Microsoft drops Windows royalty fee for devices with screens under nine inches

Microsoft drops Windows royalty fee for devices with screens under nine inches

One of the bigger announcements to come out of Build 2014 is that Microsoft is dropping the manufacturer royalty fee on Windows and Windows Phone for devices under 9 inches in size. This is a big deal for partners, and ultimately good news for consumers since costs won’t have to be passed down. This will also be applied to devices that tie into the internet of things, like wearables or home automation devices.

We had an inkling that this would be happening, but don’t expect this move to come to proper desktop or laptop PCs any time soon.

Source: Microsoft



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Xellsama says:

9 inches, so essentially ALL Windows Phones? Wow this IS great news!

Does anybody want a nine inch windows phone :DDDDD but I think they are meaning anything with windows laptops and tablets probably over 9 inches!

juanitoriv says:

Eyes. This means all WPs, a decent number of tablets (think DVP8 for $150), as well as the new generation of tech we haven't seen too much of like watches, Miracast dongles, glasses, thermostats, key fobs, dog collars, etc. Microsoft just broke Android's open source mold without going open source. Can you understand the implications here??

wtma says:

True that, but I won't go into thinking of such wide array of products (for now). Agree that this will very likely turns WP into a serious threat for Android in smartphone industry though. It's a necessity for MS to make such a move.

I honestly think they already dropped the fee on most 8 inch tablets . They all started at 299 and are now 229-249.

You got it. All of the best functionality of Windows heritage, delivered securely and for free. And none of the scroogling or ridiculous fragmentation of Android. This is huge.

That's what she said!

Tense says:

I want a 9" WP just because it would be hilarious to have while out and about.

SocalTouch says:

This is a BIG announcement. Expect this to bring a flood of new manufacturers and devices with Windows/ Window Phone to the market.

Residing says:

You're quite the optimist. 


I really don't see anymore phone oems on board, at least not the LG's or Sony's; I don't even see Samsung cranking out as many WP devices as they do their Android devices with the fee being waived.  But, we shall see :)

blackhawk556 says:

LG was already announced last month as jumping on board again if I remember correctly.

astraith says:

Sony has all ready hinted that they were considering a WP. If they do, and it's just as sexy as the Xperia devices, I'd gladly give up my Nokia for one of those.

Rishicash says:

That will include a Surface Mini :)

theefman says:

With devices like the Dell Venue 8 Pro racking up sales this bodes well for devices later this year with Wacom digitizers and Cherry Trail CPU's that dont cost the earth.

Mestiphal says:

I was going to buy a Dell Venue 8 Pro this Friday, not because I need it, but just for the hell of it, to play with.

Now I don't know if I should... I would be paying for a license which is free now, so technically come next wave of devices, I can get the same basic tablet for 1/5 less in price, or pay the same for a much better tablet, since the cost of the license would go into better technology.

luis300782 says:

If you don't need the device it's better to wait since Windows 8.1 Update 1 (aka Windows 8.11) has a better memory management and 60% less in their image footprint, meaning you get more real empty diskspace from your device!!

Rhody#WP says:

I think it's only for Windows RT, not Windows 8 Pro.

simphf says:

I would only offered a free license to partners that follows the divide guidelines. Example: Camera button on phones.

Kellzea says:

The point though is to flood low cost handsets into the mass markets, i would expect the camera button to.survive on lumia lines, but Samsung et al can now get into the game in a big way.

paulheu says:

The camera button requirement was dropped

simphf says:

I see this as bad.

sManowar says:

Yeah, I agree. I don't understand why any manufacturer wouldn't want it on their phones. It makes things so much easier.

Residing says:

Well, hopefully, the oems that create devices that focus on high end/superior camera capabilities will continue to keep the camera buttion on their devices.

ciscog33k says:

you guys don't get it. there's a ton of low-end manufacturers sooting for nothing but the lowest pricepoint and this lets them reuse their android hardware for WP with very little extra work. if you force them to have camera buttons and capacitive keys, this becomes impossible and they have less reason to put your OS on their devices. MS needs volume at this point. also, while the cost savings will seem marginal, a lot of these companies are on very thin margins and every bit counts.

Higher end phones will continue to have both the cap buttons and camera buttons.

sManowar says:

True, but what I don't get is, say HTC or Samsung, don't do it for their flagships.

neonspark says:

only dominant OS players can call the shots like that. MSFT isn't in a position to do any demands. If anything this shows they have been humbled, and that is a good thing for maybe now they will start going after the competition instead of getting in the way of OEMs and end users.

Revi Bennett says:

Yeah, whatever mr. Troll neosparks

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

CJ Thunder says:

Free on under two inch screens? Aka a watch?

kaostt says:

Dude, read again

CJ Thunder says:

Ah, dropping, not lowering. Got it.

duraz0rz says:

Nine-inch screens.

EzraWard says:

If that watch somehow ran Windows for Internet of Things, then yes.

2 > 9 is false

2 < 9 is true

Ask Cortana if you have doubts! 8-)

I'm a little mixed on this. It's great for phones, but it makes me worry if we'll still see decent hybrids in the future. Will Lenovo want to pay royalties on future Yogas when it can just release 8-inch device? What about future T100-like devices, where the display size is 10.1 inches?

SwimSwim says:

Devices on different sides of the 9-inch border are aimed at completely different markets, with completely different consumers and goals in mind.


As such, any impacting on high-end devices by this policy change should be negligible if not non-existent.

I don't think so. The ASUS T100 really straddles that line, and the thing I like about it is that it's 10.1-inch but still at a reasonably-cheap price. It's got a chance to compete with the 8-inch Miix and Venue Pro devices, and I believe that all carry mostly-identical guts (same Atom CPU/GPU) and versions of Windows. I wouldn't care for a tablet-only device, but I like the T100. However, fi ASUS can save $50-100 on a Windows license by dropping the T100 from 10.1 to 8 inches, that would probably be economically sensible for them, but crappy for consumers.


You're probably right, but there are rare cases I can't help but wonder. The other side of that is if manufactureres would bother with stuff like an 11-inch Yoga when a Miix-like device can be pushed out with no licensing costs. I just can't help but think a bit about the potential for shrinking the market from 9-13 inches.

astraith says:

Would that be bad? They can make their screen 8.9 inches, and it be big, small and portable.

Is there any 9+ inch Windows Phones?

Sam Sabri says:

Not yet, but this also applies to tablets like the Dell Thinkpad 8 or others.

icthusman1 says:

Dell Thinkpad 8? Your crossing borders there friend.

wtma says:

What? You don't know there's Lenovo XPS? ;)

...that'd be like holding a tablet to your face...

See - Asus fonepad

ebradley says:

I doubt we will see a price drop.
It will give the appearance of a level playing field with MS/ Nokia.
Sans patent paychecks.

wtma says:

The main and most important effect is to attract OEM's to do WP more. It's a very interesting benefit from business point of view. Price will adjust itself when the competition heats up.

aitt says:

Boy MS has come out swinging with a nail hammered club

Can't agree more. Can't wait to see more.

I mean I can't wait for the Dev Prev anymore after the conference... Bring it on already!!!!!!!!!!!

Big time. Now the game is on with Android. The days of iOS are numbered.

juanitoriv says:

Dude!!! Mmmmm-hmmmmmmmm!!!!

nizzon says:

iPhone is a high end device. Android and MS are fighting for low end and this move will help MS there. Apple will most certainly keep their fair share of customers.

Rishicash says:

I hope this doesn't end up being a race to the bottom with Android.

aitt says:

That's not necessarily a bad thing

astraith says:

I wouldn't say that. Apple's iOS and iPhone are still great. I love the iPhone 5S. Gold!

jonnob says:

This is huge. Android devices will always have the "patent" cost. That legal process made the field more level against a free Android OS. Now, with WP OS free, it becomes the best choice in terms of cost. Too bad this did not happen three years ago.

juanitoriv says:

Microsoft makes upwards of $40 per EVERY Android device made and then sold. With a FREE Windows OS, available to OEMs, upfront costs will only apply to R&D and manufacturing. The game just changed folks...

neonspark says:

acually it is unknown how much they make. not a single reputable source has ever disclosed it as it is under NDA by each OEM. so, no. it isn't 40, or 10. nobody knows.

jonnob says:

Even if $.01, that is more than "free"

rodneyej says:

This is the biggest WP news so far❕❕


When market share is taken into consideration. It should've happened earlier.

gonza1520 says:

Its about time

Tips_y says:

This will attract a lot of small Android OEMs in Asia to also produce cheap WP8.1 devices. I can see a flood of cheap WP phones side-by-side cheap Android phones in stores. And we all know WP performs well even on low-end hardware!

duraz0rz says:

It should also encourage OEMs to start producing more WP-based devices, as I think the royalty was offputting for some of them, especially with Android being free.

So we should see immediate price drops on the current 8" tablets... right???

I wouldn't count on it.

Zeroplanetz says:

Yay! Potentially more phones!

Viipottaja says:

Fantastic news for WP

Will this help to sell more wp-devices in the U.S. and China where MS is far behind the competitors? Not sure. Looks a bit desperate but I would be more than happy if this works.

Revi Bennett says:

Desperate. You do understand business right. Msft hardly makes any money from those, so making them free is no biggie. Msft wants to improve on the billion people that uses it services daily and the near illion dollars bing makes per quarter. So this not desperate, it brillant and guess what, over 9" where msft do make money, there is still a liscncing fee. So this not desperate

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

astraith says:

It will help to get more manufacturers on board.

Its great news in that it may mean we get more options from more manufactures. But don't think for a second it means manufacturers will drop prices. They will just make more profit. (and that's okay)

PeterFnet says:

Royalty does not equal licensing, right? So licensing is being dropped on these?

nez99 says:

8.9" tablets everywhere soon!

Judge_Daniel says:

I was wondering if this would happen.

MadSci2 says:

Clarification please.  Does this mean the Royalty is being eliminated or reduced.  The word "dropping" as used in this article is ambiguous.



neonspark says:

watch the presentation. they said ZERO DOLLARS.

cannon#WP says:

Engadget doesn't say it'll be royalty free, they said it's going to be FREE period. If that's correct then this is the BIGGEST news of the day, even trumping Cortana.


THIS is the move I've been screaming for them to do for a year now. This will get every OEM on board and will boost WP's marketshare much faster. Samsung, LG, HTC and the rest can essentially hop in and try to dominate this small pond. The barrier to entry now is such that you won't lose major money by taking a chance on WP8. Plus OEMs can start pumping out low cost & pre-paid devices that will blow away crappy low-end Androids because we actually have minimum hardware specs.


This has got me excited!

neonspark says:

you and every other WP fan who isn't a blind MSFT cheerleader. I rather see free windows everywhere including pcs, but I suppose this will show MSFT the way of free, is the way to marketshare. And nothing brings those apps we're missing faster than marketshare for the argument is won when windows becomes too expensive to ignore, not to own.

astraith says:

I think they have been waiting for this moment. Now that WP has every feature you could ever want, and more, getting more people on the Windows wagon now just seems right. Hopefully LG, Samsung and HTC make more WP's and push them more than Android. Why pay Microsoft to make a phone when you can just not pay them?

lsoneboy333 says:

Great to hear Microsoft is stepping up to google with this

neonspark says:

finally, I recall most people here fought the idea tooth and nail claiming MSFT shouldn't really do this because of a variety of assertions about the past that were nothing but denial. well, well well, crow is served, cold and with a nice side of humble dressing.

I'm glad MSFT finally sees the light. wp, free. it is the only way to go. but is it too late? I'm worried it is.

larspassic says:

A quad proc 256gb ram machine may not even have a screen, so do we get server datacenter for free?? ;)

Grand Hustle says:

dude,what r u working with??crack,kush, amph????

wtma says:

This should have been done since the initial release of WP8. But better late than never.

el-ojo says:

I really hope this helps. But at the same time, I feel that companies may want to make it their own, so they'll probably still use Android and push their services a la Amazon.

wtma says:

Android is and will still be very tied up to Google services. I think there's only a small number of OEM's that could come up with their own services using Android, and do it good. I doubt Android + non-Google services (ie. Nokia X) will give the best experience to users.

Boom goes the dynamite!

BataBole says:

Speaking of inches, will devices under 4.5 get the third column of live tiles?

ltjordan24 says:

If this doesn't increase global penetration, I don't know what will. Hopefully, OEMs will now be inclined to release WP8.1 on the same devices, at the same times, as their Android counterparts.