It’s hard to compete with free. Google currently dominates the smartphone space by giving away its Android operating system for free to anyone that wants to install it. If Google makes money from Android, it’s largely due to revenue from apps sold in the Play Store and the increased use of Google services by Android customers.

So maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Microsoft is considering giving away Windows Phone and Windows RT software for free to device makers that want to use it. But it still kind of is… because Microsoft has historically made a huge chunk of its money by licensing operating systems.

Still, the world has changed since Bill Gates started working on DOS, and The Verge reports that Microsoft is seriously considering offering free versions of its software. The move could help Microsoft gain market share, and it could theoretically then make up for lost revenue with in-app ads, subscription services, and revenue from apps sold in the Windows Store.

Nokia Lumia 820 and 920

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14 replies on “Lilbits (12-11-2013): Setting Windows Phone, RT free (for device makers)”

  1. Microsoft shouldn’t make WP and RT license fee free until after they either merge the two OSs or drop one. No better way to burn a bridge than luring people in, only to leave them hanging shortly after.

  2. They should also rename windows phone. Call it xbox phone or something that doesn’t include the words “windows” or “microsoft” and people might actually consider it.

  3. The Mainreason Microsoft is concidering this Move is the Fact that Nokia is currently representing far in excess of 80% of the Windows Phone Market, and there is little Point in paying License Fees to themselves once the Aquisition of Nokias Hardware Business is done.

    1. Well, great point right there!
      Good marketing from MS – telling public they are considering giving away something for free while in reality its just a logical thing to do.
      I wonder, however, if this will mean cheaper Windows phones?

      1. Don’t expect cheaper Nokia Devices, but if Chinese manufactures jump on board, which they certainly would, then you will see incredibly cheap (In price and quality) Windows phones and RT devices.

  4. This would be a very smart move on Microsoft’s part. Realistically this is knocking $25 off many phones – and if you take into account he manufacturers that pay royalties to Microsoft they will probably see that as a chance to have $25 profit.
    I quite like Windows Phone (though, I wish they’d hurry up and help Pebble work). I am so sick of the direction Android is headed.

  5. I’d jump on RT if it was Windows 8 that just so happens to run on an ARM device. I don’t mind losing compatibility with non-Windows 8 software but it would be great to run Windows 8 targeted desktop apps on ARM. This would at least be possible for C# and .NET targeted programs since they’re not compiled to machine code but to managed code.

  6. I hope this means we can stop seeing windows phones with locked bootloaders… one can dream right?

  7. I suspect Microsoft is just scrambling desperately as their candle flickers out.

  8. If the Microsoft toll on Android devices is not significant (for example,
    if it’s $20 per device or less), offering Win Phone or Win RT for free is
    likely not going to make much of a difference in market shares.

    The toll may even be reduced or eliminated depending on what’s
    going on in the EU. If the EU throws out the toll, Microsoft may
    even have to drop the price of x86 Windows licensing.

    Reducing x86 Windows licensing fees is going to have a bigger
    impact than making Phone or RT free. However, even this step

    might not change things much as the public is used to

    instant-on, quick launching lightweight apps in mobile,

    vs bloated programs or the cumbersome OS that
    x86 Windows offers.

    1. “vs bloated programs or the cumbersome OS that
      x86 Windows offers.”

      which I as a gamer unfortunately have to bear…

  9. I wish someone would figure out how to install rt on nexus 7. I would try it out in a heartbeat.

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