back to article Microsoft: Oh PLEASE, HTC. Who says Windows Phone can't go on an Android mobe? – report

Microsoft has asked HTC to install Windows Phone as a user-selectable option on its Android handsets, according to a recent report. The news comes from Bloomberg, which has been chatting to the omniscient "people familiar", who reckon Redmond was prepared to sacrifice its licence fee if HTC would include the OS as an option on …

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  1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    Actually, this seems to be a good idea, if true*. There are a reasonable number of people who would buy the a phone with the OS they know, and then try the other one. There would actually be a way for people to compare OSes back to back, which is something missing from the ecosystem at the moment.

    *and depending on how it was implemented, such as being able to transfer key details between the two, such as contacts etc.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      re: *

      I don't think the idea is to let you flip-flop, only to choose when you buy the phone or first use it.

      1. Law

        Re: re: *

        Providing you also get the option to change your mind back (at the cost of wiping the phone clean) I'm all for this idea. Hell, I'd love to give win phone a go on my nexus 4 if they (Microsoft) released a rom or something for it... I may not stay on that platform, but I'd give it a go.

        The problem (I've seen) with the more expensive winphone-only phones is you are asking people to give up what they know and take a chance on an underdog platform... I've yet to even toy with one, and I'm a gadget whore and always jump on the chance to play with these things.

        If they made it less risky for flagship phone buyers (like going back to android if they hate it) - I think their numbers would increase a lot as a good portion will probably prefer it if done right - as in, all usual win features available to the install (and stable).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: *

        So we can upgrade all those Android malware magnets to a more secure OS in WP?

        Sounds like a seller to me....

      3. Obvious Robert

        Re: re: *

        I don't think the idea is to let you flip-flop, only to choose when you buy the phone or first use it.

        While I agree with your interpretation of the story, is there actually any technical reason - aside from storage space required for the ROMs - why we couldn't have dual boot OS on a phone?

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      I fell for this once

      Windows CE as a mobile phone wasnt good as a phone (Much like most mobiles these days :S)

      Having a start menu and touchscreen that refused to click the start button wore thin very quickly.

      1. Andy Nugent

        Re: I fell for this once

        Isn't judging Windows Phone on how Windows Mobile worked a bit like saying I'm not getting an iPhone as I didn't like the Newton?

        1. Gav

          Re: I fell for this once

          I'm not fooling for this Windows Phone nonsense either! I tried Windows 3.1, and found it impossible to fit the computer into any of my pockets. And that's even before you attached the modem. Micro$oft fail!!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I fell for this once

        You have to remember that all touch screen phones had a rather sucky interface. Palm was probably about the best but they all needed styluses.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I fell for this once

        "Windows CE as a mobile phone wasnt good as a phone"

        Hence the reputation for living up to the monkier "Wince"

        Having said that, it was tolerable on an iPAQ, but winfones were less than usable.

    3. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Presumably

      When you power it up for the first time it will ask you which OS you want to run.

      1) Android

      2) Windows

      If you click 2 it will then ask for a credit card to pay the Windows license fee.

      You'll then think bugger, I'm not paying and try the back button, but too late its pay for Windows or its a brick.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Presumably

        I'd imagine that if it were being sold as Android or Windows, the license fee would be covered by the Android fee.

        1. Bernardo Sviso

          Re: Presumably

          Did you miss the part about Windows Phone being a Microsoft product?

          1. Bernardo Sviso

            Re: Re: Presumably

            Did you miss the part about Windows Phone being a Microsoft product?

            (somehow posted reply to wrong comment, first time)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windows on any platform is a bad idea IP.

    5. Homer 1
      Windows

      re: good idea

      Even as someone who despises Microsoft with every fibre of his being, I have to agree that people should in fact have a choice of OS on their hardware, so I fully support this.

      However, it cuts both ways. If Microsoft expects "Windows" to be offered as an option on Android handsets, then I think it's only fair that GNU/Linux should be offered as an option on all "Windows" desktops, so Microsoft needs to go speak to it's OEM "partners" pronto, and tear up those racketeering "agreements".

      Right?

      I mean, fair's fair, after all.

    6. Shooter

      I'd tend to agree with you, except that it sounds like MS wants a one-time, "either/or" selection to be made. Personally, I think a dual boot phone would be awesome. I made a comment a few days ago on another story about how I like using HTC Sense scenes to switch between work and home mode; being able to use different a OS would be even better.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Why du

        "Personally, I think a dual boot phone would be awesome"

        Why dual boot when you could run both using vmware or similar? (Blueksy thinking)

    7. Vociferous

      I'd be all in favor of it being possible to install other OS's on my phone. That would be wonderful. I've got an HTC Radar Windows Phone, would really like to replace that OS.

    8. Kunari

      If it's just a great idea, they'll put Android on all the Nokia phones.

    9. N13L5

      Dual boot is indeed a good option for a phone, just like it is for any computer.

      Of course the interesting smartphone options would be Android / Ubuntu and not the crippled, locked down windows phone.

      If you could alternatively boot Ubuntu, you'd have access to a real desktop OS, you can use either in a pinch or when you have your smart mobe hooked up to an external display.

  2. ukgnome Silver badge
    Trollface

    Hmmm, I like iOS but I don't like Apple devices

    I like Android, but wish it was on a nokia..

    Windows on a mobile.....nope

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: but wish it was on a nokia..

      But Nokia are waving good-bye to the Windows phone business, so will be free to do as they please...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: but wish it was on a nokia..

        "But Nokia are waving good-bye to the Windows phone business, so will be free to do as they please..."

        No - they ware waving good bye to their entire mobile device business - e.g. Asha phones too - and are not allowed to complete in that market for several years.....

  3. Frankee Llonnygog

    Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

    You could start a grass roots movement for phones that come with no OS, letting the user install their own choice, and not having to pay the Android (Linux) tax.

    Oh, wait, Android is free. I guess we can call that kharma

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

      No, no, that would be fine, that way we wouldn't need to pay Microsoft's Linux tax

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

      Andriod is free, Google play is not.

      " Devices must also meet this definition to be eligible to license Google's closed-source applications, including Google Play." (Yes I know Wiki and all that)

      So most of them pay the Google Tax.......

      And cue downvotes.

      1. Charles Manning

        Lncensing Googles closed source applications != paying a fee

        A Licence just means there is some agreement. It does not necessarily mean there was a payment.

        Google makes their money as the phone is being used. No need to wallop the handset makers with licensing fees.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

      Except there are the features in Android that MS have (or claim to have) IP for, which are paid by the manufacturers, so no, Android isn't free, it's just you don't see the cost.

      1. Tyrion

        Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

        >> Except there are the features in Android that MS have (or claim to have) IP for, which are paid by the manufacturers, so no, Android isn't free, it's just you don't see the cost.

        That's what's called M$ F.U.D. They want everyone to believe that Android isn't free, where as in fact it is.

        Want to know how it's free? I can download it right now from AOSP, build it, and run it, without cost. That's the definition of free.

        M$ can extort companies all they want, but it won't change reality, nor will it reverse the opinion that they're an abusive monopolist and patent troll.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

          "Want to know how it's free? I can download it right now from AOSP, build it, and run it, without cost. That's the definition of free."

          No it's not. It's only costing you nothing because you're not planning to sell it.

          Lots of licences allow no-cost use until you try to make money from the product, and this includes several open source products too: in fact, the GPL licence is deliberately compatible with this kind of business model. The original goal of the Open Source movement wasn't to give stuff away for nothing; it was to ensure that people who had often PAID for a product were also given the code, which would allow them to port it to a new hardware/OS platform in future. OSS was primarily about preventing vendor lock-in, not about forcing developers to work for nothing. See this: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

          The various technologies under dispute on Andoid have a "no fee for non-commercial use" licence already, so you are fully entitled in law to pull the sources, build Android and use it. But, when you start to sell the product, you are no longer covered by this "non commercial" licence, and must obtain a commercial-use licence instead.

          1. fandom Silver badge

            Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

            AMD, from whom do you get that "comercial" licence from?

          2. jaduncan

            Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

            There is no commercial use (or, indeed, any form of use) restriction in GPL at all.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

            " in fact, the GPL licence is deliberately compatible with this kind of business model."

            Um. No. You can make quite a bit of money from GPL. Just ask Red Hat.

            1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

              Re: Hey Microsoft - here's an idea

              "You can make quite a bit of money from GPL. Just ask Red Hat."

              Um. Yes. That's what I was saying in the sentence you quoted ;)

  4. Steve Knox
    Happy

    My Suggested Response

    Dear Microsoft,

    Whilst you have historically been very adamant about minimizing customer confusion by limiting them to one preinstalled OS per device, your current request seems to indicate a welcome change of attitude, to the more widely held belief that choice, when presented clearly, does not increase confusion and improves overall customer satisfaction.

    That being the case, surely two manufacturers presenting such choice is better than one. Let us help you engineer Android for your Nokia Lumia phones, so that we can present a united front upholding the value of choice, in both hardware and software.

    Cordially yours,

    HTC

    1. Chemist

      Re: My Suggested Response

      Initial first setup screen

      "Please press "1" to install WP8, or "2" to remove Android

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: My Suggested Response

      Your response is fun but HTC wound not gain anything if Nokia put Android, as a choice, on Lumia phones, quite the opposite as Nokia would most likely become a stronger competitor. The only one to gain is Nokia (and some of us) unfortunately the Microsoft EGO is too huge to do it. And that will not change as long as Gates and/or Ballmer are on the board. Microsoft has to play "nice" with HTC as there is no way (no mole) to push out Android.

      Android is just a tool for HTC, and others, run by Google, they have no psychological bond with it. Personally, if my Nokia ever dies I will have a look at the Sailfish.

  5. M Gale

    I think a funnier option would be HTC saying something like "tell you what, we'll ignore Windows Phone AND your shitty tax on anything not Windows."

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Actually it's a great idea

    Allowing customers to choose - what's not to like?

    Personally I think they should let you choose when you buy it which you want, and allow expert users the opportunity to re-install later.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Actually it's a great idea

      "Allowing customers to choose - what's not to like?"

      Well yes.

      Except that historically, for mobiles, the customers buying the phones mostly aren't you and me, the customers are the mobile carriers (and a handful of carrier-independent outfits).

      Dealmaking at near-CEO level should of course be natural Microsoft territory, but once you get MS away from the PC/IT platform, the wheels even come off their dealmaking abilities.

      So they've failed to convince the CEO-level people about WinPhone, they've failed to convince end users about WinPhone.

      Still, look on the bright side. The only way is up?

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Actually it's a great idea

      My idea too, for many years, why not an empty phone with some cards to read the OS of your choice from, and switching when you like. It would though be fun to see how market shares where counted then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Actually it's a great idea

        "My idea too, for many years, why not an empty phone with some cards to read the OS of your choice from, and switching when you like. "

        I support this plan, simply because it would bring SD card slots back to more phones.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

    They got distracted by the Windows Phone OS that consumers have told the world they aren't interested in. Samsung took the ball and ran with it.

    Windows Phone destroyed HTC last time around, they took their eye of the ball, and it was game over.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

      Look at what happened to anybody.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

      "the Windows Phone OS that consumers have told the world they aren't interested in"

      Erm - you know it's the fastest growing mobile OS, and just hit 12% market share in the UK?

      1. M Gale

        Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

        http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-GB-monthly-201209-201309

        Try less than 5%. Blackberry is more fantastically successful in the UK than Windows Phone is, and this is a region where iOS still leads things. As for "fastest growing", by what metric? I'm looking at those charts of actual usage (not phones stuffed into warehouses and shops), and Windows Phone is looking pretty flat to me.

        Nobody wants it, even though it's being advertised absolutely everywhere and talked about by all the tech sites and consumer magazines. If Microsoft are lucky, and they waste a few more billion, they might make 4th or 5th over the next 5 or 6 years or so, at current growth rates. That's assuming Google hasn't bought them by then.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

          No - try 12% in the UK: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/01/microsoft-nokia-smartphone-windows-phone

          WP has been ahead of Blackberry since the beginning of 2013...So they are already 3rd - and are about to overtake Apple in markets like Germany...

          1. Chemist

            Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

            "try 12% in the UK:"

            That's 12% of (alleged) SALES, not 12% MARKET SHARE - at the current rate it will take ~ 2-3 years to reach 12% SHARE

          2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Not going to happen - look what happened to HTC last time.

            > No - try 12% in the UK:

            From Kantar report:

            """According to its second-quarter figures (PDF), its overall smartphone average selling price (ASP) fell to €157, compared to €191 and €187 in the previous two quarters. """

            So, yes, WP may be up to 12% but it has been achieved by selling at a loss (see Nokia's report). They can only dump bargain bin phones for a short time before they either close or sell up. Aha, they sold the business. If MS continues selling at a loss then then the OEMs will complain to, say, the EUC and/or stop making WP.

          3. Charles Manning

            Already?

            "So they are already 3rd - and are about to overtake Apple in markets like Germany.."

            That statement might make sense if Microsoft had just entered the smartphone market. They have not and it is disingenuous to play the "give MS/Nokia a chance to prove themselves" card.

            Microsoft have been in the Smartphone market since 2003 or so. That is twice as long as Apple or Google.

            Nokia was once, well, NOKIA (yes, they were deserving of full-caps).

            Both held positions of strength in smartphones. By shear incompetence they have thrown away that advantage to be completely upstaged by Apple and Google.

  8. Rick Leeming

    Nice Idea, but it'll never fly

    I like Windows Phone. I've used it since I got a HD7, and found it to be FAR more reliable than the Android handsets I've also had at the same time. I've never had to wipe my phone because of some weird error that nobody knows what to do with. It's also quick, and simple to use. Actually easier than iOS. It's not the most cusomisable OS ever, but after the abortion that was Windows Mobile I'm not surprised MS went as far as they did to lock it out.

    Before I got my current Mobile (Lumia 920) I spent 8 months with various Android Handsets and an iPhone. None of them were as nice to use In My Opinion. The iPhone was frustrating for what it didn't do for me, and the Android handsets were irritating in their need for apps that had a habit of saying "****** has stopped", and giving me nothing but an option to report or OK. Well yeah,but WHY did it crash? If you're telling me it's crashed, tell me WHY rather than leaving me to guess.

    Windows Phone on the other hand has never given me an App Crash, it gets rebooted maybe once every 3 months, and it's no slower at that age than it is straight out of the box.

    Different strokes for different folks, and no mobile is suited to everyone, but the majority of people I know that have lived with Windows Phone for more than a couple of weeks turn in to "Out of My Cold Dead Hand" people. The others tended to have a particular app they wanted, or just wanted the latest shiny shiny iPhone/Galaxy-S.

  9. Goldmember

    "so these discussions are either at a very early stage – more brainstorming than formal proposal – or the world of Windows Phone is in even worse condition than it appears. "

    Or the third option; the rumours are bollocks. I'm not saying they are, just that it's an option.

  10. BeerTokens

    RT

    Does this mean they will be unlocking the bootloader on RT so we can put android or another linux distro on it?

    No?

    Thought not.

    Obviously the CEO of HTC does not allow such petty things to enter into negotiations, but it would be funny if they said yes only if we can sell win rt tabs with dual boot android or ubuntu and an unlocked bootloader.

  11. bitten

    Good idea, and in the meantime Android on a Microsoft-Nokia. Please?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money talks

    A nice good old MS 'loyalty bonus' to HTC should ensure that they make the right decision...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have to give credit to HTC for still being in the ring to fight the battle. In an industry when the mighty have been slain and humbled (Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, RIM, NEC, Alcatel, Sagem etc etc) by the juggernauts Samsung and Apple, HTC have done very well to be able to still mix it with the big boys. It was they that disrupted the monopoly of Nokia with their classy smartphones (Window based I may add), but just didn't have the muscle like Samsung to have their fingers at the same time in other new pies being baked at the time (AKA Android). By the time they were able to get the resources in place the Samsung machine had already started its operation in full flow, and the new kid on the block the imitated HTC that is Apple had taken the emperors clothes.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Leave HTC alone your Microsoft scums

    Haven't you already ruined Nokia?

  15. poohbear

    I wonder if MS is starting to worry about ending up behind Ubuntu / Firefox / Sailfish / Tizen phones? Or if the fact that at some point in the near to medium future (if not already) there will be more personal computing devices based on that upstart Linux than on Windows .... and we all know that developers go where the numbers are....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With Microsoft setting so many ground rules for what resolution the phone runs at and the button arrangements. It's difficult for an Android phone to simply run Windows Phone.

  17. eswan

    Wasn't this tried on desktops by IBM for OS/2 and by BeOS? Seems like I remember Microsoft doing some arm twisting to keep OEMs from cooperating.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you guys are so biased

    Seriously, I've read El Reg for years. It's good your journalists get the freedom to write what they want but a lot of the articles are becoming more and more like fanboi forum posts.

    Google has network issues - there's a subdued article. Anything happens to MS - feeding frenzy.

    Elon Musk does anything - El Reg is giddy with excitement. Minor problems for Orbital Science (who docked with the ISS, an amazing achievement!) and you're almost brushing it under the carpet. And the Orbital Science issues were no worse than SpaceX (an awesome company) recent issues.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you guys are so biased

      Are you yet another minion of the Dark Lord "Steve" Baldemort?

      The style and content of your comment have the fingerprints of his minions on them... "I've read El Reg for years"... then "..fanboi forum posts" - American nomenclature I think - and then the ad hominem attack on the the journalist. And then a little bit of Scrooglism - one of Microsoft's most winning personality characteristics.

      Delicious.

    2. Red Bren
      Trollface

      Re: you guys are so biased

      "I've read El Reg for years."

      But this is only the second time you've commented?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: you guys are so biased

        >>>American nomenclature I think

        You're very bright, I've never actually been there.

        >>>"I've read El Reg for years."But this is only the second time you've commented?

        Yup, and I'm sure there are people who have read El Reg for longer and have commented even less.

        Why the hostility? Does the truth hurt a little?

  19. Tyrion

    After the Nokia device unit acquisition, Windows mobile/phone will effectively be Microsoft exclusive. Sure, you've got Samsung, HTC, and perhaps a couple of chinese firms, but no one's committing serious resources to it now, especially in light of Microsoft now competing with its own OEM's in the phone business.

    I have no doubt now that Windows mobile/phone will go the way of RT; that is to say, it's a dead-end platform.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I have no doubt now that Windows mobile/phone will go the way of RT; that is to say, it's a dead-end platform."

      Windows Phone is still increasing market share rapidly, and one would expect Microsoft controlling both devices and OS to only increase sales, so I can't see that WP is going to be a dead end any time soon...

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Just rumours

    Unless Microsoft is prepared either to do the work and port Windows Phone to whatever hardware revisions of a particular model a manufacturer is working on, or, provide the manufacturer with the necessary source code for the drivers then this simply isn't practicable.

  21. Vociferous

    I wish HTC offered *Android* as an installable choice.

    I've got a HTC Radar Windows Phone. Nice phone, shame about the OS. I really, really, wish I could install another OS on it.

  22. eJ2095

    HTC HD2

    This phone ha this option but all third party. Magdlr Loader.

    Sold mine about year ago but was a fun fone to play with

  23. W. Anderson

    It would never be equl access

    The history of Microsoft's business arrangements means that any agreement reached with HTC for installing Windows 8 Mobile (supposedly) "alongside" Android on the Taiwan company's mobile devices, dictates that the terms imposed on HTC will be draconian to the effect that Windows 8 Mobile must  be the "default"  OS and have more functionality than under Android, even if HTC has to "disable" or "eliminate" many Android features.

    That is the nature of the beast!, according to most professional and expert technologists with whom I have spoken.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I don't think so..

    I don't think it'll be "which OS do you want to use?" it'll be, HTC would have a HTC model number 1270 and a 1270W for instance. Otherwise, Microsoft would want a license fee paid on 100% of the phones even if it's not used, like they do on PCs.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I don't think so..

      From the article: "...who reckon Redmond was prepared to sacrifice its licence fee if HTC would include the OS as an option on its flagship hardware."

      If true, this means Microsoft wouldn't be getting a penny. Of course, from a marketing point of view it also allows rivals (and El Reg commentards) to say that Windows Phone is so bad that Microsoft can't even give it away, which is one reason why I doubt the truth of these rumours.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I don't think so..

        But it would allow MS to inflate the "numbers of Windows phones sold" figures, as every phone sold with the Windows option they would count as a windows phone...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't think so..

          Unlikely - Microsoft can count activations rather than installs...

          1. GrantB

            Re: I don't think so..

            "Unlikely - Microsoft can count activations rather than installs..."

            Microsoft can indeed count every single Windows Phone and give a break down of which version and model etc.

            The fact that they don't give actual numbers is a pretty clear indication that they are not something that they are proud of

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Way to negotiate, MS.

    They've got a pretty weak bargaining position there. HTC have them over a barrel, they should make the most of this opportunity: they should make MS pay *them* to use Windows.

    And also insist that Ballmer and Gates dress up in gingham skirts and sing "I'm a little teapot". Heh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Way to negotiate, MS.

      "HTC have them over a barrel"

      Hardly - HTC are dying and loosing billions - and have tiny WP market share. Microsoft are offering them a lifeline....

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Way to negotiate, MS.

        > Hardly - HTC are dying and loosing billions - and have tiny WP market share. Microsoft are offering them a lifeline....

        A lifeline made of solid gold lead, as Nokia discovered.

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