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Microsoft to offer free Windows Mobile 8.1 to Dubai OEMs

Vendor to work with local OEMs in the tablet and smartphone segment

Banerjee says Microsoft is developing the local OEM ecosystem in the mobile space.
Banerjee says Microsoft is developing the local OEM ecosystem in the mobile space.

Software giant Microsoft Gulf has launched its long awaited mobile strategy for the Middle East region, which will see the company work with local OEMs in the mobile space.

The new strategy will see Microsoft offer free Windows Mobile 8.1 for smartphones and tablets that are 9-inch and below for free to all white label brands in the local ecosystem that make consumer products. In addition, Microsoft said the devices will also be offered with free Microsoft Office 365 for one year.

The Windows Mobile initiative follows Microsoft Corp's aggressive global moves to compete in the mobile space, including licensing Windows Mobile for free on consumer tablets and smartphone devices that are 9-inches and below.

Addressing members of the Dubai Computer Group (DCG) at the two-day expo, Saibal Banerjee, OEM Distribution and Reseller lead, Gulf Consumer Group at Microsoft Gulf, said that although the company was late to get into the tablet and smartphone sector, Microsoft today is the only vendor that has one Windows OS for different computing form factors. "We have one OS for tablets, smartphones, phablet, convertibles, notebooks, desktops and all-in-ones," he said. "We were late to get involved, but we have always been the ‘smart second' that has benefited from avoiding pitfalls that early technology adopters have encountered."

Banerjee said the aim of the initiative is to work with established Dubai OEM brands and build an ecosystem of tablets and smartphones brands that originate from the Middle East. "For the first time in the region, we will be working with local OEMs in the tablets and smartphone sector to bring to the regional market ultra low cost to premium devices that run Windows 8.1," he said.

Banerjee explained that Microsoft has teamed up with Qualcomm and has developed a new reference design programme, which supplies the baseline hardware, optimised software and even development tools and content to get new Windows phones on to store shelves quickly. "We will support local OEMs that sell the Windows range of smartphone and tablets through retail by incentivising all retailers that make the commitment," he said.

He said Microsoft sees huge penetration rates of Windows mobile devices and that's why the company wants to develop the local channel ecosystem. "We are already working with Touchmate and Asbis with its private label brand Prestigio," he said. "We will be extending this initiative to other local OEMs provided they meet the selection criteria."