While Google appears to be relatively flexible when it comes to Android OEMs choosing their own hardware, Microsoft has adopted a stricter approach which typically required their manufacturing partners to follow a set of hardware guidelines, as well as to have their chosen hardware pre-approved by Microsoft before they would be released into the market. We cannot blame Microsoft for putting such a system into place as we’re sure they’re just trying to make the best Windows Phone experience possible, although at the same time it was also considered to be a barrier to entry to the Windows Phone market.
The good news is that things could start easing up for Windows Phone OEMs, thanks to Microsoft and Qualcomm working on a new reference design program which basically will allow manufacturers to get Windows Phone handsets onto the shelves as quickly as possible, with as little restrictions in the way. While Qualcomm believes that the reference design can be used to make any class of handset, they will most likely be used heavily in lower-cost products due to Qualcomm’s use of their 200 and 400 series of chipsets. In the meantime Microsoft themselves are trying to persuade manufacturers to adopt the design. We can only hope that this will result in more Windows Phone handsets which would help increase their market share.