‘Open for business’ – Microsoft gives reference design for Windows Phone, announces nine new OEMs

Barcelona – Today, Microsoft announced a new reference design hardware sample for potential OEMs and ODMs. The move, in conjunction with reduced hardware requirements like front facing keys, will allow new manufacturers to easily jump on board with Windows Phone.

A new site (oem.windowsphone.com) that just launched will allow any potential manufacturer to view and review key component and design details based off of the Qualcomm reference design. The move is certainly bold, as Microsoft is now actively courting all hardware device makers to get on board with Windows Phone. To sweeten the deal, Microsoft has made the OS more universal across hardware, allowing OEMs to ‘recycle’ their Android phones by simply putting on Windows Phone instead.

While the move may sound desperate, it’s evidently paying off, as Microsoft did announce new Windows Phone hardware partners, including:

  • LG Electronics
  • Lenovo
  • Huawei
  • ZTE
  • Samsung
  • HTC
  • Karbonn
  • XOLO
  • Longcheer
  • Gionee
  • Foxconn

Nick Parker, corporate vice president of the OEM Division at Microsoft had this to say about the news:

“We are pleased to add these new partners to our expanding Windows Phone ecosystem. They will be key contributors to continued growth across price points and geographies for Windows Phone,”

Most of those companies are not familiar to Western markets, but combined with new Qualcomm chipset support for Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE, this will enable Windows Phone to dive into the low-end market in emerging countries like India and especially China.

Likewise, Dual SIM support in the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 update, due this spring, was also announced.

Windows Phone 8.1 was only referred to in passing as coming this spring, with more details being announced at a later date. One thing, though, is clear: Microsoft is taking their approach to Windows PCs and stretching it to Windows Phone. That will reduce barriers for OEMs and make it easy for companies to get on board without previous restrictions. 

Source: Microsoft Press (opens in new tab)

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Right now start making new Windows Phones gogogo !
  • Hahaha...looks like one of these new OEM will not bother with new hardware until next year
    why bother with these OEMs? They just don't care and there is 0 committing from them.
    where is SONY, anyway
  • Sony, having now sold their PC division, is no longer a partner with Microsoft in any industry that comes to mind. That may hinder the chances of them coming on board.
  • Yup no ps4 app on windows phone???? Why would I not get an Xbox smartglass is on everything!
  • Because it's overpriced and does a terrible job at playing videogames. Also no studios worth mentioning making exclusive content for it.
  • Dumb Xbox One is easily a better console over PS4, Exclusive games are better / Control Pad is better / Xbox Live is better and so on.
  • I lol'd at better controller (somehow they managed to make it worse instead of better than the 360 one) and exclusive games (Ryse and DR3 GOTY all years). Xbox Live works fine though, if you don't mind it undelivering compared to the competition.
  • Ha really PS4 control pads are actually falling apart already because of poor build quality, Exclusive games: TitanFall / Quantum Break / Sunset Overdrive / Fable Legends / Halo 5 / New Gears Of War / etc And funny how so far the XB1 exclusives got better ratings than PS4 exclusives. Yeah right you do realise that's the reason TitanFall never made it to PS4 because Sony does not have a equivalent to Microsoft Azure Dedicated Servers, PSN is like a old dinosaur in comparison LOL
  • Nice
  • If the Icon is launched in Australia, I will jizz in my pants
  • Where is SONY ?
  • Sony will be on the wagon, eventually..as for lenovo, we might also see motorola in the future.
  • Motorola....phonebloks!!
  • This
  • Sony, IF they come, they're most likely getting a special deal with Microsoft because of the Xbox/PS offerings that both companies have and that compete with each other. And no, the Vaio example isn't valid because Sony's mobile offerings aren't available for PC.
  • I'd pay premium for a WP8 without the all Xbox bloatware.
  • Xbox bloatware?
  • Someone really doesn't like xbox.. :p. Beside no one is forcing you to use the xbox services on your phone are they Rubios? :)
  • Carrier and google bloatware are probably the worst of the worst but Xbox? There's only Xbox music and Xbox games hub, two important and useful apps.
  • I sold my 360 in 2009 (no games), I won't be buying a Xbone unless Microsoft starts forming some decent studios (which I don't see happening) and I'm interested in exactly 0 smartphone games. Please tell me more about how important and useful the Xbox is for me.
  • Rubio you are correct, it is definitely not import and or useful to you. Your point is well taken. So, NOW CAN YOU GIVE IT REST.
  • Yes, unwanted software that I cannot get rid of a.k.a bloatware.
  • Two simple Xbox apps, come on! Many download games and also subscribe to Xbox music. They have value. They're part of the WP experience. Get yourself an Android phone and you can talk bloatware.
  • Just because Android and iOS are full of bloatware too doesn't mean I have to like it.
  • What I mean is, Android phones are full of bloatware that you can't even delete! And you're complaining about Xbox and Xbox music.
  • This guy is clearly a TROLL please go back to IGN articles that have xbox mentioned in them
  • You didn't write Nokia?
  • "New hardware partners"
  • HTC, Huawei, Samsung etc are still on there tho lol
  • "New partners", did we read the same article? :)
  • These partners already have hardware on the market, therefore, are not new either: Huawei ZTE Samsung HTC That's from the same article...
  • Nokia won't make them (WP devices) anymore. Their device unit was sold to Microsoft. Remember? :)
  • Microsoft can use Nokia's name on any new devices for about a year.
  • LG seems to be the only significant addition to that list. They made the last two nexus devices which are a nice piece of work. Wp8 on those would be nice.
  • Wrong. Microsoft can NOT use Nokia's name in any device that is not based on the S30 and S40 series (Asha). And since apparently the S30/S40 series will be replaced with Android, then Microsoft won't be able to use the branding at all.
  • That's wrong too. Microsoft is allowed to use the Nokia brand name on dumbphones, not on smartphones and therefor, not on Asha either.
  • I advise you to inform yourself better. The Asha line runs on the S40 series. Dumbphones run on the S30. As per the terms of the deal, Microsoft could therefore use the Nokia branding on dumb phones (S30) and Asha phones (S40), but NOT on Lumias.
  • Microsoft cannot use Nokia's name. They can only use the Lumia name.
  • I wouldn't mind using a phone that's called Microsoft Lumia (whatever number they'll release) as long they are made with quality like nokia does.
  • MS just bought Lumia Asha name alongside D&S division. The rest, not.
  • Check out the photo - "NOKIA" is on the slide...
  • OMG-G! This reminds me of WP7.
  • Now we are talking!
  • Yeah LG is back in the game.
  • About to say the same thing!
  • I still have a good opinion of m'y first WP7 device, a LG Optimus 7. It had 16go of Storage, Wile all others had only 8.
  • I have that phone still to. Only thing about it though was I broke the screen like 5 times. At least its easy to replace yourself lol! But I use my l920 now and love it. But id like to see new LG phones come to light esp. if they bring the ability to play to there bluray players.
  • I like the new direction keep it up :)
  • Great news
  • Surprised not to see Micromax in the list. Its one of those cheap phones that's doing really well in developing countires and has a decent market share. There were talks bwtween Micromax and MS couple of months back. Looks like it didn't work out well...
  • They had already announced they were releasing a WP.
  • Which developing countries? I don't see any here on Indonesia ^^a
  • For example India. Micromax does very well with sales.
  • Micromax have sale division limited to India as of now , they don't sell devices in other countries , and they already tweeted this way back in 2013 that they will release a windows phone 8.1 device
  • For example and the only example :)
    So it's not doing really well in developing countries. It just doing really well in India. Big difference with the kind of Huawei, ZTE and Oppo which DOES doing really well in developing countries :)
  • Micromax doesn't appear on our lovely country
  • I hate to be that guy but wouldn't it be better for Microsoft to take the Apple route. With Nokia in house and no hardware buttons removed, Nokia's team can build a pretty cheap and comparatively well made and good looking device (Lumia 520). Either way, good luck Microsoft, I want WP to gain market and mind share asap
  • They have basically been doing that through Nokia. This move is not to go after Apple, but to take on Android. There is a long way to go, but this is a great step.
  • Microsoft would tank trying to go the Apple route. Just look at the Surface sales. They've already been dinged for trying it. 
  • Neither Nokia nor Microsoft have the reach that some of these OEMs do, particularly in Asia, which is the largest market now.  To compete with Android, Microsoft needs to be competitive in Asia... and can't do it on its own.  It needs these OEMs onboard.
  • No.
  • Wow!  Well, at least we now know why Windows Phone 8.1 was so long in coming.  These are pretty big changes.
  • Glad to see more OEMs on Windows Phone :)
  • Where are the phones?
  • The list of new OEMs were announced only several hours ago and you already want the phones?!!
  • Look at the list again...
  • Front facing keys are now optional? What are they building, an accordion?
  • On screen keys... Similar to Windows 8... Also similar to Android.
  • To be honest I don't think I'd like that but that's just me
  • LOL
  • Now please give us a 1020 with Dual SIM and it will be that last phone I will ever buy! :)
  • I don't know how I feel about dual Sims and allowing WP to be slapped on any device. On one hand it's a great way to get the platform in the hands of the masses. But on the other hand I see a disaster. There are some pretty awful android devices out there and they want to just slap WP on it?
  • Without dual-sim you are essentially dead in large markets like India, China and Brazil. Regarding slapping WP on cheap devices, those cheap devices will still meet the minimum spec requirements like Qualcomm snapdragon chipsets, 512MB ram, 800x480 screen etc..   So, the only thing changed is many large asian OEM's can sell Windows phones based on Qualcomm reference device phone which you can see in today's liveblog as they won't have to tinker much and are getting basically a ready to market device in their hands.   For the OEM's who want to reuse their Android phone designs, Microsoft has made it easir like allowing virtual(On-screen) front buttons, no camera button, apps on SD cards etc..   these all led to the announcement of 9 new Windows phone OEM's which is necessary to make sure that windows phone doesn't die a slow death.
  • Dual SIM is awesome, having to use 2 phones or swapping cards is annoying. The whole SIM system seems pretty outdated to be honest.
  • I'm really excited to see Lenovo on that list. Though I love Nokia, and will probably be a Lumia owner for life, Lenovo builds some high quality products, and I think they're a great addition to the WP community.
  • Yeah. My friend has Lenovo device and it's looks sturdy and good enough. I'm sure their WP8.1 version will be at least as good as current Android ones.
  • Happy to see Lenovo, HTC and LG  on board but mostly Lenovo they have great phones
  • Love Lenovo going in the game with Moto as well... Sad to see Sony left out
  • true sony could have been a great windows phone partner
  • Hoping for a LG G2 with Windows Phone!
  • This
  • What happened to Sony??? I was hoping to see one.. :( :( 
  • They are on their way to bankruptcy court so they will be awhile.
  • LOL!
  • @daniel,
    where is micromax?
  • This is Great News (Welcome Aboard new OEM's), and just goes to show the doubters that Microsoft and Nokia and it's OEM Partner's are going to show everyone how to build a solid, great performing, secure, and future proof Platform thats here to stay for the forseeable future and I personally am looking foward to the innovation to come and groundbreaking software and hardware. Can't wait to talk to Cortana about this..:)
  • @daniel,
    where is micromax? Also Lenove is ther means we can assume now motorola-lenove wp8.1 devices.
  • Archos, Sony, Micromax and many other OEM's who are already planning for WP are probably Aimimg for announcements at the next major event maybe Build 2014..Come Join the party...we the undersigned are already onboard.... LG Electronics Lenovo Huawei ZTE Samsung HTC Karbonn XOLO Longcheer Gionee Foxconn Nokia   The Windows Phone Party is just getting started....
  • Micromax co-founder rahul sharma already told that they r working on wp devices.. so why mmx not include here.
  • maybe they hadn't confirmed it with Microsoft yet...or maybe there could be some more news soon..
  • This can be good to grow the platform, but the only thing that I see as a bad thing is that I can see these companies just taking last year's android phones and throwing WP on them without actually making any real innovations.
  • That's actually good business sense, why spend millions of dollars on a new phone design for a platform that may not make that money back.
  • And their hardware is very capable for WP 8.1
  • Android lags and stutters on the SD200 but not WP. So even on those old Android dual-core hardware, WP will work very well. In effect, these will be the cheap WP devices but performing better than cheap Androids on the very same hardware.
  • Since when is Foxconn an OEM with its own mobile division? I was under the impression that they were a chain of factories...
  • That goes the same with HTC before they using their own branding. At that time, we only knows HTC devices as Dopod, O2, Softbank and the likes.
    Maybe Foxxonn also want to taste what does it feel when they use their own branding?
  • I think they fall under a ODM....
  • Since Microsoft place the order for its plan B (surface phone) via foxcon. Funny how no one remembers they were rumored to be working with MS building surface phone. Big surprise coming soon : )
  • Lets see then. Maybe Foxconn is indeed moving beyond phone manufacturing but that will present a serious menace to their business because other OEMs will likely start canceling their contracts. Remember that Foxconn produces phones for Apple, Nokia, Motorola, BlackBerry, Sony and a ton of other OEMs. If they start to compete with them, then obviously those OEMs will go somewhere else. Its like Microsoft selling phones manufactures by Apple.
  • Yeah right? Foxconn is not in business to manufacture for a single company, putting all its eggs in one basket
  • Yeah right, like Apple will be moving away anytime soon when Foxconn is probably the only one who can handle Apple's volume. That goes for the other OEM too,
  • its nice to see LG back on board. I was a user of the LG eXpo and the LG Quantum back in the day.
  • Good to see that Microsoft is giving a lot of attention to the low end.   "High volume focus: * 4GB/512MB * softkeys * flexible hardware requirements * camera button optional"  
  • Sony? No? Sad face.
  • So which company will be first to make a dual-boot phone, WP and android? Either a Chi ese OEM or a big one like Nokia/Microsoft or Samsung. It would be hilarious to see the google robots support Microsoft - especially if only sold in a Microsoft Store! - by buying a dual-boot Nokia/Microsoft device.
  • Gonna be a busy week at WPCentral!
  • Good to see LG here. I hope Microsoft doesn't get things too out of hands like Android has in case of software updates.
  • Why does the Windows Phone OEM page also talk about building a Windows Phone device as an individual. https://dev.windowsphone.com/en-us/OEM/join
  • So Microsoft bought Nokia to turnaround and beg/bribe/grovel to OEMs. Nice one Microsoft. I'm keeping my eyes open for a 6in Phablet from LG or Lenovo. Since Nokia isn't making the 1520 happen on T-Mobile US.
  • I was eagerly looking for the Sony logo on that image... No such luck :(
  • Well, this may be hard to believe right now, but if they don't broaden their portfolio they will eventually be the odd man out as face time, works, and iTunes are not enough to stay relevant when the iPad, iPhone, and iPod sales start to flat line. They have been loosing market share to Android for years now. Look at Google, Microsoft, and even Nokias portfolios. Also look at the patents each of these companies hold. I am not hoping for Apple to fail or anything, I'm simply looking at the bigger picture over the long haul. Microsoft for example has office, windows azure, hyper-v, pixel sense(media devices for television broadcasting), medical software, automobile software, Xbox, etc and don't withhold their software from any platform; Apple should be taking a lesson from PC sales flattening and planning accordingly as Nokia and BlackBerry had money in the bank too; look at what happened to them. Please don't say it can't happen because it can and will eventually. Now everyone wants to be a services company Nokia, blackberry, Microsoft, Sony, etc. That market is even getting crowded. With facebooks recent acquisition of what's app and there users, if apple were to make face time and ichat apps available to other devices, it wouldn't stand a chance; iTunes wouldn't either as there are so many music streaming services now as well.
  • This is great news. More OEMs with more variety at a bunch of price points is exactly what MS needs. Lower license fees + more OEMs = profits! They needed LG back especially to start selling at the low end. Push out a prepaid LG and Samsung to go with the 520 and dominate Android.
  • And the fact that they don't even need to make new WP devices to make money (this makes sense because entry-level WPs are more popular than their Android counterparts). As soon as they make money, they will make new WP devices. It's a smart move really.
  • I really prefer buttons off the screen. But it will be good to give the option to manufacturers. There could have been an S4 WP variant, which I think would have done very well.
  • That's the ATIV S Neo. Haha
  • Um...No.  Ativ S Neo is an S3 variant.
  • The high-brow chinese manufacturers are joining in! Things are about to get competitive
  • Gooooooooooooo !
  • why am i not happy??? :( I don't want WP to become a low-end generic OS like android. Low-end manufacturer makes low-end experience, fragmentations. 2-4 powerful serious manufacturer should be better than having lots of incapable mass-producing ones, damaging WP's reputation like what's happening to android.
  • I am sure that Microsoft have tested the lowest configurations possible to be sure there is a consistent experience even on the very low end of the handset market, but also i would think that most of the OEM's will invest the extra time to create something special..but at the entry level there will be innovation too as it will eventually become really competetive...The OEM's that are joining now stand to make the biggest market share..
  • Microsoft is already prepare to curb fragmentation, this is why they released the developer preview app that allows users to update with carriers dragging ass
  • Low end will have all the experience of the high end. Then those who will be buying high end phones are getting jipped! How will high end phone differentiate from low end if experience is the same across the bored?
  • True in certain respects, but once they start allowing oems to mess with UI... It will go down hill pretty fast. Also those of us who prefer high end, will always be here and those who cant afford high end devices will go for the low end. The main points of differention would be the soc, screen, build quality and components used as these are all relative when it comes to "experience differentiation". Wireless display is the only tech, I see as the must have tech for this current gen (unless someone releases minority report tech condensed into phones). I can see miracast pushing high end phones unless qualcomm includes it in the low end socs. The other is Wireless charging unless you have these in public areas with high foot traffic i.e Stratford city - Westfield - (the food courts that is what they call it lol) the adoption rate will be slow. Not to sure on NFC and its uses in retail - you are still required to touch the device - so not really contactless.
  • I don't want WP to become a low-end generic OS like Android   News-Flash: This is already the case, 520 is saving WP8, not the high-end stuff.
  • I'll be happy when I can start flashing windows phone to pre-paid carriers for my customers...so far iPhone and android phones is all anyone can flash....
  • Such great news! When I read the title I was expecting Sony, though
  • Shoot! That blue oval company will still produce WP. Well hopefully a good sign of better support such as shorter gap of updates between regions.
  • Woohoo. More unknown brands to drive the momentum!
  • more "unknown brands" as you say to become very well known and Solidfy the Windows Phone Platform further..its good news
  • Don't trust it. Seen these pretty words from HTC and now they're on bed rest from the pounding they keep receiving from Android and Samsung. Still no HTC One with windows phone. Until I see action will I even take this serious.
  • Im happy to see Lg on board, here in my country they have started flooding the market with android phones, hopefully now Ill see more Wps out there.
  • What a about Sony? ;(
  • A Sony Windows Phone requires a special deal with Microsoft. Sony is indeed betting more on mobile (the sale of VAIO goes into that strategy). However, Sony is on Android and their phones have a plethora of Sony's own mobile offerings which include Sony Walkman (a music service), Sony's Videos (film service), PlayStation Mobile (games). These 3 services, as you probably have guessed, colide directly with Microsoft's Xbox's Music, Games and Video services. For Sony to produce a Windows Phone, Microsoft will have to allow them to remove, in their phones, the Xbox services and replace them with Sony's PlayStation services. You can therefore imagine that negotiations won't be that easy.
  • So many posters here are so fucking stupid.
  • wrong... :)
  • As long as no chipset maker other than Qualcomm makes the SoC for WP, I'll be happy.
  • NVIDIA is fine...
  • On desktops, laptops and oversized handheld consoles. Not so much in tablets and smartphones (unless you want a fan in them lol).
  • Talking about the Tegra series, such as the Tegra 4... Not the beefy PC GPUs.
  • Tegra 4 is mediocre without active cooling.
  • Is that an illustration of the reference design? That's Lumia 900 I believe judging from the speaker grill and ear phone cut out, lol.
  • Glad there are a lot, and LG is back, but WHERE IS SONY? I prefer Nokia, but I have friends who like Sony, and want a WP...
  • Google might have got them first... Also since Sony sold their pc line they no longer have any direct ties with MS as an OEM. I agree, a Sony wp will definitely win some over. I don't see Sony lasting too long with just android though.
  • I was hoping to see oppo on that list, an oppo find 5 running windows phone would be killer. I know for a fact i can shift hellova alot of those...as recommendations :p.. Don't have the capital to become a reseller lol.
  • This is definitely exciting.
  • Lovely, now the market may be flooded by regurgitated crap Android devices with an OS that almost nobody wants (at least, that's what people keep trying to tell me).  Yep, that's the way to do it.  Lower your standards, and you get exactly that.  Crap.  I see absolutely no incentive for OEMs to jump to Windows Phone, and no compelling reason for people to jump to Windows Phone from Android counterparts.  Someone, anyone, please try to make the case and change my mind on this.  At this point, I don't see it.
  • I only see names of partners old and new but hardly any wp devices since wp8.
  • I wonder if any of these OEMs will finally create a WP with a slideout keyboard?
  • Wow!!! They finally got Samsung into WP partner list :-P :-P
  • Would be really nice if someone (including Microsoft) would take the reference sample and build mods that can be flashed unto any phone that will take CyanogenMod. That would give users a choice without having to wait on the manufactures and carriers and insure that upgrades would always be availble.