Recently, tech companies have been taking major action to gain a foothold in the ripe market that is China, from Apple‘s public apology to Google‘s rumored censorship. The latest to make somewhat of a concession is Microsoft, though the implications are probably far less unprecedented or disruptive. The company has just announced one its latest major partnership in China, which will help it gain access to potentially hundreds of millions of users. But its deal with Baidu is coming at a small price, one that will see Bing out the door in the region.
Baidu can perhaps be likened to the Google of China in that it offers a wide variety of Internet services, primary among them being search. This would, of course, be in competition with Microsoft’s own homegrown search engine Bing. As part of its drive to push Windows 10 to more users, particularly in China, Microsoft is prepared to give way to Baidu as its blessed search engine, at least in China.
In practice, this will mean two changes that will happen automatically when Chinese users upgrade to Windows 10, with or without their consent. First, their default browser will be automatically switched to Microsoft Edge, regardless of what it was before the upgrade. Second, they will see Baidu as the default search engine for the OS. Two settings that are easy enough to change, but could still prove irksome to long time Windows users.
For its part, Baidu will be helping Microsoft distribute Windows 10 via its new “Windows 10 Express” channel. It will also help tide users over to the new OS by providing Universal Windows Application versions of its own Search, Video, and Cloud apps for Windows 10. Being universal apps, this means that those will also be available for Windows 10 Mobile when it launches later this year.
All of these to help Microsoft cement its standing in China, where Apple and Google are making headway with both iOS and Android. Microsoft is also seeing some threat from the Chinese government itself, which is trying to push for a Linux-based operating system in lieu of never-ending allegations of spying between the US and China. Like Google, Microsoft sees that the only way in would be through partnerships with local companies, and Redmond is definitely willing to make sacrifices to get there.