back to article Microsoft's FUD goes mobile

HTC has agreed to pay Microsoft a royalty when it sells a mobile phone running Google's Android operating system. But why does Microsoft make money from Google's software? Android is based on open source software - and Microsoft has long raised fears that aspects of Linux may infringe on its patents. The deal with HTC is …


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  1. BigRedS

    I _really_ don't see the point

    If these claims are founded in genuine truth, surely the cost to hire the legal team required to get Microsoft to say which patents in particular are breached by which bits of code is likely to be substantially less than whatever they're paying MS through this agreement?

    Confident though I am that there's no real patenty claims to Linux from MS (mostly based on MS not wanting to say which patents or which code), I can't help but wonder why all these otherwise reasonably intelligent companies are willing to pay MS for the right to not use MS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Gates Horns


      I doubt the patents will be relating to code or really much to do with linux. I'd imagine it'll be an idea for controlling something through touch, although it's hard to imagine WinMo having an idea in that arena.

      Perhaps HTC are waiting to see if Windows 7 Phone or whatever it's called is going to take off - if it doesn't, expect to see this going to court toot sweet. If it does, they might swallow the M$ tax.

      I feel dirty for having an android phone now...

    2. Raumkraut
      Thumb Down

      Pure Microsoft spin?

      I suspect this is another case of Microsoft making bold claims about a small sub-clause which had little to do with the main purpose of the agreement.

      From the CNET article:

      "Microsoft and HTC announced they have inked a new patent deal that specifically provides the Taiwanese cell phone maker with the right to use Microsoft's patented technologies in phones running Google's Android operating system."

      Doesn't say there that Android infringes any of MS's patents.

      The truth is that HTC need a license to use MS patents because HTC produce MS handsets. I'm sure HTC wouldn't mind very much if MS added language to say that the license covers _all_ of HTCs handsets. Then MS can go about saying that they licensed those patents for Android handsets. Which, technically, they did.

      Typical MS bluster. They talk a lot of talk, but refuse to back it up when challenged.

  2. Jim T

    I love software patents

    It's just so cool that you can get paid for software that other people make, sell & support.

    It's even better that you get keep all the agreements secret so that no-one can even pretend to work around you.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I feel like a bowl of petunias

    When will Microsoft put up or shut up? How can they simply keep stating that Linux infringes their patents without actually providing proof?

    Also why go against HTC - why not go against Google? Come on Ballmer, if you really have any balls go for Google.... dig out those patents (valid only in the US of course) and prove it.

    Maybe its time for Google to step up to the plate and tell MS to stop threatening its customers. Aren't protection rackets illegal in the US?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias was, 'Oh no, not again.'"

  4. SynnerCal

    Like the icon says

    Way to go HTC - support MS's FUD campaign. :(

    That said, I was expecting something like this when Win7Mob was announced, although it would have been better (arguably) for MS to try going for the iPhone rather than the easier (?) option of Android.

    If Google have any sense at all then they MUST deal with this threat to Android as a matter of priority, or else it's destined to fail.

  5. Neil_

    Pick on little HTC...

    What about the Nexus One?

    Not trying to pick on bigger boy Google, then...

  6. Thom Brown

    Oh great

    So when I finally come to getting myself an Android phone, I'll have to avoid HTC.

  7. amlendu kumar

    But why?

    They should diectly threat Google. Why beat the small fries ?

  8. AndyS


    "...address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform."

    "We're not making any money off it."

  9. frymaster


    For a start, I bet it's that long-filename-on-FAT-filesystem patent, for the SD card reader

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bold move

    Given how weak the first release of WM7 is going to be, Microsoft might wise to not cheese HTC off too much, lest they decide to focus all their efforts on Android and ignore WM7 for now. In order for WM7 to be a success, I think Microsoft need HTC more than the other way around.

  11. xpert_con


    Microsoft can see that they are going down. So they try as hard as they might to squash and kind of competition by saying "you stole my idea". Surely if patents were infringed in Linux it would be gone quicker then you can say BYE. and seen as android is the same I don't foresee there being any real infringements just the vole using scare tactics.

  12. Roger 7
    Gates Horns

    How about the Nexus One?

    I hope MS sues Google over the Nexus One. I bet they don't have the nerves to do so.

    Why doesn't the EU or the US DOJ sue them for opening up on these false claims?

  13. aldude
    Thumb Up

    It's OK

    In before the anti-MS and anti-patent nutters, hopefully:

    This is acceptable practice - MS have patents that are probably infringed by the Android OS, so they're just licensing them to companies who want to use the technology. What's wrong with that?

    People ought to be grateful that MS didn't just bring out an injunction against use of Android at all!

    1. paulf

      Bring on the injunction

      If MS did get an injunction on Android (as a proxy for Linux) or HTC for selling Android handsets then Google would have to get involved as they would have to defend Android or completely abandon their Mobile OS. Then this could all be played out in public; and MS would finally have to tell the world which of its patents it reckons are violated by Linux. A Court could decide one way or the other and finally put all this FUD crap to bed!

      Not a MS hater, nor a Nutter. XP/Mac/Android user. But if they're so bothered about so called patent violations explain what patents are being violated (patents are published so its not like its an NDA risk) then if there is any violation, peeps have a chance to remove any inadvertent infringement or get a licence.

      I'm with the guy who spoke about protection rackets being illegal. And also the guy who said that MS probably needs HTC more than HTC needs MS - Not sure I can think of any other handset manufacturers who've done as much to push WinMob as HTC. Perhaps HTC should have bought Palm for WebOS, and ditched WinMob consigning the latter to a quicker funeral.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "anti-patent nutters"?

      "This is acceptable practice - MS have patents that are probably infringed by the Android OS, so they're just licensing them to companies who want to use the technology. What's wrong with that?"

      It's bullshit, that is the wrong. They don't have and they _know_ they don't have any.

      Also it's not "acceptable practise". Everyone claiming that somebody break their patents name the patent and how it is broke. Otherwise it's just FUD and blackmailing.

      If they can't do that, 10 years to life prison for abusing nonexistent patent, blackmailing and lying to public in form of FUD. Personal sentence, CEO and couple of most guilty persons, at least 5.

      As a pro-patent nutter you are even worse than those who are against patents, do you really think that patens were invented for blackmailing tools? Do you?

      Blackmailing as itself is serious crime, why doesn't it apply to corporate entities at all?

  14. Volker Hett

    Proabably FAT for SD Cards mostly

    They got TomTom with that

    1. The BigYin

      Which is why... shouldn't use FAT. Simples.

      (One can install the ?FS drivers along with one's Windows integration client)

      1. Goat Jam
        Gates Horns

        While I do agree

        The fly in that ointment is that while it might be fine for my flash card to be formatted with UberFS3K(tm) with the appropriate drivers on my PC but what happens when I take my UberFS3K(tm) flash card over to my mates place and he doesn't have drivers for it?

        There are technical solutions of course, such as a small FAT16 partition on each UberFS3K(tm) flash card that holds the UberFS3K(tm) drivers which can then be installed on my mates PC but then maybe my mate doesn't want me installing random crap on his PC. What if it is a virus or something?

        It's not as simple as just using a FS that requires a driver be installed which is why MS is so busy leveraging their monopoly in the PC market to extort payments from totally unrelated industries.

        The only way to avoid this issue is for every manufacturer of kit that uses flash cards which can be plugged into PC's to agree on and adopt a standard, royalty free FS and use the driver approach. Once a critical mass is reached (almost everyone already has the driver on their PC) then the problem will be solved. MS will be left belatedly having to integrate the open FS support into Windows just to maintain the appearance that their OS has wide compatibility with lots of devices.

  15. abigsmurf
    Paris Hilton

    Reaching much?

    This kind of speculation when zero information has been given is pointless.

    It could be Microsoft cashing in their linux patents

    It could be them licensing stuff like FAT32

    It could be anything

    Writing an article based on so little information is like responding to a press release from the police saying they have found a body in London by writing "A body has been found... could the queen have been murdered?!?!"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What patents?

    Such deals should be banned, unless the patents involved are disclosed so that the community can address claimed infringements.

    Not to mention that patents on software and programming methods are bull. Imagine a patent on the basic construct of a novel, or on basic musical techniques. Ridiculous.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Up to their usual tricks...

    For anyone that asks about anti-trust, this is more or less what Microsoft were convicted of WRT Windows. If I were HTC, I'd dump WinMo PDQ! Microsoft are more or less out of this market segment, why bully what partners that you have left? It doesn't matter how good WM7 looks, if no-one is prepared to make the hardware it's a lame duck! Do the decent thing HTC, dump Windows Mobile and Microsoft.

    Anonymous, 'cause you know that the shills, fanboys and astroturfers will have a go...

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Ok then cross HTC off my list of possibles

    I'm looking for a replacement mobile and was considering one of the HTC phones running Android. Not any longer. My ancient Nokia 3310 is about to give up the ghost.

    When will some manufacturer have the balls to standup to Microsoft's protection racket. That is what it is. pure and simple.

    If one did standup and call their bluff then they would become an instand FOSS hero (no pun intended)

    But hey, the lawyers for these mobile makers are happy. The endless merry-go round of lawsuits

    is keeping them in fast cars for another few years.

    TUX rules ok (unless Microsoft say no...)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like a good old fashioned extortion racket.

    It would've been a much stronger move of HTC to drop their windows mobile lines instead.

  20. Peter

    lost sale

    Just cancelled my HTC Desire order off the back of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      DING! - *Bullshit detected*

      No you fucking didn't.

      1. Rex Alfie Lee

        Mr Cowardly Anonymous

        Some people actually do take notice of these things. Though I am not the person who wrote the previous msg I feel exactly the same way. Luckily mine is a Motorola. M$ doesn't really want to go down the avenue of screwing a supported American company but I'm just lucky that my choice left HTC out.

        I believe that there is UNIX software in M$ code & that if challenged M$ would do everything in its power to stop the software being seen. Theirs is bluff based on Ballmer's crap. Take them on IBM, Motorola, Novell, Redhat etc...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yep, bet you did... Get real.

  21. Dr. Mouse

    Bored now

    I am simply bored of this now.

    Note to Microsoft: put up or shut up. If you have valid patent claims, tell us what they are. If you don't, FOAD!

    That is all.

  22. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!


    Oh FFS!

  23. Anonymous Coward

    re: lost sale

    That's a pretty stupid thing to do.

    Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face. The Desire is the best handset out there (not just the best Android Handset either, the best full stop).

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone who claims that they've cancelled or changed their mobile order because of this..

    .. is either a liar or an idiot. Not getting a handset that you want because it'll mean MS get a few cents out of it is idiocy. Cutting your nose off to spite your face etc..

    1. gerryg

      Please excuse my French, but bollocks

      I was thinking N900, (July 2010, since you care) I was flirting with HTC, problem is now solved.

      Yes, it is exactly because of the few pence that will go to Microsoft.

      To quote another American

      "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"

      You may choose to pay a neighbourhood tax to keep your restaurant open. I prefer Free Software and to support those that support it.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Do not get an N900 (Can we have flashing lights icons)

        The Register review was a poor review. You would be more of an idiot to go down that road. It is filled with complaints, begging forums and hating Nokia with all you can, for releasing such a dire piece of hardware.

        The N900 is seriously a huge pile of steaming turd, and to anyone thinking of getting one read the forums. (Ignore the fanbois)

        It can't MMS (send or receive), it can't mail sync, it can't mail for exchange, can't assign ringtones to contacts, conversation view only, it can't use the on board video camera for video calling (no software to run it) it doesn't tell you if you missed a call, or got an SMS (you need an app). Build quality on the charge socket is dodgy, phone voume is poor (software bug) file manager is poor (can't double click to load) poor music player, no app store. No sat nav, no geolocation (Ovi maps is poor) no voice direction stuff, Keyboard is badly designed. (Headphone jack sticking into your palm) The kinetic scrolling is twitchy, no word editor yet available for the platform, free or otherwise. Win7 doesn't like it (Ubuntu and XP loves it) Nokia have pulled the plug on Maemo, in favour of Meego, support as a result disappeared.

        It truly is the shockingly awful and Ebay prices are plummeting, I can't even get half what I paid for mine. Get the HTC desire, I wish I had.

        Otherwise, Booo on HTC for being a sell out. (I would still get an HTC desire.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      100% agree.

      1. M$ bully HTC into giving them money

      2. ........

      3. You refuse to buy HTC again, despite it being the best.

      Please explain your reasoning here, I'm flummoxed. There's a step missing.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

        Quite simple really

        Let's make a parallel:

        1. Cuba and the US have a few geo-political disagreements.

        2. ........

        3. The US refuse to buy cuban cigars again, despite them being the best.

        Do you understand point 2 a bit better now?

  25. Bruno Girin

    Chicago, 1920s?

    Pay us this protection fee and nothing bad will happen to you (i.e. we won't come after you with our patent portfolio). Mmmm.... somehow I've heard a similar logic before.

  26. OffBeatMammal

    Is this about Android, or Sense on top of Android?

    the article doesn't specifically mention Android as being where the patent lies. Remember HTC create theor own software - Sense for the UI (on both WinMo and Android powered phones) as well as other add-ons

    rather than assume this is MS attacking Android perhaps this is about features/funtionality in Sense (Exchange Sync for instance)

  27. Kelvari

    This is sickening....

    It's situations like this that make me want to vomit in a box and mail it to MS's HQ. This has got to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. It'd be like saying "You can sell Ford cars, but you have to give 10% of your profit to Chevy." Why? Does Microsoft own Google? Last I checked, no. Does Microsoft own Android? Again, no. Does Microsoft own Linux? They claim to, but without knowing what patents they're saying are being infringed upon, I'd have to say no again. HTC really should've grown a pair and stood up for themselves.

    I'm with the others here that say that HTC is now off of their list as a possible handset. I wasn't even in the market right now, but when I do start looking, I know which ones I won't be looking at, or sure.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      FUD again

      "HTC really should've grown a pair and stood up for themselves."

      Unfortunately HTC wants to continue selling phones with MS-OS.

      That's why they do as MS says and this "agreement" is pure theather for the public. As noted elsewhere, HTC is getting the rights to use MS patents on _MS-OS-based phones_.

      They'll need that.

      Not to Android, but funnily not HTC neither MS says that: So, PR-bullshit again, meaning: FUD.

      1. Tom King 2

        M$ says it covers Android directly

        The patent agreement covers "HTC’s mobile phones running the Android mobile platform," and "expands HTC's long-standing business relationship with Microsoft," states Microsoft.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Money may not change hands

    It's possible that no money will change hands on this deal; it could be, as some have suggested, that HTC are licensing the FAT32 technology from Microsoft, but will "pay" by cross licensing mobile technology which HTC has patents for back to Microsoft. Similar to the TomTom deal.

    This may just be the Microsoft publicity machine spreading FUD over android on the back of a perfectly normal licensing agreement.

    HTC are forced to play this game as they currently spend more on R&D than lawyers, and can't afford to go through the US courts against Microsoft; are Microsoft now going after Motorola or Samsung?

    I feel sorry for HTC, they're being picked on by US corporations as an easy target; don't boycott HTC though, maybe one day the boot will be on the other foot.

  29. sisk
    Gates Horns

    Good grief

    You know, the Linux community has been saying "Tell us which patents and we'll work around them" for years. There really outta be a law that if you tell someone they're stepping on your patents you have to tell them which ones. Seems to me that Microsoft is just pulling a schoolyard bully routine. "Give me your milk money or I'll beat you up" isn't that much different from "Give us royalties we don't deserve or we'll sue you".

  30. Rex Alfie Lee

    Take M$ on...

    I believe that Microsoft has a litany of copied software in its ranks & with a gentle shove in the right direction all of M$s huff & puff could be whisked away. They don't want any of this to go to court bcoz if it did they would have to reveal their own software & the reason they don't want to do this is if they get challenged themselves. Ballmer is a buffoon & relies on bluff. Someone soon, please take M$ on. IBM, Novell, Redhat, Ubuntu...please...

  31. Jemma

    So let me get this right....

    HTC are about the only player to stick with MS Disaster Mobile while everyone else is canning it... and in gratitude MS are shafting their one remaining supporter when they turn to android handsets to make ends meet...

    This is nothing to do with patents - its a contract lockout is what it is - HTC stuck with MS WinMobile on the simple proviso that if they didnt all sort of MS contract BS comes into play ... odd how no one is investigating MS for improper business practices.... then again it is the states....

    And as for Stevie "honk if I'm spouting bullshit" Ballmer - hes lead exec of a company that based itself on nicking a product that was based on a nicked product that was based on something that didnt work - and then he did it again - and thats if you are feeling well disposed to MS and dont mention that which was Netscape... and he whines about Android??!

    Microsoft should be prohibited from producing any new software or OS for 10 years - just allowed to support and update what they have, might mean in a decade they would come up with something new - the only reason they are allowed to get away with this is that half of the world runs (and generally loathes) some flavour of win-dross... any other company and they would be cheesed ( like creamed only it goes on longer and the lawyers fees are higher)... SCO anyone?...

  32. Majid

    probably a one dollar deal.

    To fool people into not buying htc android phones, because they would be giving Microsoft money. Seems a lot of posters above are falling for it.

    I can't believe Microsoft would really put the tumbscrews on the one company that is making the best windows mobile phones out there..

    So my one dollar bet, is on the one dollar deal!

  33. Matt Hawkins


    Boycotting HTC because of this agreement is just stupid.

    Avoid HTC is you want. Go and buy a Nokia Nzzzzzzzzzz or whatever they are giving out in cereal packets these days. If you want to boycott something boycott the iphone which can only run something if Steve Jobs decides it can ... which changes on a daily basis.

    The HTC Desire still beats everything on the market at the moment.

  34. Argh

    HTC deal

    It does seem strange that MS would screw over one of their biggest supporters.

    I wonder if this is related to Apple suing HTC. Possibly MS are going to provide some legal backup in exchange for these patents? Perhaps some of the Apple patents overlap with some of the MS ones and now HTC can say they've already licensed them?

    If not, I would think that the rabid Reg commentards would be happy that MS is upsetting one of the biggest suppliers of WM devices, as having a partner that treats them badly is sure to affect the likelihood of HTC pushing WP7 devices in the future.

  35. Kevin Bailey

    Makes me want to *support* HTC

    HTC are being bullied by MS lawyers. Personally, I wouldn't be put off buying an HTC handset - in fact they need our support.

  36. The_Police!


    Getting paid for something you did not put any effort in!

    Is there an app for that?

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