Microsoft may be handing out Windows Phone and Windows RT free to Android device makers for a dual-boot scenario.
Last week Bloomberg reported that Terry Myerson, the head of Microsoft's operating systems unit, approached HTC about providing Windows Phone as a secondary operating system on Android phones at little or no cost to the device maker. Sources claimed that the talks were preliminary, and that no final decisions have been made.
Sources also claimed that HTC currently has no plans to make stand-alone Windows-based phones. The company was the first to separately produce both Android and Windows-based handsets, but hasn't launched a new Windows phone since June. Allowing HTC to provide Windows Phone as a second OS for free may not only rekindle the company's interest in the platform, but provide Microsoft an even larger audience.
Bloomberg's sources indicated that the technical details about adding Windows Phone as a second OS have yet to be ironed out. The sources were also unclear about whether the resulting HTC phone would run Windows and Android at the same time, or let users choose a platform by default. Myserson is reportedly planning to visit HTC's headquarters in Taoyuan, Taiwan this month to discuss his Windows Phone proposal.
Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other executives reportedly met with handset makers during a trip to Beijing at the end of September. Sources claimed the company is pushing to keep strong relationships with handset makers despite its upcoming purchase of Nokia's devices and services division, and expects to win over those who previously focused on Android.
Now Russian journalist Eldar Murtazin claims that Microsoft has also approached Samsung and Huawei, and that Samsung is getting ready to release a new Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 2014 Edition that dual-boots Android and Windows RT, similar to the way the ATIV Q is set up. Samsung is reportedly considering a dual-boot smartphone as well, but hasn't made a final decision.
The report claims that Microsoft is offering Windows Phone for smartphones and Windows RT for tablets, both for free plus compensation for necessary adaption costs. Thus the Redmond company, at least in the case of ARM-based form factors, would be taking the Google route by offering its platform for free in exchange for platform exposure, possible ad sales and digital content sales.
Thus in a sense, Microsoft would gain a substantially larger market share simply by piggy-backing Android devices. Android dominated the smartphone operating system market in the second quarter with a 79 percent claim, followed by Apple with 13 percent and Microsoft with 3.7 percent. Samsung was the top Android device seller during that quarter, whereas HTC was ranked at #8.
Last month Samsung confirmed that its ATIV Q hybrid sporting both Android and Windows 8 Pro would not launch until 2014. Previous issues with patents led to speculation that the device was discontinued altogether. The tablet supposedly features an Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of internal storage, and a 13.3 inch screen with a 3200 x 1800 resolution.