Windows Goes Free for Tablets, Phones
April 3, 2014 10:13 AM
Microsoft tries to compete with Google and Apple
In addition to the launch of
new Windows Phone devices
the flagship Lumia 930
, Microsoft Corp. (
) had two other big pieces of news on Tuesday at
the BUILD conference
new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
announced that Microsoft would be following in Google Inc.'s (GOOG) footsteps, offering Windows for free to tablet and smartphone OEMs.
This was surely a difficult decision, one that Microsoft's last CEO, Steve Ballmer, was unable to make. But Microsoft had already in recent years
drastically trimmed its smartphone and tablet licensing rates
, given that it was spending a lot of money to make these products and
almost no one was buying or using them
. Prior to this week's announcement, Microsoft was reportedly charging between $5 USD and $15 USD per tablet (Windows RT) or smartphone (Windows Phone) license.
Gartner, Inc. (
) estimates that today only 3 percent of smartphones and 2 percent of tablets run Windows. Microsoft is currently
in third place in each market
But going free could change that.
Mr. Nadella, who rose up at Microsoft as a cloud computing star, indicated that the cloud will be a key part of Microsoft's strategy going forward. He
We are going to innovate with a challenger mindset. We are not coming at this as some incumbent trying to do the next version of Windows, we are going to come at this by innovating in every dimension.
Our vision, simply put, is to thrive in this world of mobile first, cloud first. Our goal is to really build platforms, create the best end-user experiences, the best developer opportunities and IT infrastructure for this ubiquitous computing world.
Key components of that cloud strategy include natural language processing and cloud storage. Microsoft
announced the personal assistant Cortana
at BUILD, which is currently in beta. Significantly smarter than Apple, Inc.'s (
) current model Siri assistant, Cortana's advanced abilities to understand rather abstract queries heavily leverages Microsoft's cloud computing prowess. Likewise Microsoft's
recently announced OneDrive
is gunning for Google Inc.'s (
) Google Drive and other storage services like Box.
rumored to be considering an ad-supported free version
of PC (laptop, desktop, hybrids) Windows to OEMs as well.
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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