Microsoft just announced its stronger initiative to push its business further in China, by pushing Windows 10 harder, with a little help from Chinese companies. Among those namedropped was Xiaomi, where Microsoft explicitly mentioned that select Xiaomi Mi 4 power users will be able to test Windows 10 on their devices. This effectively meant that Microsoft is developing a ROM for the smartphone that will practically overwrite Android. Given how Xiaomi has been a strong Android player so far, it is unsurprising to see a few feathers ruffled and a few eyebrows raised.
Microsoft has so far never made such a move for other devices before. To be more specific, it has not made a ROM of its OS available for existing devices, especially one that ran on something other than Windows Phone. On the one hand, it speaks of Microsoft’s willingness to open its doors and do what it takes to get Windows 10 out there and everywhere. On the other hand, to some it might reek of desperation.
On Xiaomi’s part, the Chinese superstar has been Android-centric through and through, but one can’t really say that it’s an ideal Android citizen. To some extent, it is akin to Samsung’s situation. It has a heavily customized user experience and its own hardware, software, and services ecosystem to compete with Google’s own. In fact, given Xiaomi’s clout in China, it could actually very well be even worse than Samsung, who has started to get in line lately.
Of course, it’s too early to say what this Windows 10 ROM will mean for the rest of Xiaomi’s users later on. While it is, for all intents and purposes, a sort of closed beta testing given to a few Xiaomi Mi 4 owners, things are likely to leak out eventually to others. Whether Microsoft will allow that to get out hand depends on its ulterior motives. It could very well let it be, just to spread Windows 10 around even more. That said, users should know that installing such a ROM will, at the very least, require an rooted and unlocked device. It will also definitely require wiping the smartphone clean. A dual-booting Windows/Android Xiaomi Mi 4? Unlikely to happen. At least, not officially. Given the Android community’s sometimes mad skills and interests, it just might happen eventually.