Microsoft has asked HTC to install Windows Phone as a user-selectable option on its Android handsets, according to a recent report.
The news comes from Bloomberg, which has been chatting to the omniscient "people familiar", who reckon Redmond was prepared to sacrifice its licence fee if HTC would include the OS as an option on its flagship hardware.
Microsoft is struggling to match the breadth of Google's offering and needs to work hard to convince the world that Windows Phone isn't just a Nokia thing.
HTC launched its last Windows Phone in June, and is expected to have another Redmond-mobe-OS-running handset on the shelves later this year, but it’s the Android-based HTC One which remains HTC's flagship. It's also the kind of kit which Microsoft execs would like to see running Windows Phone.
But Redmond has always been very strict on hardware profiles, insisting on "consistency" between Windows Phone devices, which has limited the phone-makers' innovation while creating a standard platform. That jars with Bloomberg's claims about MS wanting to offer the OS on Android hardware, which is technically possible but would represent a significant change of direction.
Not that Microsoft is above changing direction, and it might now be desperate enough to consider the possibility. HTC was a very early Microsoft partner, manufacturing the Microsoft-based O2 Xda a decade ago and pioneering the idea of integrated devices, but recently it has lost ground to Samsung (like everyone else).
Not that Samsung is out of the Windows Phone game – the company launched a couple of Microsoft-based devices this year, following its usual strategy of backing all the horses to ensure it has money on the winner.
With HTC and Samsung actively making devices, it would seem strange for Microsoft to give up its strict controls over the hardware, so these discussions are either at a very early stage – more brainstorming than formal proposal – or the world of Windows Phone is in even worse condition than it appears. ®