Microsoft making it easy for phone makers to bring WP 8.1 to Android hardware

February 26, 2014
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Windows Phone 8

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We are starting to see a number of alternative mobile OSes that promise the ability to run on existing Android hardware. Some of these solutions make it relatively easy for Android end-users to flash a ROM that brings the new OS, other methods are meant for phone makers only. Microsoft revealed today that they are taking the second approach with Windows Phone.

When it arrives later this spring, Windows Phone 8.1 will be able to be loaded on to existing Qualcomm-based Android hardware, at least if you are a handset manufacturer that has a device based on Snapdragon 200, 400 or 400 LTE chips.

The goal is to make it easy for companies to take phones that were design with Android in mind and then slap Windows Phone onto them. Microsoft hopes this will tempt Android manufacturers to release Windows Phone versions of their budget-oriented Android devices. To make the idea of WP even more appealing, Microsoft is also reportedly getting ready to slash their licensing fee by as much as 70%.

In order to make putting WP 8.1 onto Android hardware as painless as possible, Windows Phone will now be able to use on-screen keys instead of the physical “Windows key”. Microsoft is also ditching the need for a physical camera button and will allow apps to be installed to SD cards.

For those of you that wouldn’t mind giving WP8.1 a try, Microsoft says that they will not be offering their software for loading onto devices that are already in the hands of consumers. Of course, we wouldn’t be too surprised if developer forums like XDA eventually offer a way around this — at least if there is enough consumer/developer interest.

What do you think of Microsoft’s plans to make porting Windows Phone onto Android hardware as easy as possible? Smart strategy or desperate move that will yield little result? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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