For years, Microsoft remained adamant about its licensing fees for Windows Phone: if a smartphone manufacturer wanted to include the software on its devices, it would need to pay Microsoft a certain amount per unit.
That was a logical strategy for Microsoft, which became a very big company thanks to licensing fees for Windows and other platforms. Unlike some of those other products, however, Windows Phone has struggled for adoption in its marketplace, which is dominated by Apple and Google. In response, suggests the Times of India, Microsoft may have dumped licensing fees for two Indian smartphone makers, Karbonn and Lava (Xolo). (Hat tip to The Verge for the link.)
Microsoft’s biggest rival, Google, gives its Android mobile operating system away for free, a maneuver that helped it gain spectacular market-share in a relatively short amount of time. If Microsoft pursues a similar strategy in different markets, it could encourage more smartphone manufacturers to produce Windows Phone devices, which could increase the platform’s market-share—but there are no guarantees that scenario will actually play out. The smartphone market is increasingly saturated, and Microsoft’s opponents have no intention of allowing Windows Phone to gain any ground.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is working on Windows Phone 8.1, which will reportedly feature the long-rumored Cortana digital assistant. Cortana’s behavior could mimic that of Apple’s Siri or Google Now, scheduling appointments and answering queries about the weather or the user’s daily schedule. (The name “Cortana” is a hat-tip to the digital assistant in the Halo games, who often appears as a blue lady.) In addition, Windows Phone 8.1 will feature Internet Explorer 11, the ability to “swipe” the keyboard in lieu of typing, and centralized notification management.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility that some smartphone manufacturers could soon get Windows Phone 8.1 for free.