Buried in the announcement that Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 to the world this summer was an interesting tidbit — Microsoft and Chinese smartphone manufacturing giant Xiaomi are offering a program for power users to install an early version of Windows 10 on Xiaomi’s Mi 4 smartphone, which runs Android.
Microsoft is currently testing Windows 10 with some Mi 4 users, according to TechCrunch. There’s no word on exactly when or if such a program would roll out — Xiaomi says it’s assisting Microsoft with a trial, and doesn’t refer to the program as a partnership.
If this experimental rollout with Xiaomi pans out, it opens the door for Microsoft to get a whole new crowd of Windows 10 users in the form of people with Android phones.
As Ars Technica points out, this program apparently means different things to the different companies: Xiaomi sees it as an interesting experiment. Since it already lets users put custom operating systems on its phone, Xiaomi has nothing to lose by opening the door to Microsoft.
But for Microsoft, it’s a much more meaningful relationship. If this experiment with Xiaomi turns into a full-fledged business partnership, it would mean getting in the good graces of a tremendously popular Chinese company that’s growing sales faster than Samsung and Apple in the region.
Xiaomi has even been nicknamed the “Apple of China” in the past because of its popularity in the region. In fact, a recent report says that Xiaomi literally can’t make phones fast enough for the hungry masses.
The Redmond company has invested a lot in making sure Windows Phone 8.1 works fine on Android hardware, as seen in flagship phones like the HTC One M8 with Windows.
But even then, Microsoft made the choice for users by installing the Windows Phone operating system ahead of time. This is the first chance for Microsoft to gather data on the willingness and ability of users to install Windows 10 on their own Android phones.