While Microsoft Corp. has put a lot of efforts into promotion of its operating systems for mobile devices – Windows Phone and Windows RT – neither of them has truly become popular globally. In a bid to finally become a viable player on the market of smartphones and tablets, Microsoft is reportedly mulling to make appropriate platforms free for device makers and thus make devices more affordable to the end-users.
Sources familiar with Microsoft’s internal affairs have rreportedly evealed that free-of-charge future versions are under serious consideration by the new OS chief Terry Myerson. While the plans for 2014 are already set, the free versions of Windows RT and Windows Phone are expected with the code-named “Threshold“ generation due in 2015, reports The Verge. The company intends to compensate lost revenue streams with revenue from apps and services. The plans have not been finalized and can easily change.
While Microsoft has never confirmed the plan to make Windows Phone and Windows RT free, there are a lot of rationalities in such a potential move. The key factors that call to make the mobile operating systems free are Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia as well as Windows RT’s failure to gain populairty among end-users.
Microsoft is about to gain Nokia’s devices and services business along with Lumia product line and hence become the world’s largest supplier of Windows Phone-based handsets with the world’s broadest family of WP-powered products. Such position greatly undermines any third party’s wish to license Windows Phone since eventually their device ends up competing against Microsoft itself and when it comes down to the price, Microsoft should always win since it owns the OS. At present hardware makers are simply afraid of competition from Microsoft on the handset market, which makes them invest more into the devices featuring Google Android. By making the OS free, the software giant just removes at least some of hardware makers’ fears.
Although just a few PC makers adopted Windows RT for media tablets initially in 2012, all of them were quick to EOL [end-of-life] their products due to tepid welcome by the market, which was conditioned by incompatibility of Windows RT with traditional Windows apps developed for x86 microprocessors. Besides, all of the makers have clearly faced pressure from Microsoft’s own Surface RT tablet. But without having to pay for the OS, why not give Windows RT another chance?
By making Windows Phone and Windows RT free to device manufacturers, Microsoft will ensure that the platforms will not become its proprietary operating systems, which, given their low share, means stagnation. Besides, it may hope that certain manufacturers will release dual-boot devices with Windows and Android.
Microsoft did not comment on the news-story.