Reuters reports that Microsoft plans to continue charging handset makers an estimated US$8 to US$15 licensing fee for its Windows Mobile operating system despite growing competition from royalty-free software offerings such as Linux, Google’s Android and Nokia’s Symbian. “We do,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told Reuters when asked whether his firm expects to stick with licensing fees. “We are doing well, we believe in the value of what we are doing.” Ballmer also took a swipe at his competitors: “Handset makers are sceptical of Nokia, operators are sceptical of Google, I think by actually charging money people know exactly what our motivations are.”

Ballmer’s decision to keep charging at a time of high-profile rival launch offerings, such as Google’s Android system unveiled last week via HTC and T-Mobile USA, may affect Microsoft’s aggressive ambitions to grow its market share. According to Gartner’s latest analysis, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform has a 12 percent share of the smartphone operating system market, far behind dominant leader Symbian (57.1 percent). BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion’s operating system is second with a 17.4 percent share.