Microsoft is announcing a sea of changes to the way it licenses Windows to device manufacturers.

Windows New Microsoft giving away Windows for free for devices under 9 inches, Start menu making its way to Windows 8.1

At the BUILD conference in San Francisco Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it would be offering Windows for free to manufacturers as long as the device is under 9-inches. The move is clearly targeted at enticing more manufacturers to build Windows Phone handsets.

Traditionally, Microsoft charged device vendors anywhere from $15 to $35 in licensing fees for Windows Phone. Removing the licensing fee from the equation should generate significant interest from manufacturers. Under the deal, Windows Phone, Windows RT and Windows 8 will be offered for free to manufacturers building devices under 9 inches. It also means that for the first time, there is a clear reason for manufacturers to build Windows Phone devices in lieu of Android. Most manufacturers shell out $5 to Microsoft as Android-related royalties. Were they to utilise Windows Phone, they would be saving on that cost.

Windows Free Microsoft giving away Windows for free for devices under 9 inches, Start menu making its way to Windows 8.1

Microsoft also announced that Windows would be offered for free on Internet of Things devices. Offering Windows for free is a huge change for Microsoft, which has traditionally relied of software sales of Windows and Office for a bulk of its profits. The move is one of the boldest the Redmond giant has undertaken thus far, and should see a lot of dividends.

Windows 8 1 Microsoft giving away Windows for free for devices under 9 inches, Start menu making its way to Windows 8.1

Also announced at the conference is the revival of the Start menu in Windows 8.1. Microsoft is delivering a host of changes that will be pushed via an update that is set to go live on April 8. The new Start menu for Windows 8.1 will include built-in Live Tiles on the right, with a similar program navigation section on the left. The update should make it easier for mouse and keyboard users to navigate the Windows 8 user interface.

Windows universal Microsoft giving away Windows for free for devices under 9 inches, Start menu making its way to Windows 8.1

Microsoft is also working on a new runtime that allows developers to create universal apps. Customers buying an app for Windows 8.1 will be able to run it on all Windows Phone devices as well as the Xbox. From the conference, it is clear that Microsoft is finally realizing that it needs to change to gain ground in the mobile platform wars. Whether its initiatives will entice the kind of interest it is looking for is another matter.

Source: Windows Blog