MWC 2014: Microsoft introduces nine new Windows Phone hardware partners

Expanded partner base will lead to a wider range of screen sizes and price points for Windows Phone

Rebecca Gibson
Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson on 24 February 2014
MWC 2014: Microsoft introduces nine new Windows Phone hardware partners

Microsoft has joined with nine new hardware partners to develop its Windows Phone operating system.

In addition to HTC, Huaweu, Nokia and Samsung, Microsoft now has nine new Windows Phone partners including: Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer and ZTE. Collectively, Windows Phone partners account for 56% of the global smartphone market, according to research analysts IDC.

Through the partnerships, which were announced at a press conference before the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and include seven of the top ten original equipment manufacturers in the world, Microsoft customers can expect a new range of devices across screen sizes and price points.

Working with these partners, Microsoft aims to increase the flexibility of its hardware and to make the engineering process of building a Windows Phone easier.

To enable this, Microsoft will add support for Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 and 400 series chipsets, with options that can be used with all major cellular technologies. It will also work closely with Qualcomm Technologies to help global manufacturers quickly increase their portfolio by building Windows Phone devices through the well-established Qualcomm Reference Design (QRD) programme.

In addition, Microsoft will support soft keys and dual SIM for devices, which means that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.

To streamline the process of building a Windows Phone device, the company also launched the Windows Hardware Partner Portal, providing hardware partners with direct access to the tools and content needed to build and market their Windows Phone devices efficiently and cost-effectively.

Speaking at the press conference, Joe Belifore, corporate vice president and manager of Microsoft’s Windows Phone Program Management division, also shared some updates about Windows and Windows Phone.

According to Belifore, Windows Phone has experienced steady growth in recent years and the platform is now recognised as the fastest growing OS with 91% year-over-year growth in 2013. It also accounts for more than 10% of the market share across Europe, while the Windows Phone Store now offers more than 240,000 apps, with an average of 500 apps added each day.

In 2013, Microsoft delivered three updates to the Windows Phone platform by implementing new chipsets, new carrier and country support, and more screen sizes. This spring, the platform will gain new key consumer features, as well as enterprise customer capabilities, including VPN, S/MIME support, enterprise wi-fi, extended mobile device management and certificate management.

Belifore also highlighted the future developments planned for Windows on tablets and PCs, which will focus on making the Windows platform available on devices with different screen sizes, input methods, connectivity needs, and usage scenarios.

“We shipped Windows 8.1 in under a year in response to customer and partner feedback, and we’ll continue to refine and improve Windows to deliver a productive and delightful experience for all users on all devices,” said Belifore. “You’ll see us continue on a more rapid release cadence where we deliver ongoing value to all your Windows devices.”

This spring, Microsoft will release an update for Windows 8.1, enhancing support for enterprise customers via features that improve Internet Explorer 8 compatibility in Internet Explorer 11, and extending mobile device management capabilities. It will also release a number of targeted user interface (UI) updates that keep the touch experience intact, while making the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with a mouse and keyboard setup.

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