Microsoft has reached out to HTC to see if the company would be interested in adding Windows as a second OS to its Android handsets, a new report by Bloomberg claims. It isn’t clear exactly how the two operating systems would share the handset, in terms of allowing dual-booting or making a user choose a default at device setup, but it’s a sign Redmond may be thinking about pulling out all the stops to get people using its mobile OS.
These talks are in very early stages, according to Bloomberg’s sources, and there’s a possibility that Microsoft may even reduce or eliminate its licensing fee for Windows Phone to make it more attractive to HTC. HTC seems to be a target because it’s a former partner that has already built both Windows and Android hardware (though it doesn’t seem to be too keen on delivering more on the Windows Phone side). Microsoft’s head of Operating Systems Terry Myerson is said to be heading to Taiwan to discuss the arrangement in further detail with HTC, says Bloomberg.
There are a couple of reasons this makes sense, including some information TechCrunch has heard about Microsoft and its organizational sentiment towards Android. First, HTC has been one of Microsoft’s few hardware partners for Windows Phone, and that relationship is likely strained given the Nokia hardware division purchase. Second, HTC is in a bad way in terms of continuing poor financial performance, and in terms of device sales, so it’s probably very willing to consider unorthodox models to help it gain some unique appeal for users.
As to what we’ve heard about internal feelings on Android at Microsoft, a source suggests that there are contingents of younger engineers at the company who pushed hard to have Android/Windows dual-booting on Surface tablet devices, so there’s a willingness to experiment with things very much like this HTC dual-OS smartphone. Those ideas, TechCrunch has been told, came from younger elements within Microsoft’s mobile engineering team, and were not embraced by the older, more established elements of senior management.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is leaving within the next year, he announced back in August, and there have been other big executive shifts at the company lately, too, including the departure of Xbox head Don Mattrick and Windows lead Steven Sinofsky. This may have changed the culture enough at Microsoft to allow some of the more radical new ideas to gain better purchase, which could result in an HTC device that lets users choose not one, but two mobile operating systems with one device buy.