Joining HTC, Acer, and a group of six other Android device manufacturers, Samsung has today agreed a licensing deal with Microsoft for the intellectual property the latter claims to have in Android. Part of a broader cross-licensing and partnership agreement, the move will result in Samsung paying royalties to Microsoft for smartphones and tablets running Google's supposedly free OS. The Redmond camp is understandably buoyed by this news, which marks perhaps its biggest victory in asserting its IP rights over Android, and we're reminded that Motorola Mobility is the only major Android manufacturer left not to have signed a licensing deal. Given that Google's agreed to buy Moto, that's as close as Microsoft has gotten to openly declaring a patent war against its software rival.
The pact with Samsung will also benefit Microsoft on the Windows Phone front, where the two companies have agreed to "cooperate in the development and marketing" of the new OS, starting with the brand new WP 7.5 (Mango). Finally, though specifics of the patent portfolio cross-licensing haven't been made available, the result is said to provide "broad coverage" for the products of each company.
Update: Google has responded in a statement to TechCrunch -- and it's not pretty:
This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation. We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners.
In other words, the icy relationship between Microsoft and Google isn't thawing any time soon.