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Microsoft Dumping License Fees For Windows Phone? 125

Posted by timothy
from the as-price-approaches-zero dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "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). 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."
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Microsoft Dumping License Fees For Windows Phone?

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  • from MS' perspective, you are the product?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fustakrakich (1673220)

      No, it means Microsoft shareholders should buy some Google stock...

      • Re:Does this mean (Score:5, Interesting)

        by turgid (580780) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:36PM (#46476847) Journal

        No, it means Microsoft shareholders should buy some Google stock...

        But Microsoft collect a "license fee" from all the major Android phone vendors for "patents" used in the Linux kernel.

        I wonder what the various national courts around the world will make of this... giving your own OS away for free while running an extortion racket for protection money from your competitors?

        • by symbolset (646467) *
          If the US Supreme Court rules software patents invalid, that will be the end of that.
        • I wonder what the various national courts around the world will make of this... giving your own OS away for free while running an extortion racket for protection money from your competitors?

          I used to think the same, but I've mellowed a bit after detaching my emotions and looking at it logically. Presumably Microsoft gets money from Samsung per Android phone sold. I'm pretty sure Samsung wouldn't just pay Microsoft without at least first checking to see if there's any validity in the patent claims. The fact

          • This is Slashdot, leave your "logic" at the door.

            • Heh. I suspect just I keep falling for the fallacy that since there's so many Linux users around here, and using Linux is supposed to mean a higher level of intelligence and hence a higher aptitude for reason and logic, that logic would be more evident.

              I guess everyone's susceptible to thinking from the heart rather than the head though.

          • by turgid (580780)

            I'm pretty sure Samsung wouldn't just pay Microsoft without at least first checking to see if there's any validity in the patent claims.

            I guess you don't follow the news too closely, then.

            The patent claims are hogwash. Microsoft tried deliberately to keep the patent claims secret and/or vague (in contravention to the spirit and word of the law) in order to intimidate companies into paying up.

            They've tried every dirty trick in the book to prolong legal action to keep the extortion racket going.

            The FOSS com

        • But Microsoft collect a "license fee" from all the major Android phone vendors for "patents" used in the Linux kernel.

          Well then, Google shareholders and maybe Linus should buy and flip some Microsoft stock.. Try to get that money back. It seems that's how this little game is played. Like car dealers moving their inventory from lot to lot, or out of state to evade taxes. I mean license fees are a deductible business expense, right? Money goes to Microsoft for a while and it comes back through other venues.

      • Re:Does this mean (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LordThyGod (1465887) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:33PM (#46477543)

        No, it means Microsoft shareholders should buy some Google stock...

        It actually means Ballmer has left the building, and reality is staring them in the face. They've spent too much time fucking themselves. And now it don't feel so good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285)

      I doubt it. I think it's just a temporary measure so that they can get some market share and then start charging again.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      No. It means that Microsoft still does not understand what the word free really means.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by davester666 (731373)

      it means that even when a salesman was in charge, they couldn't figure out how to sell their completely revamped product into a market with several mature competitors.

      they are down to trying to be the low-cost competitor by dumping their OS for free, while still demanding royalties for one of their competitors os's [android].

    • This means , might as well get into the smartphone hardware business.. Micro$fot might as well pay you $150 per phone .. To run windoze phone on it . This is called reverse licensing :-)
  • by EndlessNameless (673105) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:05PM (#46476479)

    If they get a cut of all the app purchases, this is an obvious win-win. Manufacturers get cheaper devices to the market, and Microsoft increase its user base.

    I can't speak for everyone, but I have spent more on apps than the price of my phone over its lifetime. (The unsubsidized price, at that.)

    • by lgw (121541)

      It does make a lot of sense. Windows phone outsells iPhone in the more price-sensitive areas of Europe, but hasn't seen the same traction in Asia. Getting app parity is a different story, of course, but MS did finally get the big commercial shops onboard. Now it just needs to be easy for the hobbyist to write apps, as it is for Android.

      I really wish MS would step up and officially support C# on Android, and cross-platform dev in VS (third parties actually sell this today, c'mon MS). Anything I wrote at

    • Because Microsoft aping competitors' tactics years behind them has worked so well of late.

    • You must have a shitty phone. There's not that many apps worth purchasing.
  • How about phone makers make generic hardware, like PC makers do? Then we can just install the OS of our choice on it.

    • I don't think Vodafone, AT&T, T-Mobile, or any other carrier would like that very much.

      • I don't think they get a say in the matter if consumers buy their own phones.

        • by nojayuk (567177)

          That's great, consumers buy their own phones with their own OS on them. Who are the consumers going to call if none of the network providers will handshake with their RMS-OS phone? The network providers might well claim that unless the radio and network connection stacks are well-tested and not likely to cripple their towers by DDoSing them then they don't get to play in their sandbox and for that the stacks have to be "blobs" under their control.

          • by jon3k (691256)
            Ever since the tethering settlement the open access rules require Verizon to allow any device on their network (the 700Mhz LTE block that is).
        • I'm sure the carriers are quaking in their boots for this to happen.

          carrier sales completely dominate the industry vs direct consumer sales of phones. Probably by at least 2 orders of magnitude.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          They do. They can block your IMEI number, for one thing. For another, they can lean pretty hard on manufacturers who hope to sell phones in their stores.

    • No, because phone makers don't sell phones to us, they sell phones to the cell phone networks. And the cell phone networks don't want you to have control over your hardware. That's why you don't get root unless you crack the phone's security and force it to give you root.

      • I didn't buy my phone from a network operator. Unlocking the boot loader and rooting it is covered in the documentation.

        • Because of the discounts offered by the networks (in exchange for locking you into a contract), you are a very small minority. The market for directly bought phones is very small and no cell phone maker is willing to put effort into it.

          • Because of the discounts offered by the networks (in exchange for locking you into a contract), you are a very small minority.

            These discounts for not bringing your own device are on their way out. Instead, the U.S. model has begun to shift toward the European model where the phone and plan are itemized as separate purchases. Instead of $20 per month subsidy spread over 24 months of a $70 per month contract, there's a $20 line item for the financed hardware and a $50 line item for the service. MVNOs were first to bring this model to the States, followed by T-Mobile, and three months ago even AT&T cut the price for BYOD and expi [att.com]

      • No, because phone makers don't sell phones to us, they sell phones to the cell phone networks. And the cell phone networks don't want you to have control over your hardware. That's why you don't get root unless you crack the phone's security and force it to give you root.

        Really? I bought my phone off my office mate. My last phone I got from a shop. All on the same sim-only contract.

    • by exomondo (1725132)
      Yeah awesome, I'm sure everybody would love chasing up drivers for all their hardware for the specific version of their particular OS of choice.
      • Well back when Symbian was king and before Kickstarter, there was a phone platform for tinkerers - Neo 1973/Freerunner.

        Suffice to say it died. A main reason was software - few people wanted to pay for a half-finished platform. Today, numerous alternatives exist to windows phone and iOS. e.g. Android, Sailfish, Tizen, Firefox OS.

        So a feasible crowd-funded project might be to hire, full time, a few kernel hackers to write blob replacements for replicant and integrate the free GPU efforts of rpi/lima/freedreno

  • Is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:06PM (#46476491)

    Considering that Microsoft charges money for Android (anybody using Android has to pay Microsoft for patents), can they really get away with giving away Windows Phone for free?

    • Yes, it's legal and yes they can get away with it. There's no law, that I know of, titled "The fishy sounding business practices law".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When the Microsoft haters defend the old anti-monopoly lawsuit, they insist that regardless of the social effect of one company giving away a web browser for free, it was an abuse of an existing monopoly because they had most of the consumer PC market buying Windows. When challenged with comparisons to iOS doing exactly the same frelling thing (but on a cell phone), they argue that Apple lacks the 90% market share to qualify as a monopoly, and thus can get away with anything.

      Since one of the favored memes

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Sure. And they are free to integrate Bing, Bing maps, Office, Outlook.com and the kitchen sink. Good luck with that.
    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Considering that Microsoft charges money for Android ...can they really get away with giving away Windows Phone for free?"

      Come on, after all we're talking about 2 phones or so.

  • Microsoft open-sources it's code and goes to a support model of doing business.

    The tides stop.

    Republicans and Democrats dance together in the streets.

    • by Amtrak (2430376)
      Does this mean that the cubs can finally win a world series and the lions a super bowl in the same year! GASP!
  • Seriously, that's the source? They are like the Fox News of India.

  • by fermion (181285) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:18PM (#46476643) Homepage Journal
    Android right now has up to 80% of the world marketshare. MS has 5%. The number of phones MS sells is insignificant. They could afford to give them away for free if they wanted to build marketshare. It probably costs more to manage the Licensing program that the program collects in fees. At this point, the fees is purely a philosophical endeavor for MS. Cutting them to build market share makes sense, but it probably is not going to encourage others to start making MS phones. Nothing they have done in the past has worked.

    In any case, remember that Samsung, which is what most people buy when they buy an android phone, pays MS $10-20 per phone. This is clearly where MS future lies, collecting patent fees. The only reason that it needs to have a phone is so it is not labeled as patent troll.

    • Yes, a paltry 5% of the one billion [gartner.com] cell phones sold in 2013.

      5% of 1B...let's see...carry the knot...I make it a truly pathetic 50,000,000 units sold. Insignificant indeed. Especially when you compare it to the gargantuan sales [zdnet.com] of personal computers in 2013 (82M units). No comparison at all.

      My last three laptops cost about $300 each. Last cell phone (Nexus 5) cost $400. No comparison there either.
  • What MS WP could give customers that Apple iOS and Google Android cant? I'm seriously doubt that MS will obtain some impressive share of market in the near future.
    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      Great performance on lesser hardware. Windows Phone is more responsive on comparable hardware than Android or iOS. If it's free to license, I think you'll see Windows Phone make a good run at the lower-end phone market......it already does fairly well there in Europe, we'll see what this does for their position in India.

      • Great performance on lesser hardware. Windows Phone is more responsive on comparable hardware than Android or iOS. If it's free to license, I think you'll see Windows Phone make a good run at the lower-end phone market......it already does fairly well there in Europe, we'll see what this does for their position in India.

        Yea, but a lot of people have tried MS products. Why would they then buy a phone from them when there is low cost options?

        • a lot of people have tried MS products. Why would they then buy a phone from them when there is low cost options?

          Probably for much the same reason that people who don't especially like Windows and Office bought an Xbox. If the new touch-controlled Halo game is exclusive to Windows, watch fanboys switch to this so-called Xboy.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        So great on lower hardware that even Nokia is going Android to lower their BOM costs and get some emerging markets business.
  • Put together a large team that targets Android phones, particularly lower end phones with no support, and make Windows Phone perpetually free along the same lines as the good custom Android distributions. If they made a serious effort to get Windows Phone working as a solid, stable, fast OS on such phones and made really slick installers, they'd probably see a sharp increase in marketshare within a year. Not even 10%, but enough to cause concern at Google. The best part is that if they were to just stick to

  • by kannibal_klown (531544) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:22PM (#46476683)

    I have to admit, I like the UI on the Windows 8 phones. While Windows 8 doesn't exactly translate well on the desktop... it works fine on the phone as far as I could see. It's at least drawn nicely and has a different design than iOS and Android.

    Unfortunately there are just too few apps available. I went to their app store and only a small handful of my apps had a presence there... and Google's stuff was all third-party wrappers to offer some Google stuff. Honestly, that was enough to turn me off.

    I guess it's circular... people won't want it if the app selection stinks, but the devs won't make apps because it's not popular.

    Note: I got an Android instead.

  • It ain't the price (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:23PM (#46476699) Homepage

    It's the crappy software. Free isn't cheap enough, especially when you're 5 years too late to the party and a million apps behind.

    • Totally agree.
    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Agree. And then there is the integrated Bing, Outlook.com, inferior maps, and all the other "goodies" that aren't as good as the Google services you get on a $50 PAYGO Android phone.
      • Agree. And then there is the integrated Bing, Outlook.com, inferior maps, and all the other "goodies" that aren't as good as the Google services you get on a $50 PAYGO Android phone.

        Just wondering if I could plug it into my Linux desktop, and copy files to/from easily or do I have to play for MS crapware to fully use. Just wondering, don't know, but that's part of the appeal for android for me, its pretty platform neutral. Including development tools.

        • It has many deficiencies, but MAPS? At least on the Nokia phones is by far the best out there. Bing? Yeah, I'll give you that, but half the point of WP8 is to drive Bing traffic.
        • by Chewy509 (1178715)

          Just wondering if I could plug it into my Linux desktop, and copy files to/from easily or do I have to play for MS crapware to fully use.

          IIRC, the Windows Phone MTP stack works really well with libmtp (the main MTP client stack in FOSS land), so for any modern distro it should be plug-n-play... (providing it uses a modern version of go-mtpfs, gMTP, gvfs-mtp or kio-mtp).
          I personally have an Android phone (HTC Desire X), so can't provide first hand experience with WP and Linux, but the libmtp mailing list/

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            Good to know, thanks! WP7 used MTPZ (Zune-extended/encrypted MTP) and was very Linux-unfriendly, but WP8 appears to use bog-standard MTP. I hadn't tried it on Linux yet but am not surprised that it's reported to work well.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        My iPhone came with Apple maps yet I use Google maps, I don't use an iCloud email and the default search engine just happens to already be Google, but I can change that.

        So you do realise that just because something is the default doesn't mean you have to use it don't you? There is a simple browser setting [themobimag.com] to change the default search from bing to google. You also don't have to use Outlook.com just like on Android how you don't have to use Gmail. And you can use Google Maps through the website or through an

    • by xvan (2935999)
      Wasn't that the same thing people said when google launched the marketplace?
  • At the moment most of the really useful apps are Nokia's, and mostly only available on their handsets. The basic OS without these does not compare well with Android/iOS. It will be interesting to see if with the acquisition, MS makes these apps core, either for regularly licenced copies ir these free ones. I have a high-end Lumia925, more or less iPhone quality, and a Lumia520, which for less than £100 SIM free, is almost as good. WP8 really does run well on very cheap hardware.
  • Instead of giving away WIndows, they should probably give royalty free apps store access to any entity for the first two years.
    That will probably draw developers faster then dfoubling or even tripling a nonexistent base. Especially the young hungry ones which should become established developers over time.

  • by MasterOfGoingFaster (922862) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:42PM (#46478245) Homepage

    As a Android user (Nexus 4) and a former iPhone owner, I'm not so sure the OS is the real problem.

    When I used the iPhone, it was very obvious that I was outside the Apple ecosystem. ITunes on Windows sucks, and I could tell that Apple's goal was to push me away from Windows and join the Apple world, where things "just work".

    Now that I've moved to Android, it is clear that Google wants all my systems to work together, regardless of what it is or who it came from. My files stay synced between all my PCs, laptops, tablet, phone and even my old iPhone (now being used as an iPod). This is the killer app for me. Both Apple and Microsoft want their stuff to work better if you stick with their products. Google changed that game.

    Sorry Microsoft. Even if you fix the OS so it's the best, and give it away free, I'm still not interested. As Sun used to say, "The network is the computer", and Google gets that - while Apple and Microsoft want to build a walled garden. If Adobe and Solidworks ever offer a Linux version, I'm gone.

  • Honestly, Microsoft... why not just build some really nice Android apps and call it a day? NIH is a sickness.

  • In response, suggests the Times of India, Microsoft may have dumped licensing fees for two Indian smartphone makers, Karbonn and Lava (Xolo)

    What the hell does Lava(Xolo) mean?
    Lava and Xolo are different companies. The article doesn't mention Xolo.

  • by Antony T Curtis (89990) on Friday March 14, 2014 @01:00AM (#46480113) Homepage Journal

    If Microsoft is really playing serious to make people switch to Windows Phone, they will have to somehow make syncing contacts, emails and calendars between Windows PC and Apple/Android not work as well as with Windows Phone.

    It would likely open themselves up to anti-trust suits but they already know how to handle that.

  • by dimko (1166489)
    and most manufacturers and user would take it for free...
  • Microsoft has always tried to position their phones and tablets as "premium" devices, selling for more than comparable competitors. That's really hard to do when you are the disruptor, trying to break into an established marketplace. Google played the game right, coming into a smartphone marketplace that was dominated by iPhone, as a lower cost option that was "just as good." Over time, Android earned the respect of the marketplace, and eventually they gained dominance.

    Microsoft devices were, from the be

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