UPDATE: As readers have pointed out in the comments below, the announcement of Windows Phone 8.1 adding support for Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE Android handsets is only for OEMs. I mistakenly assumed that Microsoft would be releasing Windows Phone 8.1 to consumers to flash to their own devices. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
Original story below:
Windows Phone, like iOS, is only available on select hardware. While Microsoft has licensed out Windows Phone to third-party OEMs, they have had to stick with restrictive hardware designs. With Windows 8.1, it’s getting a little less restrictive.
At Mobile World Congress, Microsoft announced that Windows 8.1 will support more hardware in the future. That means Android device manufacturers can load Windows Phone 8.1 onto their devices without having to change the hardware. Along with the announcement, Microsoft stated that it has added support for devices sporting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 200, 400 and 400 LTE chipsets.
Unfortunately, it looks like Microsoft doesn’t want you to have your cake and eat it too. It confirmed that dual-booting won’t be allowed so OEMs won’t be able to offer devices with both Android and Windows Phone. It’s a little unfortunate, but also understandable from Microsoft’s perspective as they hope those who try it out will want to stick with it.
With this news, it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft will be aggressively targeting Android users this year. Not only is it opening the Windows Phone platform to existing Android device manufacturers, but it’s also trying to bring Android users to Windows Phone through its new Nokia X platform.
Nokia X is a new line of smartphones that run a forked version of Android that strips out all things Google and adds Microsoft and Nokia services. It’s basically a version of Android that looks an awful lot like a Windows Phone and it’s intended for emerging markets.
As Microsoft continues to do well with Windows Phone in emerging markets, Nokia X and Windows Phone 8.1 may just help it steal some thunder away from Android. It probably won’t be much, but it’s growth and that’s all that really matters to Microsoft at this point.