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Microsoft to Offer Windows Phone OS as Free Software to Handset Vendors

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Microsoft is taking steps to try and encourage more handset manufacturers to support its Windows Phone OS, by giving it away for free.

The company has already previously suggested that it is flexible on pricing for the software, but at the keynote announcement for the latest WP 8.1 update, it also confirmed that it would make the OS available free of charge to handset manufacturers.

That brings the cost to the handset vendor in line with the Android OS, although as a proprietary software, it is not being offered for free for anyone to just download and play with.

"To drive adoption of your applications and get your applications out there for more customers, on phones and tablets with screen sizes less than nine inches, we are making Windows available now for zero dollars," said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of operating systems at Microsoft.

The move is also a key shift for the company culture which has always charged for the core software services that it develops.

The reduction of the OS cost to zero should help reduce the headline prices of WP based smartphones, particularly at the low to middle end of the market, where Android is dominant.

The remaining issue is whether handset vendors will be willing to support an OS when increased popularity may help indirectly boost sales of Nokia phones.

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Tags: microsoft  windows phone