iNVEZZ.com, Monday, February 24: Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), the world’s largest software company, is intending to drive down the cost of handsets which use its Windows Mobile operating system, in order to reach a much wider audience, the company revealed yesterday at the Mobile World Congress trade fair. Microsoft is easing restrictions on how handset makers use its mobile platform to encourage them to make cheaper phones. The tech giant will soon introduce a new update to the Windows Phone platform that will add support for cheaper chip sets from existing supplier, Qualcomm Inc (NASDAQ:QCOM).
In Friday’s trading, Microsoft shares closed up 0.6 percent at $37.98.
“We are open for business on Windows Phone to anyone who wants to build a Windows phone,” Reuters quoted Nick Parker, senior vice president for handset makers at Microsoft, as saying at the Mobile World Congress convention in Barcelona.
Parker noted that the changes the company is making have attracted a number of new smartphone manufacturers to build Windows Phones, including LG Electronics, Lenovo, ZTE, Foxconn, Longcheer, Gionee and India’s Xola and Karbonn.
According to Microsoft vice president Joe Belfiore, some of the standards for Windows Phone handsets will be relaxed. The Redmond-based tech giant had been very strict over hardware specifications, wanting to ensure a uniform Windows Phone user experience, regardless of handset maker. For example, the company had insisted manufacturers equip Windows Phone devices with three physical buttons. That is no longer a requirement, and will allow manufacturers to use cheaper soft keys and adapt designs to those used for Android phones.
**Extending mobile reach**
The push towards cheaper Windows Phones marks the first major move by Microsoft’s new chief executive officer Satya Nadella to strengthen the company’s position in the key mobile market. Windows Phone is the third most widely used platform for smartphones, trailing Google Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS by a huge margin. Of the more than one billion smartphones shipped last year, only 3.3 percent ran Microsoft’s operating system, according to research firm IDC. The bulk of Windows phones sold were manufactured by Nokia, IDC said.
By driving down the cost of Windows Phone handsets, Microsoft will be better equipped to compete with Android on the sub-$100 smartphone market and tackle emerging markets more effectively.
Bloomberg has quoted Belfiore as saying: “Our new CEO has said mobile first…That plays naturally to our strategy of reaching more people.”
**As of Friday’s US close buy Microsoft shares at $37.98**
**As of Friday’s US close sell Microsoft shares at $37.98**
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