Ready to swap your Android device for Windows 10?

Above: Terry Myerson, EVP Operating Systems at Microsoft during the WinHEC event.

There was a tremendous amount of news coming from Microsoft this week, much of it during their Windows Hardware Engineering Community (WinHEC) summit taking place in Shenzhen, China. Of all of the announcements that they made (including the fact that Windows 10 will be launching in 190 countries and a whopping 111 languages this summer), one that was particularly interesting could have been easily lost in the mix.

If you – like us – read all the way to the end of various news and blog posts – your deep dive would have been rewarded with this tasty nugget:

“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.”

At first glance, this might seem like just another partnership-type announcement.

But here’s the kicker, the Xiaomi Mi 4 is an Android-based device.

Yes, you read that correctly. Power users of an Android smartphone are being asked to help test the new Windows 10. They go on to say that, “These power users will have the opportunity to download the Windows 10 Technical Preview – installing it and providing their feedback to Microsoft.”

The testing opportunity by power users is just the tip of the iceberg. According to TechCrunch, by participating in this program, the software involved “effectively overrides Android, turning the Xiaomi phone into a Windows 10 device complete with Microsoft services.” This is not then a dual-boot option for the device (i.e., one phone with both Android and Windows 10). TechCrunch goes on to note that this will be a ROM, based on Windows, and that it is “designed to go beyond Microsoft’s Android apps and offer a native-like Windows experience on Android phones.”

Will this be enough to convince hard-core Android users to make a switch to Windows 10? Will Microsoft need to come up with some additional incentives to make this a compelling offer (such as OneDrive storage or free access to Office products)?

Only time will tell, but the initial reaction to this announcement – as indicated in the MIUI forums where Xiaomi users have their say – is overwhelmingly positive. There is a poll on the forum asking users “Do you want Windows 10.0 to run on your Mi 4?” Nearly 74 percent of respondents said “Definitely Yes!” The ratings/comments posted by forum members are also very excited about this news.

That user forum also shows a picture of what Windows 10 will reportedly look like on the Mi 4. If accurate, it looks pretty slick:


So if this gambit works, the payoff for Microsoft could be substantial, resulting in converts to the forthcoming Windows 10 – and in this case coming from die-hard Android fans who would no doubt be in a position to influence others.

But what if this plan backfires and those same Android fans decide they were better off in the first place? As Mashable noted recently, Windows Phone today has less than 3 percent of global market share (emphasis added) – compared to more than 84 percent for Android (and nearly 12 percent for iOS). Microsoft cannot afford to see that number dwindle any further.

Among those who follow the annual college basketball tournament happening this month in the U.S., the saying is: “Go big, or go home.” In the case of Microsoft and Windows 10, those words should ring loud and clear.

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