Is Android Free? Microsoft Does Not Think So

Everyone is of the opinion that Google Android operating system is free. They do not charge a licensing fee and anyone is free to use it. So it is free right?

Well, Microsoft says not quite. According to Microsoft, Android has many hidden costs and if all these costs are combined Android cost more than Windows Phone 7. Incidentally Microsoft is charging $15 for each Windows Phone 7 license. Microsoft argues that their $15 license is a better deal for OEMs.

These are the reasons why Android is costlier than Windows Mobile 7 according to Microsoft are:

  1. OEMs are not using the stock Android build. All Android OEMs are bearing costs beyond free.
  2. Lawsuits over disputed Android IP have been costly for Android OEMs.
  3. The Android landscape is fragmented with all sorts of hardware. OEMs have to spend resources into developing drivers for these hardware.
  4. The update architecture of Android means that OEMs having to sink engineering resources into each and every Android update.
  5. Android OEMs need to pay for licenses for many must-have features that are standard in Windows Phone 7. For example audio/video codecs.
  6. Quality Assurance on Android devices are more expensive than Windows Phone 7 because Windows Phone 7 has automated testing.
  7. Creating equivalents of Zune, XBox LIVE etc. on Android devices will be costly.

There are some good points there. But I think some are flawed. For example, I do not agree with the first point. Yes many OEMs do not use the stock Android and that costs resources. But it is the OEMs which choses to customize it; Android (or should I say Google) is not forcing them to do it. It is called freedom – something which Microsoft will never understand.

What do you think? Do you think Windows Mobile 7 is cheaper than Android?


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Ricky Laishram

Ricky Laishram is a Linux and FOSS enthusiast. He is passionate about open source technologies and likes to keep abreast with the latest developments in KDE and Ubuntu. He also loves listening to music and is a huge Tegan snd Sara fan. You can follow him on twitter @ricky_lais.

  • Tony Smith

    Microsoft does not understand the concept of ‘free’. This is because the company has always promoted ‘free’ as ‘ulterior motive’ or ‘hidden cost’ to the end user. Open source, Freeware and the whole Google philosophy is so alien to Microsoft’s bottom line that historically, they try to 1. Ignore it 2. Dismiss it 3. Find a way to kill the competing product by FUD and/or other tactics. Andriod is cheaper than WM7 and it will prove a big thorn in their side.
    No-one can say that Microsoft will die, but they have to change.
    “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song”.

    • Yes I agree. This seems more like Microsoft’s usual FUD tactics.
      In the end, though, what matters is user adoption and Android already has a huge lead there.

  • I am pretty much open to Android OS, but we all need to have in mind that money is something that keeps the world spinning. Guys who made Android didn’t do it for fun or because it’s their hobby. And when I look back at past years, I can see that many free softwares are upgradeable and they have “stronger brothers” with more features.
    I never was demanding so I was OK with free software, but businessmen might have a different opinion.

    Does Android lack fancy features that payed OS have, I can’t say. I am fine with it the way it is.

    I can’t get off the feeling that this is just sand in the face from Microsoft because Google is becoming a new leader. Microsoft is not willing to share its piece of cake with another company. Or should I say, other companies…

  • zune lol that’s a must have!