Microsoft signs up local partners to get Windows 10 rolling in China

Microsoft seeks to curb piracy, add mobile users with a series of partnerships in China

In an unusual deal, Microsoft is partnering with fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi to slip an experimental version of Windows 10 onto Android phones sold in China.

A select group of Xiaomi Mi 4 users in China will be invited to download a preview of Windows 10, Microsoft announced late Tuesday. Perfecting the new operating system before its official launch this summer is critical for Microsoft because Windows 10 is the first version of the operating system designed to work the same across PCs and mobile devices.

Windows’ market share among smartphones in China is almost non-existent. But the test run with Xiaomi could persuade the local powerhouse to offer Windows-based phones as a long-term alternative to Android-based devices. Chinese hardware manufacturer Lenovo has already agreed to sell some Windows 10 phones by midyear, Microsoft said.

Spread in part by software piracy, Windows is the dominant operating system on desktops and laptops in China. To get consumers onto a legitimate copy of Windows, Microsoft said Tuesday that it planned to work with leading Chinese software makers such as Tencent and Qihu 360 to distribute free copies of the new operating system.

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