Recent reports have revealed that Microsoft has come up with a clever plan to steal Android users even if they never by Lumia devices by offering them a Windows 10 ROM that can be installed on existing Android hardware. In fact, Microsoft has already announced a first partner for this endeavor, the extremely popular Chinese company that’s been selling devices like hot cakes. But things aren’t as easy for Microsoft as it might seem.
Xiaomi earlier this week told BGR that it’s not actively working with Microsoft on bringing Windows 10 to existing Mi-branded handsets. Instead, Microsoft is directly targeting Mi 4 power owners with its Windows 10 initiative and will provide the ROM to users who know how to flash their devices by themselves. The first Mi 4 units running Windows 10 have already been spotted in the wild.
Xiaomi vice president of global operations Hugo Barra recently explained on Google+ how the unofficial update to Windows 10 will work on the Mi 4.
The exec said Microsoft’s project is an “experimental program” where the company is working directly with the Mi community in China. The project is limited to Chinese users, he said, though it wouldn’t be surprising to see anyone owning a Mi 4 handset get access to the Windows 10 ROM as soon as it leaks, given that all Xiaomi devices come with unlocked bootloaders.
“Microsoft is working on a build of Windows 10 specifically for Mi 4 devices,” Barra said. “This Windows 10 build will not be running on top of Android nor be available as a dual-boot option. A small number of Mi 4 power users from the Xiaomi Forum in China who choose to take part in this experimental program will have to manually re-flash their Mi 4 devices with this Windows 10 ROM, in the same way they would re-flash other Android ROMs.”
Even though Xiaomi is not ready to confirm a deeper business relationship with Microsoft, which would certainly put some pressure on Google, the Chinese company does seem to appreciate Microsoft’s program.
“At Xiaomi, we are very supportive of users trying new things and we encourage them to do so all the time,” Barra said. “That’s why all of our devices ship with unlocked bootloader, for example. That’s also why Xiaomi welcomes Microsoft team members to interact directly with members of the Xiaomi Forum in China. More details will be announced by Microsoft in the coming months. This program will only be available in China.”
At the same time, Barra said that Xiaomi continues to “fully embrace” the Android ecosystem, and it’s building many Android-based features and services.