Apple Inc's decisive triumph over Samsung Electronics in the most closely watched patent trial in years could open the door for Microsoft Corp to finally hop on board the mobile boom as manufacturers of Android-based smartphones and tablets weigh their legal risks.
Microsoft sounded a challenge to Apple and Samsung in July when it took the wraps off its Surface tablet, a showcase for the revamped Windows software that it hopes will pave the way for its entry into the mobile space.
It remains to be seen if the new touchscreen-friendly and cloud computing-ready Windows 8 can prove a serious rival to Android, the world's most-used mobile software, or Apple's iOS. But mobile industry executives who had been cautiously considering Windows as an alternative to Google's Android say Friday's ruling that Samsung had copied Apple's designs and software features had intensified their interest in a Microsoft alternative.
The key reason: fear of patent lawsuits from Apple.
"Some of the other manufacturers of Android products like ourselves are prepared to face similar lawsuits from Apple," a senior executive with a major Chinese mobile maker told Reuters on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, Asian manufacturers now need to invest in further customisation of the Android platform, much as Amazon.com Inc has done with its Kindle Fire device, industry officials say.
ZTE and Huawei, China's two largest handset makers, declined comment. Both have announced plans to launch Windows-based phones to supplement their Android products.
Manufacturers may also look at other mobile operating systems beyond Windows, analysts said. Samsung, for example, also has phones that use proprietary software called Bada.