Wi-Fi provider Boingo Wireless said today Microsoft will sponsor free Wi-Fi at locations in Manhattan and San Francisco from now through the end of the year. The effort will promote the launch this month of Windows 8 and Windows Store for Windows 8, in particular, by showcasing new apps via the program’s branded welcome screen.
Under the deal, Microsoft will sponsor Wi-Fi in six New York subway stations in the Chelsea neighborhood as well as hotspots in San Francisco at locations including Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, UN Plaza, the Financial District, and Nob Hill. Starting Nov. 1, the software giant will expand the initiative to more than 200 free Wi-Fi zones in Manhattan.
“At Microsoft, we know that amazing apps are being built in New York and San Francisco, and we want to give talented developers the chance to launch their businesses through the Windows Store,” said John Richards, senior director at Microsoft Corp., in a statement.
Sponsorship of Boing hotspots kicked off in June through a partnership with Google Offers to provide free Wi-Fi at 200 Manhattan locations until September. Last month, Boingo struck a separate deal for Google’s app storefront—Google Play—to sponsor free Wi-Fi at more than 4,000 locations nationwide through September.
Microsoft’s dearth of mobile apps compared to Apple’s App Store and Google Play is often highlighted as a reason why Windows Phone has failed to gain traction against iOS and Android in the smartphone market. Getting more developers to create apps for Windows 8, set to debut Oct. 26, would help the platform better compete with its larger rivals.