Microsoft partners with Chinese companies, including Baidu

Steven Loeb · September 24, 2015 · Short URL:

Baidu will allow its users to upgrade to Windows 10, in exchange for being the default browser

Despite what Donald Trump has to say about China (or maybe because of it? After all, they are apparently the best at everything while we're the worst, according to him), seemingly every tech company wants a piece of that action.

Now Microsoft has inked a series of deals with Chinese companies to expand its reach, and solidify its presence, into a country whose online population more than doubles the entire population of the United States. 

In the biggest deal that Microsoft announced Wednesday, it has entered into a a new partnership with Baidu, one that will allow that company's 600 million users to upgrade to Windows 10. The deal also includes "a custom experience for customers in China, providing local browsing and search experiences."

For one, will be the default homepage and search for the Microsoft Edge browser in Windows 10. At the same, Baidu’s new Windows 10 distribution channel, called Baidu “Windows 10 Express,” will allow Chinese Internet users to download an "official Windows 10 experience."

Finally, Baidu will deliver Universal Windows Applications for Search, Video, Cloud and Maps for Windows 10.

"In China, hundreds of millions of PCs operate Windows today and we’re excited to see over 10 million devices already running Windows 10," Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

Its new deal with Baidu was far from Microsoft's only partnership it struck in China on Wednesday. In fact there was a pretty long list of them.

They included a deal that it made with Unisplendour Corporation and 21Vianet, which will provide hybrid cloud solutions and services to Chinese customers. Specifically, that one targets state-owned enterprise customers.

There was another deal with CETC to configure, deploy and maintian Windows 10 for Chinese users in Specialized Fields in government institutions and critical infrastructure state-owned enterprises. Microsoft also made a deal the Sichuan Provincial Government, signing an memorandum of understanding, which covers IT training, startup incubation, and the use of cloud computing and big data to strengthen local economic development.

Entering China

Every big tech company, including FacebookTwitterNetflixThe Honest CompanyDropbox, and especially Uber, have all looked at China as their great white whale. 

Microsoft already has a presence in China due to a number of partnerships the country, including with Tencent, Qihoo 360 and Lenovo. It has also teamed up with smartphone distributor Xiaomi, which is helping the company test Windows 10 on mobile devices. 

However, due to China's well known issues with censorship, there's always a risk in doing deals over there. Just look at what happened to LinkedIn, which was recently able to strike a deal to enter the country last year.

After LinkedIn made its China announcement, the company came under fire after it admitted that it was only able to operate there because it complied with Chinese censorship laws. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner defended the decision in a blog post written shortly after.

"As a condition for operating in the country, the government of China imposes censorship requirements on Internet platforms. LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship," Weiner said. 

"At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn’s absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform, thereby limiting the ability of individual Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams and rights most important to them."

Despite all of that, given China's enormous marketsize, many of them seem willing to take the risk.

VatorNews has reached out to Microsoft for further comment on its efforts in China. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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