Microsoft's operating systems head Terry Myerson is reportedly considering making the company's struggling device operating systems, Windows Phone and Windows RT, available to device makers free of charge.
The move would come in response to the withering competition in the device market from Apple with iOS and Google, with the open source and free to use Android operating system. Microsoft, in contrast, has sought to licence its operating system in a similar manner to the way in which its desktop operating system has traditionally been licensed.
With the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft, the main source of Windows Phone licence revenues will disappear - Nokia licensed Windows Phone in 2011 as part of a broader deal that involved "platform support payments" and payments to cover a patent cross-licensing deal going in the other direction. These broadly cancelled each other out.
The shift in plans would be underwritten by ad and subscription licence revenue from sales of Microsoft's apps and services instead.
"Microsoft has been experimenting with ads in Windows 8 apps, and any associated revenue from those apps and the company's built-in Bing search results would help offset the lack of license fees," continued The Verge.
Other reports have suggested that Myerson has promised to reduce Windows Phone licence fees for HTC if it loaded Windows Phone onto the company's Android devices.
However, Windows Phone and Windows RT are more restricted in terms of the hardware that they operate on than Android and there are also question marks over the freedom that Microsoft would grant device makers to modify the operating system to suit the hardware they want to run it on.
The introduction of the changes would coincide with the proper return of the "Start" menu to Windows 8 - not just a link to the start screen.
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