When Microsoft announced plans yesterday to launch Windows 10 this summer in 190 countries, the company also revealed plans to test Windows 10 on Xiaomi’s Mi 4 devices, which ship with Google’s Android. Details were scarce, however, as Microsoft only shared two sentences about the experimental program — Chinese electronics company Xiaomi today offered more details.
For reference, here is what Microsoft originally communicated:
Through a new program with Xiaomi, one of the top smartphone distributors in the world, a select group of Xiaomi Mi 4 power users will be invited to help test Windows 10 and contribute to its future release later this year. These power users will have the opportunity to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview — installing it and providing their feedback to Microsoft.
Hugo Barra, vice president of international for Xiaomi (and previously vice president and product spokesman of Google’s Android division), has explained that Microsoft is developing a custom build of Windows 10 Technical Preview specifically for Mi 4 phones, deployment of which is made easier since they ship with an unlocked bootloader. Barra also emphasized that this is an experimental program led by Microsoft and has no effect on Xiaomi’s Android efforts.
The custom build will be offered to a “small number” of Mi 4 power users from the Xiaomi Forum in China. Mi 4 owners who choose to participate in this experimental program will have to manually re-flash their devices with this Windows 10 ROM, just like they would re-flash other Android ROMs (this runs contrary to rumors that Microsoft will offer a tool that somehow “converts” Android to Windows).
This means the Windows 10 build will not run on top of Android, but will replace it completely. Also, for those hoping for a dual-boot option that allows switching between Microsoft’s and Google’s operating systems, you’re out of luck.
Here are Barra’s four points, quoted in full:
- This is an experimental program led by Microsoft, working directly with the Mi fan community in China.
- Microsoft is working on a build of Windows 10 specifically for Mi 4 devices. 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.
- At Xiaomi, we are very supportive of users trying new things and we encourage them to do so all the time! 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.
- Xiaomi continues to fully embrace the Android ecosystem through our MIUI software platform and we’re moving ahead full steam building many exciting new Android-based features and services.
In short, Xiaomi is perfectly happy working with Microsoft to let its users try out Windows 10. The agreement doesn’t suggest, however, that any of its existing operations will be changing.
It’s naturally possible that the Windows 10 experiment is a huge success and Xiaomi becomes interested in shipping devices with Microsoft’s upcoming operating system. For now, though, nothing of the sort is in the works.