With Windows Phone still falling short of success in any mobile market, caught out by strong competition from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, Microsoft has announced it is abolishing the license fee for the phone operating system and giving it away to two India phone manufacturers for free.
It was last month when Microsoft announced more phone makers will produce phones running Windows Phone, including the two Indian firms: Lava and Karbonn.
Their versions of Windows Phones will go to market next month, it is expected.
Industry sources told the Times of India newspaper that Microsoft was "in talks with local firms to produce affordable Windows Phone devices since last year."
However, agreements only happened when Microsoft said it would remove the Windows Phone license fee it charges manufacturers to use the operating system.
The move will save these two firms significant costs, as it has been reported that Nokia was charged between $20 and $30 for each Lumia device it sold.
An executive with an Indian phone company told the Times of India: "For our planned Windows Phone handsets, we are not paying Microsoft a license fee. The company is obviously exploring new models for Windows Phone. It must have realised that the older model where it licensed the OS did not work out well, even with Nokia’s support."
"Free Windows Phone is part of a strategic partnership. For both Microsoft and us, it is an experiment. Windows Phone still doesn’t have lot of appeal in the market but now that it doesn’t have any license fee, it becomes easier for us to experiment with it," a different employee told the newspaper.
The move by Microsoft is just another sign that show the stresses of Windows Phone for the software giant. As of February 2014, Windows Phone devices only held a 0.45% share in the global smartphone market, according to figures from Netmarketshare.com.