Rumor: Microsoft mulling free Windows RT and Windows Phone versions to OEMs

Microsoft is rumored to be at least thinking about giving away Windows RT and Windows Phone to OEMs for use in their upcoming tablets and smartphones. The plan may be part of a larger effort to boost Windows in general under Microsoft's new operating systems leader Terry Myerson with its "Threshold" plans.

The Verge reports, via unnamed sources, that while nothing has been finalized yet, Microsoft could offer the latest versions of Windows RT and Windows Phone to device companies for free in time for the Threshold updates to both operating systems. Those updates are rumored to be released as early as fall 2014 but could also be launched in the spring of 2015.

These rumored plans are being made even as Microsoft prepares to acquire Nokia's Devices and Services business by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Nokia already sells the vast majority of Windows Phone devices and is currently the only third party company to sell a Windows RT tablet, the Lumia 2520. Offering both operating systems for free to third party device makers would, in theory, encourage more tablets and smartphones to use Microsoft's Windows platform and hopefully give the company a better chance at competing with Google and its dominant Android OS.

Source: The Verge | Image via Nokia

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neonspark said,

late to the party? you assume the party is over? It's like saying the party was over when IOS attained 70% market, or when RIM owned the mobile market. No sir, the party is not over, another song is just about to play

it seems you really fear free windows which OEMs would absolutely love to just bundle with everything. hear that? it's the sound of disruptive change coming. and it is a sweet song.

I have not assumed its over, late means late. MS's business model is that OEM's pay for the OS, it's a huge change and I don't think that MS can pull free off in a way that gets market share and is good for the Microsoft bottom line. Disruptive change happens all around Microsoft and they are very slow to act, possibly too slow to make the difference they are looking for. It's too late for Windows Phone to be an Android. If people liked Windows Phone it would already be selling well and it's not. I can't see a bit of a price change making a huge difference.

worldwide windows phone is the fastest growing mobile OS, coming very close to ios marketshare in quite a few countires, over 10% marketshare in the top 5 European countries, so I don't think you understand what is really going on or you are just the normal dumb American that thinks that's all there is to the world. so think about this, fastest growing mobile os going free to oems, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see what will happen.

People are buying cheap windows phones because they are cheap, it's simple. If windows phones were selling for the right reasons and creating profits then you can guarantee that all OEM's would have a top selling flagship Windows Phone.

Do a tiered pricing. ie first 1 mil costs $$$ but after 1 mil, the prices drops to near zero. This would incentivize manufacturers to produce a lot of RT/WP devices. Flood the market with a various devices from the low to high end markets. MS can make money off of the services/apps once market shares increase. Keep Surface and some Lumia devices as niche, high end products.

recursive said,
Or they could simply go with Android which costs next to nothing from 0 to start with.

and pay patent royalties to MSFT which cost not next to nothing...

android is very expensive to start from scratch for engineering and design, the os itself is free but patent costs are not, windows phone os going free the same as android with no added patent cost for oems to pay, so again you might see where this will go.

It will still NOT guarantee a sudden increase in market share. MS is in a pickle because developers are waiting for market share, and consumers will not buy WP devices because they don't have the apps that they need (I'm not talking about the top 50 apps).

Emerging market and new users are helping MS with the numbers, but it is too slow of a growth. MS must find a better way to entice users to jump ship current their ecosystem, and regular consumers are not that easy to sway considering they've invested time and money to their current ecosystem.

This is the result of MS dragging their asses and coming late in the game, and not having the vision to see where the technology was heading.

The first iPhone or Android had very few apps, still people bought it. The fact that no one wants to buy it says a lot about the product itself (RT / Win 8). Lack of apps has very little to do with lack of consumer interest in Microsoft's mobile offerings.

RommelS said,
It will still NOT guarantee a sudden increase in market share. MS is in a pickle because developers are waiting for market share, and consumers will not buy WP devices because they don't have the apps that they need (I'm not talking about the top 50 apps).

Emerging market and new users are helping MS with the numbers, but it is too slow of a growth. MS must find a better way to entice users to jump ship current their ecosystem, and regular consumers are not that easy to sway considering they've invested time and money to their current ecosystem.

This is the result of MS dragging their asses and coming late in the game, and not having the vision to see where the technology was heading.

look at it this way: whatever marketshare they have, it will only get larger with this move. you an debate how much all you want, but the fact remains this is a good move for MSFT and a bad news for everybody competing with them for they can no longer point to cost as an advantage, and in the thin margins of mobile, this is a BIG factor and the ONLY reason android ever made it.

recursive said,
The first iPhone or Android had very few apps, still people bought it. The fact that no one wants to buy it says a lot about the product itself (RT / Win 8). Lack of apps has very little to do with lack of consumer interest in Microsoft's mobile offerings.

The difference there was there were the first two devices that provided that service, and it took MS a long time to come out with their own. By the time MS released WP and Windows 8, both iOS and Android ware already well established, and developers and consumers are very much entrench with both ecosystem.

...and the biggest part of the ecosystem is the apps.

Another thing, if WP ecosystem does have the same apps, then MS must find a way to make a deal with developers to allow consumers to install the same app for free, but consumer must provide proof of purchase.

I've seen enough consumers out there that they want to leave their ecosystem because they don't want to repurchase the same app if they jump - thus they are sticking to their current ecosystem.

neonspark said,

look at it this way: whatever marketshare they have, it will only get larger with this move. you an debate how much all you want, but the fact remains this is a good move for MSFT and a bad news for everybody competing with them for they can no longer point to cost as an advantage, and in the thin margins of mobile, this is a BIG factor and the ONLY reason android ever made it.

Neon, first of, I did not say that it will not increase? What I said that it is not a guaranteed sudden increase. Why? Because I included what else MS has do deal with - developers and consumers, which you failed to factor in. (see my response to recursive above)

Second, if true, yeah, it is great news for OEMs. But ask yourself this, would the number of device made equal to the number of usage if the ecosystem is not as lively as iOS and Android? Developers are still holding out, and without the apps, the consumers will not be there.

You see, I am Windows Phone fan, Surface fan, basically a huge MS fan, but I am not blinded to their mistakes, and I am not afraid to call them out on it.

Lately I'm baffled at the lack of respect and professionalism in sites like Neowin or The Verge. This whole "WP & RT might be free" information does NOT originally come from The Verge: their article was published on December 11th at 8.06AM. It was Paul Thurrott who shared this tip first on December 10th (you can check for yourself: http://windowsitpro.com/window...-windows-big-changes-coming).

The fact that The Verge doesn't mention Thurrott once and treats this info as its own is shameless. The fact that Neowin doesn't even bother to fact-check with the most well known MS commentator is equally embarrassing. And yes, I'm sure The Verge would quote "sources" they have, conveniently 1 day after Thurrott divulged the info first. Those "sources" are Thurrott and they don't even have the decency to credit him for it. It's disgusting.

I'm further and further disappointed with today's tech so-called press. This is not press. This is opportunist aficionado work.

It might come as a shock, but the source at Microsoft could have talked to more than once news source... Unlike you, the news writers don't read every single tech blog all day every day so they could easily miss it if the source talked to multiple venues.

Are you serious? I don't spend all day reading this stuff, I check before and after going to work. The fact that you're implying that news writers should read less than I do blows my mind. Isn't that their job? To find information? To fact-check?

And how convenient is it that Thurrott's story came out on the 10th, The Verge's today on the 11th at 8AM and Neowin's at 1pm? If Neowin is following news, they better follow who The Verge steal from time and time again.

The problem is people like you, the modern audience, accustomed to blogs. You will accept any piece of information without regard for the professional quality of it. To say it is a disheartening reality is putting it mildly. Try something like this at a publishing company and you will get fired and possibly get legal consequences for it.

I'm not implying that news authors shouldn't read. My point is that just because the site you saw break the news first wasn't given credit doesn't imply that someone plagiarized either. It is quite possible that they have the same source of information that wasn't each other.

I don't tend to depend on blogs for my news. I usually read more traditional newspapers like the WSJ for it actually.

It's not a "site". If you want to follow news and rumors on Microsoft, there's literally 2 main people you go to: Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley. Nobody has the access to MS they have. Hence why it's so obvious where The Verge is getting their info when they don't credit. It's happened before in very obvious occasions.

I find it hilarious how most of the commenters act like they are business professionals that know everything there is about business decisions.

It may be an interesting idea to make it free, but it would take a bit hit to Microsoft without monetizing certain components/services. To be honest, they shouldn't need to many OEMs anyway as it slows down the development process, but their partnership with the OEMs is what has helped all those companies Microsoft included succeed. Let's see where this goes.

j2006 said,
I find it hilarious how most of the commenters act like they are business professionals that know everything there is about business decisions.

It may be an interesting idea to make it free, but it would take a bit hit to Microsoft without monetizing certain components/services. To be honest, they shouldn't need to many OEMs anyway as it slows down the development process, but their partnership with the OEMs is what has helped all those companies Microsoft included succeed. Let's see where this goes.

Actually you do not need a MBA to realize that the financial effect would be limited: Nokia is by far the biggest WP OEM and soon MS will own it; RT is not so popular, to put it mildly, again MS and Nokia therefore the previous considerations apply as well.
For example: if the OS is given for free obviously Office would not longer, at least for Tablets, be part of the standard, included software; If MS would boost sales by just a 10% and then sell Office 365 subscription the additional revenues, and profits, would easily overcome the losses.

recursive said,
Since nobody seems to be interested in paying for it, it guess it is the only thing left for them to do.

windows revenues (server and client) were record high this year. your definition of nobody seems funny. 1.5 billion users of windows have paid for it. And windows 7+8 still outselling android tablets and ipads combined. giving it away as a Trojan horse is brilliant for they can easily go from 1.5 to 3.0 billion all using MSFT services generation much more money than a flat 4-5 year license can.

Ironically, this is the kind of behavior that got them in trouble with Internet Explorer. It's odd to see Microsoft on the underdog side of things, though.

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