Microsoft To Offer Windows For Free On Smartphones And Tablets, Universal App Development

Winds of change are surely blowing now that Satya Nadella has taken over the CEO role at Microsoft. During the company's BUILD conference this week, blockbuster news was announced regarding the pricing future of its most notable product: Windows. Going forward, Microsoft will make Windows free for phones and tablets, likely in a bid to better compete with Android and iOS. Both of those operating systems have monumental slices of market share in the mobile space, which Microsoft is seeking to infiltrate now that sales of laptops and desktops are sliding downward.

Up until now, Microsoft was charging device makers around $5 to $15 per device to use Windows, while Google has always allowed Android to be installed for free. And, of course, Apple's iOS is baked into the entire ecosystem price when purchasing an iPad or iPhone. As of now, Windows-based phones only account for 3% or so of global smartphones, while Windows is only on 2% of tablets in use. Clearly, something drastic needed to be done, and this is it.

It's a massive statement from Microsoft, essentially ceding the point that it's losing the market share war on the mobile front. But pricing isn't the only factor here. One of the major complaints with Windows Phone is a dearth of apps, and Microsoft's helping on that front as well.

It's opening up developer tools that'll enable them to build programs that work across the entire Windows landscape, even including phones, tablets, and the Xbox One console.