Microsoft said Wednesday its intention to provide a free Windows operating system to manufacturers of smartphones and small tablets, the software company seeking to enter these growing markets.
The decision of the U.S. publisher, announced at its annual conference in San Francisco, seeks to expand the customer base for mobile devices using the Windows system, hoping to attract a growing number of customers for its dematerialized services (” cloud “) such as Skype and Office.
Until now, Microsoft has been charging handset manufacturers and tablet for the use of its different versions of Windows on their devices, as it has done successfully for many years on Windows computers.Manufacturers include this cost in their prices.
But this model has been challenged in recent years by the free Google Android system for smartphones and tablets, as manufacturers have adopted and fitted to more than 75% of smartphones sold last year.
Conversely, phones running Windows accounted for only 3% of the global smartphone market in 2013 and the Windows tablets have weighed about 2% of the tablet market last year, according to research firm Gartner.
The decision of Microsoft to offer free Windows for some devices breaks with one of the main principles of its founder Bill Gates, who wants the software to be paid, which has been extremely profitable over the past four decades. But analysts believe that this initiative is nevertheless a realistic reaction to unparalleled success of free Android operating system.
“Microsoft is facing challenges on the fronts of phones and tablets and must change strategy to accelerate its growth, it is a positive first and logical step,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
The move comes a week after the presentation by the new Director General of Satya Nadella group of new versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel applications for the Apple iPad.
This shows that Microsoft is now more interested in winning market share for its dematerialized on any platform or device services rather than continue its approach of Windows place at the center of its range of products.
The Cortana service, which can include receiving verbal instructions for searching the internet and set up alarm signals, is still in testing but will soon be available on all Windows phones.