Microsoft, Motorola may work on Windows Phone 7 device

Microsoft sued Motorola for infringing patents with Android phones, but the companies say they may work on a smartphone.

Just days after Microsoft sued Motorola for infringing its patents with Android phones, the two companies are now saying they might work together to build a smartphone based on the upcoming Windows Phone 7 OS. On October 11 Microsoft will unveil the first devices to run the Windows Phone 7 OS, from the likes of Samsung and LG, and reports indicate that Motorola will soon join the fray.

Microsoft alleged that Motorola's Android phones violated a number of its patents that "relate to key features that users have come to expect from every smartphone," a Microsoft executive said in a blog post. One of the theories that emerged afterward was that Microsoft was trying to show manufacturers that Android is free to licence, but comes at a much higher cost measured against legal fees from patent lawsuits. And that is, of course, as Microsoft is revving up to launch its shiny new mobile OS.

Speaking at a conference in Germany, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer reportedly said his company is "excited to collaborate with anybody who wants to collaborate with us" on making a device running Windows Phone 7 OS. Motorola's co-chief executive, Sanjay Jha, also said this week that he is open to developing devices that run Microsoft's new OS, despite the patent-infringement lawsuit filed days earlier.

Motorola is using the Android mobile operating system from Google exclusively on all its smartphones so far, a move that has been very successful for a company that was in financial trouble a couple of years ago. When he came to helm Motorola in 2008, Jha said in an interview he wanted to work with Microsoft on delivering a phone with Windows software, but when Microsoft failed to deliver its new OS in 2009, Motorola stuck with Android exclusively.

Now that Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS is ready, perhaps the Redmond giant's gentle lawsuit nudge would convince Motorola to rethink its Android exclusivity and make a Windows Phone 7 smartphone as well.

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Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)
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