lot of polish on the same level as Apple but with a wider range of devices that we'd seen with Android but unfortunately WP was a flop and OEMs haven't backed it like we'd hope.
  • It will work for sure. Just wait and watch...
  • So why do we have the Nokia X again?
  • Because that's not Microsoft X, i guess.
  • Because Nokia is not Microsoft and they wanted it. They were already preparing Android anyway so might as well release it while they still own the devices division.
  • Isn't that discrimination? Someone please clarify. Doesn't it have to be equal for all OEMs, the license fee?
  • Shouldn't you be appreciating? LAVA and Karbonn are not big players like Nokia, Samsung, Sony etc... They are local key players in India and few other neibour nations who have already overcrowded Android users for it had free license and moreover these companies can't afford to invest $20 - $30 for every handset.. Reason being that they can sell their phones at the cheapest when price points  are concerned unlike other OEMs, comman mass (majority) ain't tech savvy, they just run after large screens and cameras, so running WP8 in these phones would result in increased userbase of WP marketshare for sure.
  • I guess this means "get folk to wp, they'll upgrade to nokia sooner or later"
  • We can hope so. At least its better than Nokia X thing...
  • I do agree..
  • I agree with dadstar. I don't see why other OEMs (such as HTC, Samsung, huawei) will pay Microsoft a license fee if new OEMs are given the OS for free. It's kinda unfair.
  • I think some of the android patent deals that ms has also included some terms like no charge for WP licenses and we will only charge you x amount if you build wp
  • We do not know the terms and conditions that MS apply to these licenses, probably they are restrictive in terms of hardware or geographical regions
  • Manufacturers: It's free!!!!
  • I think MS should look at a revenue sharing option with the marketplace. If they gave OEMs and carriers each 5% of net sales for the life of a device, would that incentivize them to keep devices up to date? Maybe this is already done, but i haven't heard it mentioned before.
  • About time!!!!! free windows phone. free windows RT. Free windows 8. MSFT has a marketshare problem. This is the solution. Monetize it the google way. I'm sure google is pissing their pants at the thought of free windows everywhere because although it may be years before it can challenge android, it would finally create an OS that is able to challenge it at the same level. Go MS. Dont' be affraid.
  • +928
  • +1520
  • +520
  • +720
  • How would Microsoft make money if its all free? Mining our data like Google?
  • No not like Google. I guess they are trying to increase the marketshare at the cost of licensing fees....
  • When u get market share u get clients as sponsors too.
  • +720
  • I don't recall the percents but the vast majority of google's 60 billion dollars in income is ads. Profit is probably equially impressive, and wouldn't be surprised if long term, it surapassed all of microsoft's profit. Those ads are in services you use, but mostly search results. If MSFT can monetize it even half as effectively without becoming creepy, we're talking WP has the potential to be the next billion dollar business. But you have to start by having faith in your services and giving the OS away. MSFT is more liberal than google (so far). They pioneered the do not track default which firefox and Apple adopted (and the apache foundation had to eat crow after that). So they could still profit greatly by basically marketing themselves as the "don't do evil" company, much in the same way google deceptively used this tactic in its early years. In many ways, MSFT could easily re-create the google ecosystem in a light user and privacy friendly way and frame google as "evil". All is fair in marketing after all :)
  • Well said!
  • @neonspark Where do you get your data, from the hot air arising from your butt?!!!! For the past several quarters, Microsoft's sales and profits were 50% higher than Google's!!! Are you an alien or what!!!
  • Fight free with free.
  • Is possible to Sony was not mentioned in Barcelona to has it own announcement about WP? Or even in BUILD?
  • Build seems likely. :-)
    Here's WP 8.1 and here's the first WP 8.1 device! A Sony WP! That would be awesome! Can't wait for April 2.
  • Imagine a Sony, Windows Phone 8.1 device with PSN companion app.
  • PSN AND Xbox in one phone, I would admit, I think I would get into PSN more than I am now. That would be very cool.
  • The situation with Sony is more complex than with other OEMs. While it's true that Sony is moving towards mobile, it's also true that that will mean they're dropping Windows.
    They already have an Android solution for phones and tablets, solution that is integrated with their services. Services that collide directly with the Xbox stuff. Unless Microsoft is willing to allow Sony to remove and block the Xbox stuff from their phones and have it all replaced by Sony's Playstation offerings...I don't think it will happen that soon.
  • Then again, sony's arch nemesis is Samsung. Guess who is samsung's best buddy? now guess who is Google's biggest enemy. The enemy of my enemy is my friend? maybe sony sees it this way. And although they are fierce rivals in gaming, sony and MSFT are big enough to isolate divisions where friends in mobile and arch-nemesis in gaming could happen.
  • Except in this case, the rivalry in gaming is extended to the mobile platforms because Sony offers exclusively on their phones services connected with the PlayStation as well as Walkman. Those services colide with the Xbox stuff on WP. Directly. It's not a question of being palls because of Samsung. Samsung has a good relationship with both Microsoft and Nokia too (actually, Samsung seems to only have a war going on with Apple).
  • Replying to your previous comment.. "Unless Microsoft is willing to allow Sony to remove and block the Xbox stuff from their phones and have it all replaced by Sony's Playstation offerings" Maybe that can just meet half way? offer BOTH. I mean surely Microsoft isn't going to tailor their WP OS just for Sony. BUT it is super simple to turn off every single Xbox service on my phone (actually I have it all off right now lol) So the option is there for Sony, offer your standalone apps on the store (quicker updates anyway) and the Sony, PSP,PS fans will just turn off Xbox in the settings and there ya go lol
  • Samsung is not only having a war with Apple, they are trying to muck up the MS/Nokia acquisition as well.
  • Sony does not sell enough Android phones for Microsoft to actually disable XBox in WP just so they would come in. Sony is not that big in mobile. Not even LG, which sells more phones than Sony, can get that kind of deal. If Sony were anywhere near Saumsung in sales then it could happen. As it is, absolutely not happening. Having said that, I personally would like to see a Sony come out with a WP8.1 device before LG or Samsung et al. Other than Sony, I also would like to see an HTC One/M8 version with WP8.1 in it. Speaking of Sony and Android, I actually see them languishing where they are right now for years to come, and maybe forever. True ot not, they have gained this reputation for "releasing and forgetting". Maybe WP8.1 could provide a fresh start for them because other than in game console, they definitely are stagnating. 
  • Sony is facing multi-Billion dollar losses every year since last 3 years, so it does not make sense for sony to enter into any other experiment.
  • but to whom? samsung. Does sony helping google not in fact help samsung? Can they leverage windows to grow a samsung counter-weight if the windows platform emerges as the force to re-balance the android dominance?
  • First of all let us leave out Windows platform equation as sony has already terminated windows platform by selling the Vaio Laptop divison.   Now, regarding going with windows phone as counter balance against Android-Samsung will be a foolhardy move in the present financial condition of Sony, it may even lead to sony's death, no sane ceo will greenlit such a project now.   The only one who can countre-balance Android now is Samsung but they are not interested in windows phone they are intersted in making Tizen as good as possible so that they can replace Andriod in future.   The only way for windows phone to grow is keep producing good phones fron Nokia phone divison, encourage HTC to give their best and support Indian and Chinese OEM's in selling few million budget phones. This way atleasr some 10-15% marketshare can be reached and windows phone survival can be ensured.
  • I love wpc, but I read this on the verge more than 3 hours ago
  • OMG, three HOURS!!  
    that's hideous, THE SKY IS FALLING!!!! don't you have anything better to do than complain over trivial stuff??
  • Lol. RIP M$ Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • That's fine. I was watching windows weekly and Leo laporte had a similar visceral reaction to the though of cheap or free windows on cheap hardware...because they KNOW this is android's primary stranglehold on the market and there isn't anything google can do to stop bleeing share to this move.
  • I hope this includes Sony
  • I guess it won't... :(
  • Sony is bleeding money so I don't think it'll happen in the near future.
  • Well, I can see them having different prices depending on the device. Free for the low end low cost, and full price for premium phones. That seems reasonable to me.
  • I think this is unfair to the other OEMs. However, I think it is more pertinent that these new manufacturers stick to the Qualcomm reference design. After all, they're getting the software for free.
  • I already have a wp(HTC 8X), I want Karbonn or Lava to make a cheap and decent windows tab and I will be happy
  • To little to late
  • Too few o's, too late to edit.
  • Coming from someone who lack "o"s, I guess that doesn't mean much.
  • LOL, I have to say it again, now read carefully-
  • If I were HTC or Samsung and saw Microsoft giving the OS for free to some unknown Indian OEM, while charging me for it, I would order the immediate cease of production of any WP device and would drop the platform. It's simply not fair.
  • Last I look, there's nothing in production so nothing to stop.
  • I still think they should split the profits from their app store with the phone manufacturer and possibly even the carrier servicing the phone at the time of app purchase. Instead of 70% dev and 30% MS it could look something like 70% dev 20% ms 7% phone manufacturer and 3% carrier. give them a source of recurring revenue for pushing the platform.
  • should have been free from the start
  • I've only been saying this for a year and a half. Extend this to Samsung, LG & HTC, then along with relaxed hardware requirements, watch how quickly the market share rises.
  • Microsoft should be license fee free on WinPhone. They can make up their money on active users in the store and in data.
  • They should've done this a long time ago. They make more than enough money off of all of the licensing deals they've signed with Android OEMs.