Microsoft may be one of the only remaining mobile operating-system providers that charges handset makers a licensing fee, but in exchange vendors get at least one important benefit: "protection from intellectual property worries". That could be one reason that Samsung, HTC and LG are willing to pay for Windows Phone 7, but it's not enough to convince other WinMo users, like Motorola, to commit to mobile OS. The fee could also reduce the number of models that handset makers build using the software.
Despite competition with iPhone and Andriod, Microsoft's the only major smartphone OS developer that charges for using software. Android and Symbian are both free. Palm, recently bought by HP, no longer licenses its OS to other manufacturers. Apple and Research In Motion have their own software.
Microsoft says there're some clear advantages for handset makers that pay for the OS. "Our hardware partners are lining up to deliver these phones because they know free is never really free," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "When you're creating a phone, the cost of licensing the OS is only the beginning, because there're plenty of other development costs."