Microsoft tailors Windows 10 for China, cutting deals with Baidu and others

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft forges new partnerships in China.

Microsoft announced three new tie-ups in China on the same day that the country’s President Xi Jinping and a delegation visited its campus at Redmond, Washington.Microsoft has unveiled new partnerships with politically connected Chinese companies in an effort to open doors to more sensitive and official business in the vast China technology market.

Other companies like Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard have also announced ties with Chinese companies, a market that has been proving complex for U.S. companies because of the strong backing of the government for local players. Microsoft, for example, announced an agreement with its cloud partner in Beijing, 21Vianet, and IT company Unisplendour to provide custom hybrid cloud solutions and services to Chinese customers, particularly state-owned enterprises. According to the Windows 10 blog, “We’re excited to be working with leading hardware and software companies in China to develop ground-breaking devices and consumer experiences for Windows 10.” Yusuf Mehdi, Windows and devices vice president and author of the blog added that in partnership with Baidu, “We will make it easy for Baidu customers to upgrade to Windows 10 and we will deliver a custom experience for customers in China, providing local browsing and search experiences.” In the past, Microsoft has also partnered with Tencent, a social networking and gaming service in the world, Qihoo 360, an internet security company in China along with Lenovo, one of the world’s leading PC manufacturers as well.

While at the Microsoft campus, the Chinese president met with senior company executives and board members, “watched technology demos and reviewed innovative new devices,” according to a Microsoft review of the meeting. Mehdi added that the company has seen great feedback from the Xiaomi program, which is helping them test Windows 10 on mobile devices with a set of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users. Microsoft also struck a deal with state-owned China Electronics Technology Group Corp. to explore ways to configure, deploy and maintain a “localised” version of Windows 10 for clients in Chinese government organs and state-owned enterprises operating critical infrastructure. Microsoft has its own Bing search engine but it likely decided to concede to Baidu with over 600 million active users, in return for Baidu’s new Windows 10 distribution channel to Chinese users, called Baidu “Windows 10 Express.” The Chinese company will also deliver Universal Windows Applications for Search, Video, Cloud and Maps for Windows 10. The Chinese consortium, known as CETC, provides technology for Chinese military and civilian use, including major communications and electronic equipment and key components.

In other deals, Microsoft announced discussions for cooperation with Xi’xian New Area, a special development zone, on a variety of projects including big data, cloud computing and “smart” urbanization. Also last year, China’s Central Government Procurement Center banned government agencies from purchasing computers loaded with Microsoft’s Windows 8 software. There are already hundreds of millions of PCs running Windows, but because of widespread piracy, Microsoft has traditionally had difficulties extracting revenue from many of these users. But with a negligible market share in the country, it makes sense for the company to play down Bing to promote its more popular Windows software, said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of website Search Engine Land. “If Google can’t win the search market in China, then Microsoft can’t,” Mr Sullivan said. “But there’s a lot to gain by pushing the Windows adoption.” With the deal, Baidu will fortify its grip on Web search in China.

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