Microsoft has selected Opera Mini as the default web browser for its existing feature phones and Asha phones portfolio – a product line that is unlikely to see much more attention from the computing giant in the future.
To this end, the deal seems to make some sense: Microsoft will no longer need to maintain and developer the Xpress browser it acquired as part of the Nokia deal, while users will have access to up-to-date internet software from a company dedicated to its cause.
Following Microsoft’s recently-announced reorganisation – and swingeing job cuts that will accompany it – it was widely reported that Microsoft will place its feature phone and Asha lines into a ‘maintenance mode’, with little further development as the products live-out their lives.
It had previously positioned the products as an “on-ramp” for Microsoft’s internet services.
In a statement, Rich Bernardo, head of the hardly forward-looking ‘legacy business, Phones’ at Microsoft, said: “We continue to sell and support classic first and feature phones as well as the Asha range, which have performed well with millions of people who want new mobile experiences at lower price points”.
Under the terms of the new deal with Opera Software, existing device users will be encouraged to upgrade to the latest Opera Mini browser, while new devices will see it pre-installed.
Opera Software said that there are currently around 250 million users of Opera Mini, with more than 100 million of these being Android smartphones.