Microsoft Says Windows to Be Free for Some Mobile Devices

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is making its Windows licenses free for mobile phones and tablets that have screens of less than nine inches, in a move to spur adoption of the software.

The world’s largest software company has historically made Windows available to hardware makers for a licensing fee. That has put Microsoft at a disadvantage to Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android mobile operating system, which is offered for free to device manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. and which has become the most widely used software in smartphones and tablets.

Microsoft made the announcement at its Build developer conference in San Francisco where it also showed off its new Windows Phone 8.1 mobile software with a voice-search feature called Cortana.

Windows stands to be the fastest-growing smartphone operating system over the next four years with 30 percent annual growth, according to a Feb. 26 report by researcher IDC. Even at that rate, Windows Phone would only make up 7 percent of the total market in 2018, compared with Google’s Android software at 76 percent and Apple’s iOS at 14 percent.

In tablets, Windows had 3.4 percent share in 2013, IDC said. For Microsoft’s Surface tablet, the share was 1 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pui-Wing Tam in San Francisco at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Pui-Wing Tam at Ben Livesey

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