Microsoft recently announced it would waive its Windows Mobile license fee for devices with screens smaller than nine inches. In particular, the move benefits device makers that include Indian handset vendors like Micromax, Karbonn, and Lava (Xolo).
Since then, there had been widespread speculation about Indian vendors launching their smartphones on Windows 8.1 until Micromax announced its Canvas WIN121 and WIN 092, while Lava came out with its Xolo Win Q900s
These launches raised questions about whether the devices will be able to expand Windows’ mobile OS share in India, where Android currently dominates.
Source: CMR monthly mobile handset market tracker
Going forward, I believe Microsoft Windows OS poses a challenge to Android’s dominance as more and more OEMs launch Windows-based devices.
For one, Windows 8.1 is by far the most impressive version of the Windows OS, bringing in some drastic improvements like greater start screen personalization, action center for notifications, word flow keyboard, Cortana, best-in-class imaging and maps, and bringing in popular apps on its platform. All these small but important improvements will enhance the user experience, especially for first-time buyers who are the primary target audience for India’s vendors.
Secondly, I believe all the basic apps that a first time or entry-level smartphone buyer needs are already there on Windows store. Apart from this, they will benefit from the built-in services from Microsoft like Skype, Office, Xbox, etc. Microsoft may be addressing a seeming lack of apps by holding various developers based campaigns and events, but I think this issue will be automatically addressed when Windows-based devices attain a critical mass and developers start prioritizing making apps for Windows OS.