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Exactly How Microsoft Can Take Advantage of Apple's Patent Victory


Microsoft has been struggling to gain market-share with its Windows Phone, but will its distinctive design ease its endeavor?

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Microsoft's (MSFT) mobile division is no doubt excited about the results of Apple's (AAPL) patent suit with Samsung (SSNLF), as it gives Microsoft some space to move in on its rivals. The aftermath of the trial has given carriers and phone manufacturers the opportunity to pursue alternate operating systems (OS) to prevent further infringements on Apple's property. Many in the tech industry believe that Microsoft's unique design will spare the company from Apple's upcoming crack-down on copycats, but it's been the company's distinctiveness that has been part of what held it back in the first place.

Rather than relying on a square-like grid of icons that represent apps, Windows presents its users with interlocking tiles of different sizes. This difference may become more appealing to manufacturers looking for a safe haven for their production, but it is worth noting that the Windows design hasn't exactly clicked with consumers yet. According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, Windows accounted for just 3% of smartphone sales worldwide in the second quarter, up only 1% from the previous year.

Some have complained that the system isn't as intuitive as the iPhone's, which has become almost ubiquitous throughout the mobile market. Although its dissimilarity is becoming a strategic aspect, it has unfortunately led to the Windows Phone's biggest problem: A lack of apps.

This was originally part of the system's design; a streamlined approach was toted in its early commercials and most consumers who buy a Windows phone buy it for the bare necessities. But it is becoming obvious to Microsoft that adding more apps to its roster will aid the company in its fight to gain market-share. Although several developers have been reluctant to offer their services, or even accept Microsoft's offers for deals, Microsoft is becoming more aggressive in its app production so as to have interesting software available for its launch of the Windows 8 OS.

In the coming months, Windows will unveil a number of notable apps, such as versions of Zynga's (ZNGA) popular "Draw Something" and "Words with Friends" apps for the Windows Phone, and the full suite of basic apps for Windows 8. Microsoft also just released Skydrive, its first app for Android (GOOG), which allows users to upload and sync files to cloud storage and access them from a Web browser or local device. Also, Microsoft recently partnered with the University of Missouri to furnish a new lab for its students to experiment with and create new apps for the Windows 8 OS, which may help ease the company's worries about signing on developers.

Microsoft is also doing its best to innovate technology for the mobile market as well. Just yesterday, it announced a new capability for Windows Azure called Windows Azure Mobile Services, which will allow developers to add a cloud backend to their Windows 8 application, with support for the Windows Phone, IOS, and Android in development. Microsoft also just secured a patent on a new stylus pen that is supposedly so revolutionary in its changes to functionality that the company is changing the name to "ePen."

All in all, from appealing to developers to creating its own software and hardware, Microsoft is doing all it can to raise its presence in the mobile market. In time, the company hopes to increase the software offerings to its devices, which should earn it some popularity with consumers, while Android and Samsung are trying to reorganize their designs. Microsoft knows it has a golden opportunity to strike at its rivals, and it doesn't seem likely to let it pass by.
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