Microsoft's deal with Xiaomi over Windows 10 raises eyebrows

Microsoft will preview Windows 10 to select Xiaomi phone users

Microsoft will let select Xiaomi users test out Windows 10 on their phones.

Microsoft will let select Xiaomi users test out Windows 10 on their phones.

Microsoft could be trying to chip away at Android's dominance in its deal with Xiaomi to test the new Windows 10 operating system.

The US software giant has announced that select users of Xiaomi's Android phones will be able to download a Windows 10 Technical Preview to their handsets, and offer feedback to Microsoft. The software giant is creating a custom Windows 10 build that can be loaded on the phones.

Xiaomi has said it's only an "experimental program" and not a commercial partnership.

The program will target "power users" already adept at using their devices to install custom Android ROMs, also known as firmware. Following the announcement, Xiaomi's online forum said it would release the Windows 10 pack soon.

Microsoft declined to elaborate on the Windows 10 preview by Xiaomi users. But it could be a sign of how the company plans to infiltrate Android's user base.

"After all, Microsoft's end game is to have its services on more and more devices irrespective of the underlying platform, and China is a key market," said Kiranjeet Kaur, an analyst with research firm IDC.

In China, like in other markets, the Windows Phone OS has not been widely adopted. Wednesday's partnership with Xiaomi, however, could expose the upcoming OS to a sizeable audience.

The Chinese handset maker has risen to become the country's largest smartphone vendor, thanks to a customized version of Android, which is installed across its phones.

Xiaomi's version of Android, called MIUI, is updated weekly, using input from its more devoted users. The Windows 10 experiment will tap into these customers, and could bring much-needed visibility to the OS, said Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

But in the case of Xiaomi, the custom Windows 10 build isn't expected to go too far.

The Chinese company has made it a major goal to eventually monetize services over its Android software. This includes letting users buy special themes to decorate their phone's user interface.

Switching over to the Windows 10 OS would risk upending all that work, especially as Microsoft wants to run its own services.

"Working with Microsoft doesn't really help Xiaomi in this aspect," she added. "It doesn't really make sense for them to give up on MIUI."

Xiaomi, however, is expanding globally, and analysts expect the company to eventually stumble into patent disputes. One major patent holder is Microsoft, so keeping the U.S. software giant on good terms is in Xiaomi's best interest.

"If Xiaomi wants to grow in scale, they will have to eventually come across working with Microsoft," Peng said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobileMicrosoftsmartphonesAndroidconsumer electronicsMobile OSes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?