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Summary:

Now that Microsoft has eliminated the cost of Windows licensing on devices smaller than 9-inches, expect more handset makers to try out the software in new phones. Micromax is doing just that with a pair of low-cost handsets for India.

Micromax Windows Phone

Micromax, which previously sold Google Android phones, is expanding its handset line with its first Windows Phone handsets. A pair of new phones were announced on Monday for India, where relatively few consumers have migrated to a smartphone. The new phones are aimed at the budget-conscious, costing approximately $108 and $158 each off-contract at retailers across India.

Micromax Windows Phone

The Micromax Canvas Win W121, shown above, is the more expensive of the pair, with a few higher-end features than the less costly model. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 on a 5-inch HD IPS screen outside and an entry-level Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 quad-core chip inside. The rear camera is 8 megapixels and has an LED flash, while the front camera is 2 megapixels. Micromax includes 8 GB of user storage that can be expanded with up to 32 GB more on a microSD card.

For $50 less, consumers can opt for the Canvas Win W092, which has a smaller, 4-inch WVGA display but is still an IPS panel. The camera sensors drop off with 5 megapixels on the back and a scant 0.3 megapixel camera on the front. But the phone also uses a Snapdragon S200 processor that is paired with 1 GB of memory — plenty to run Windows Phone 8.1 comfortably, based on my experience with a low-cost Lumia 520.

Both phones have dual-SIM capability so the handsets can be shared between two numbers. That’s helpful for families or those who prefer to keep work and personal phone use separate.

The phones will compete against the $159 Lumia 630 — not to mention a likely cheaper 530 model in the near future — and also low-cost Android phones. The latter is likely the bigger challenge because there are plenty of cheap Android phones in the region. Part of the reason is that there’s no cost to use Android, although there is a cost to license Google’s apps. So Microsoft’s recent decision to eliminate the licensing fees for some Windows Phone partners could help offset Android’s momentum in India.