Fewer hardware manufacturers are making Windows-based smartphones, but apparently that isn’t something causing Microsoft to lose sleep. Proving yet again that they are thinking outside of the box and interested in reinventing themselves, Microsoft is working on a ROM that will morph your Android smartphone into a Windows Phone 10 device.
Just to be clear, this isn’t a dual-boot type option. Instead, this ROM will truly offer a native-like Windows 10 experience on your previously-Android-based smartphone.
Microsoft has issued a statement describing their project:
As part of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft will partner with Xiaomi to offer Windows 10 free downloads to a select group of Xiaomi Mi4 users. Xiaomi Mi4 users will get the ability to flash their phones with the new Windows 10 OS and provide feedback to Xiaomi and Microsoft on their experience. This partnership will allow Xiaomi and Microsoft to get direct user feedback and continue to improve the experience for China. Microsoft is thrilled to see Xiaomi embracing Windows 10 and offering this great value to their customers. We’re excited to see the feedback we receive from this audience.
Xiaomi is a leading phone manufacturer in China undergoing significant global expansion. We are excited to partner with them in China and jointly gather feedback from Chinese users on their experience with Windows 10 to jointly collaborate on product and services development for the platform.
Availability will be announced in the months to come.
What do you think of Microsoft’s decision? Other mobile platforms have offered app compatibility with Android, and it’s certainly been done to death in the desktop arena… but this is fairly groundbreaking (I wouldn’t expect Apple to open themselves up to this kind of thing anytime soon –or ever). It isn’t clear how easy it will be to move back to a stock Android built once you’ve installed Windows 10 on your smartphone, but one should expect it can be done without too much weeping or gnashing of teeth.
I tend to think this is a stepping stone of some sort. Microsoft has been making a move toward being all about mobile software and lessening their attempts to break into the proprietary hardware realm (sure the Surface is out there, but it really feels like it’s a secondary priority for them somehow). What is the end-game? It may just be a move to prove their continued relevance. It might be a power move to say to hardware manufacturers that they don’t need their loyalty or commitments. It might just be a way to generate buzz and show themselves as having the most progressive mobile operating system. Heck, reaching further out… it could be a way to position certain technologies for sale. No matter the answer, watching what Microsoft is up to has become interesting once again.