Microsoft has manage the unthinkable. They got Samsung, which is now not only the biggest Android phone manufacturer, but also arguably the best, to sign a patent license deal with Microsoft. This patent deal should give Microsoft tens of millions of dollars from a phone like the Galaxy S II alone if Microsoft managed to get $10-$15 per handset from Samsung, and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars or even billions a few years from now if they manage to do this to the whole Android ecosystem.
And that's exactly what Microsoft wants, which is why I don't think they actually made Samsung suffer from this deal. I think Samsung lost nothing out of this. Sure they'll have to pay these licenses to MS for Android phones, but let's not forget Samsung also makes WP7 phones, and Windows laptops. Would it be that hard for Microsoft to just say: " Here's what: you give us $15 per Android phone, we give you a $15 discount on every Windows license."
This way Samsung loses nothing, and Microsoft wins a lot. That's because the announcement of this deal causes a great deal of harm to the Android ecosystem, and it's not just psychological harm. It's real harm. Now that they got Samsung to pay up, Microsoft can much more confidently go after all the other manufacturers and ask them to pay up - all for free, no extra deals like I'm assuming they made with Samsung. So even if Microsoft gains no money from this deal, they will gain a whole lot later on later the other manufacturers.
What I'm not sure about is whether Microsoft is charging Samsung only for phones sold in USA or also all the global ones, too? And is it the same price? Because I don't think Microsoft has the same amount of patents globally as they do in USA. If they have much fewer patents outside of USA, then companies who sell mostly to Asia and Europe, don't have much to worry about, or at the very least they'll have to pay a much tinier amount to Microsoft.
What's Google to do with all of this? I'm not sure there's much they can do to actually protect those companies against Microsoft. Yes, they have all those new patents from Motorola and IBM, but either they'd have to sell some to each one of those companies getting attacked by Microsoft, or they have to assert them against Microsoft directly.
That means suing Microsoft for all the patents they can throw at them, and hope that Microsoft will give up and settle with them, and they won't go after Android manufacturers anymore. But that would be a battle of epic proportions and it could last years. Plus, Google's image might suffer from it if they start suing, even if the one they are suing is the original patent aggressor. But media is funny, they tend to side with the rival of the company they want to fail.
But one thing is clear. Microsoft is abusing the patent system here, because the technologies coming from the patents these companies are being forced to license, will never be used inside their products. The licensing happens only to protect against the lawsuit from Microsoft, and that's the real shame here. Patents now serve the incumbents to make money off any new entrant, and unless you have something like 10,000 patents when you start making a smartphone, then you'd better get ready to get extorted by all the patent trolls, including Microsoft.
I think these recent moves against the Android ecosystem will hurt Microsoft's image, and will get a lot of people who are now Android users to turn away from using Microsoft products, including Windows, once Android becomes mature enough.