MS to make Windows free for smartphones

Dylan Bushell-Embling
03 Apr 2014

Microsoft is stepping up its efforts to establish Windows Phone as a viable alternative to Android, announcing plans to abolish license fees for smartphones and smaller tablets, and introducing its own digital assistant for the platform.

The company will make Windows free for companies making smartphones and tablets with screen sizes below 9 inches, Reutersreported. The company had previously been charging vendors between $5 and $15 per device.

Microsoft made the announcement at its annual Build developer conference in San Francisco The company also used the event to showcase Windows 8.1, which has new functionality including a digital assistant named Cortana.

Cortana, named after the AI character from Microsoft Studios' flagship video game series Halo, will launch in the US, UK and China in 2H14.

Microsoft said Cortana is designed to improve over time by asking questions based on a user's behavior. Like Siri and Google Now, Cortana has voice control and can be interacted with via text commands. It integrates with the Bing search engine.

Windows Phone 8.1 also adds a centralised location for notifications called Action Center, and updated version of Microsoft's Skype app that promises better integration with the call screen, a revamped on-screen keyboard that adds swipe support, and a handful of other updates.

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