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Windows Phone Battles Android with a Little Help From Some Friends

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It’s no secret that Windows Phone has been struggling mightily to even get into the same ring as iOS and Android, let alone actually compete with them. Well, as we found out at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft is doubling down on the platform by making it easier for Windows Phone to hit emerging markets.

Microsoft has partnered with nine new hardware companies – Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Karbonn, Lava (Xolo), Lenovo, LG, Longcheer and ZTE. Most of those might not be immediately recognizable, but together, those nine companies make up 56 percent of the global smartphone market – good bedfellows to have.

Microsoft also snatched up another key partner – Qualcomm. Windows Phone can now run on Snapdragon 200 and 400 processors – not the top-end processors, but they fit in nicely with the emerging markets that Microsoft is trying to target with these new hardware partnerships. On top of that, hardware makers will be able to make Windows phones using the Qualcomm Reference Design program. This, along with relaxed hardware requirements, means that hardware manufacturers don’t need to jump through extra, costly hoops to make Windows phones – the same phone that runs Android can now run Windows Phone. The barrier of entry to making Windows phones has been lowered significantly.

Dual SIM support is also coming to Windows Phone, along with another handy addition – Live Tiles for each SIM, so you can switch back and forth with ease. Also coming up is the Facebook Messenger app, which will finally see the light of day on Microsoft’s mobile OS.

None of the above are particularly exciting updates, but they’re the exact kind of updates that Microsoft needs. In order to get into the mobile game, Microsoft needs to take measured, low-risk steps that will ensure them greater market access, and they need more apps. That’s exactly what they’ve accomplished here, and it could lead to success – especially in the low-cost smartphone range – this year and beyond.