MWC 2014: Microsoft announces nine new Windows Phone partners, dual-boot with Android and low-end focus

Microsoft has announced nine new smartphone partners have signed on to build devices using its Windows Phone platform, with the company promising dual-boot Android devices as well as a new focus on low-end devices ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The company announced that Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer and ZTE have all signed on to build Windows Phone smartphones, in addition to existing partners HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung.

“Collectively, Windows Phone partners make up an impressive 56% of the global smartphone market, according to IDC,” Windows Phone vice president Joe Belfiore says in a statement.

The claim by Belfiore is misleading, however, as most of Microsoft’s smartphone partners also make devices running Google Android, and most of their combined market share comes from selling Android devices.

As SmartCompany has previously reported, Android devices make up 79% of the market – up from 68% a year earlier – with 785 million units shipped in 2013.

In absolute terms, this represents a far larger increase than Windows Phone, which only managed to ship 32.1 million units in 2013 (just 3% of the global market).

Aside from overstating Windows Phone’s market share, Belfiore has promised better support for low-end smartphones, improved integration between smartphone and desktop interfaces, and support for dual-boot devices as key focuses for the company.

“We’ll enable our partners to build lower cost hardware for a great Windows experience at highly competitive price points.

“We are making improvements to the user interface that will naturally bridge touch and desktop, especially for our mouse and keyboard users. We have a number of targeted UI improvements that keep our highly satisfying touch experience intact, but that make the UI more familiar and more convenient for users with mouse/keyboard.

“Speaking of our enterprise customers, we are also hard at work on delivering a compelling new update for Windows Phone that will add key features for consumers, as well as a big investment in enterprise customer capabilities, including VPN, S/MIME support, enterprise Wi-Fi, extended mobile device management and certificate management.

“We will also support soft keys and dual SIM where our partners want it for their devices. One nice benefit of these additions is that many hardware vendors will be able to use the same hardware for both Android and Windows Phone devices.”

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