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10/4/2013
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Microsoft Urges HTC To Adopt Windows Phone

Microsoft offers to waive licensing fees if HTC puts Windows Phone on its Android smartphones as a second option.

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Microsoft, desperate to boost adoption of its Windows Phone platform, has approached HTC about installing WP8 on its Android-based smartphones. Microsoft is willing to dramatically reduce, and even eliminate altogether, licensing fees for its OS to convince HTC that the idea has merit.

Windows Phone would exist on HTC's Android phones as a second option, meaning the same hardware could run either Android or Windows Phone. Terry Myerson, Microsoft's OS head, made the request of HTC last month and plans to visit the company in Taiwan to discuss the matter further, reports Bloomberg.

HTC is one of Microsoft's few remaining partners when it comes to Windows Phone, though it has shown the platform little support this year. HTC has long made Microsoft-based products. It developed and sold an entire range of Windows Mobile smartphones for nearly a decade. It was among the first to support Windows Phone when it launched in 2010, but HTC's interest in the platform has clearly sagged.

[ Affordable Nokia smartphones help boost Windows Phone in Europe. Read Nokia Spurs Windows Phone Gains In Europe. ]

HTC debuted the 8XT Windows Phone handset in June. The only WP8 device the company has introduced in 2013, the 8XT itself is a mishmash of two older handsets from HTC. Further, HTC has taken pains to craft the best Android hardware it can. The HTC One and One mini are shining examples of attractive and powerful smartphones. HTC hasn't put that kind of effort into creating Windows Phone devices.

It's little wonder, then, that Microsoft wants to see its own platform on HTC's high-end devices.

The Windows Phone platform is gaining ground in the smartphone landscape, but very slowly. Worldwide it still holds less than 5% of the space, though it has grown in some regions, such as Europe, to nearly 10%. That puts it far behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS, which together control 90% or more of the world's smartphones.

Bloomberg's report is short on details of how Microsoft's proposal might work in the real world. Will the devices have dual-boot functionality, capable of switching between platforms, or will they be hardwired to launch with just one or the other when first activated? How would Microsoft and HTC market these devices? Which carriers would want them? Network operators already know that Android devices sell well and Windows Phones do not.

It's also unclear what incentive there is to HTC. Despite glowing reviews, the HTC One has not helped reverse the company's dwindling fortunes. Even though HTC makes some of the best Android smartphones money can buy, not enough people are buying them. Is adding a second operating system really the answer for HTC? Granted, it could help reduce HTC's costs as far as creating new devices is concerned. Rather than engineering two separate classes of device -- one Android, one Windows Phone -- it could create one that runs either platform. But that's a stretch.

Neither HTC nor Microsoft commented on Bloomberg's report.

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