Recently rumors have surfaced that Microsoft is considering making Windows Phone and Windows RT free. There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Today’s OEM licenses come with marketing kickbacks that dramatically lower their price. Indeed one comment on Microsoft’s purchase of Nokia claimed they had to do it because they were giving Nokia more in marketing support per device than Nokia was paying in per-device license fees! So actually making the licenses free will come with a price, the OEM won’t get any market development funds from Microsoft.
Given that Microsoft/Nokia control over 90% of the market for both Windows Phone and Windows RT there is little financial downside to dropping the price to zero. Or it may be that “free” is just a technicality, the actual mechanism might be to charge OEMs a license fee but offer all of them 100% of the license fee in Market Development Funds. The latter better matches how Microsoft likes to do business, but the former might better appeal to some OEMs. Perhaps Microsoft will offer them a choice of licensing models.
The one thing that isn’t going to happen is for Microsoft to offer OS licenses for free and provide marketing support to the OEMs. TANSTAAFL.