Join Date:Joined: Feb 2011
Phones <9", no? In any case, phones were explicitly mentioned as free. Even before now, it was leaked that a couple of regional carriers in India got WP for free, which means the multinational vendors obviously had the same (or better) deal.
And even before that, it was blatantly obvious that with Nokia's monopoly of the WP market, which is now part of MS, no vendor would bother playing unless the entry cost was zero (or better). Note that WP has now abolished physical spec requirements, allowing vendors to repurpose their Android models for WP with minimal effort.
BTW, "full" Windows is a moving target, so don't take it as gospel. From the grapevine, future Win will bifurcate into two base SKUs, one with desktop and one without (nee Windows RT). Reportedly these will be platform-agnostic, ie x86 will also sport a sans-desktop version, and what was previously RT will simply be the ARM port but without the branding. "Free" Win can conceivably be only for the sans-desktop version, ie for consumption-only devices, while productivity devices (10"+) will still sport the MS tax.
But that's in the future (read: Win9). Yes, for this year, free Win will mean the "full" x86 Win that is being shoehorned into mini-tabs. This isn't out of generosity, but because it's all MS has at the moment to push mobiles with.
All this is subject to change. How much of Win will be free will likely depend on adoption rate of 8.x this year. If it continues to crater, then MS can step up the freebies to offset. If adoption picks up, MS can tighten the gift bag.
The point? Selling Windows on mobiles, what else? MS first effort, in pushing premium hardware like Surface and expensive 2n1's, has flopped like a fish. The second try is predicated on low price, starting with the ill-fated $300 8" tabs. That didn't fly either, so now comes the last-ditch effort of "free."
We'll see how well OEMs bite. New product intros coming in late summer & fall should be good indicators. HP's response in particular will be noteworthy.