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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:40

Microsoft's new spin: Android isn't free


With patent lawsuits flying this way and that across the tech landscape, Microsoft has given the clearest hint yet that while it will litigate to protect patents in Google's Android operating system that it claims it owns, it is hesitant to take on Google.

Last week, Microsoft filed suit against Motorola, alleging that the latter infringes on patents owned by Microsoft in its Android phones.

The company has also tried to spin the tale that Android is not free because licensing fees are required to use patents owned by other companies.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told The Wall Street Journal in an interview: "Android has a patent fee. It's not like Android's free. You do have to license patents. HTC's signed a license with us and you're going to see license fees clearly for Android as well as for Windows."

The interview was meant to sell the virtues of the Windows 7-based handsets that Microsoft intends to launch next week

Microsoft will be charging licence fees for Windows 7 on handsets, which is why Ballmer is attempting to sell this tale.

Among the big technology companies, Microsoft is now seen as the most vulnerable. In the mobile market, it has no presence worth talking about; it is still dependent on its Windows and Office software to generate profits. All its ventures into new markets have yielded little success.

In the past, Microsoft's battles with Google have ended up with the latter grabbing every prize on display.

While it will be extremely interesting to see whether the spin that Android is not free will gain any traction and yield dividends, what will be even more interesting is Microsoft's next step if the strategy fails.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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