Microsoft, still struggling to gain a foothold in the smartphone market, is pressing to have its software bundled on Android devices from major manufacturers, with Samsung as its first partner.
We first heard murmurings about Sammy's deal with Microsoft at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, earlier this month.
"We'll have Microsoft OneDrive, and OneNote, and Office 365 come with Knox Workspace. When you download Knox Workspace, this comes pre-loaded," Samsung's Injong Rhee said at the conference. He added that Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype apps would ship pre-installed on Samsung's new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge phones.
On Monday, Samsung added that it will ship the new Office Apps for Android – including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, in addition to OneDrive, OneNote, and Skype – on a few of its tablets, beginning in the first half of 2015.
Samsung won't be the last device maker to bundle Redmond's mobile software with its devices, either. On Monday, Microsoft announced that it has also inked partnerships with a number of regional OEMs to do the same.
Among the new partners are Turkey's Casper, Italy's Datamatic, Russia's DEXP, Canada's Hipstreet, Portugal's JP Sa Couto, Pakistan's QMobile, Africa's Tecno, and Germany's TrekStor. Dell has also signed on, as has Taiwanese electronics manufacturing powerhouse Pegatron.
Based on the past track records of these firms, most of the new devices will be tablets, possibly with a few phones mixed in. But Microsoft hasn't quit shopping for partners, either. It has reportedly been nudging alt-Android firmware vendor Cyanogen to bundle its apps, for example.
Microsoft already ships versions of its mobile apps on Windows Phone devices, where the apps are arguably better integrated. But Windows Phone is a distant third in the smartphone OS race behind Android and iOS, and while Redmond will try again with Windows 10 later this year, it is courting Android makers now in hopes of gaining a better toehold in the mobile market.
"For Microsoft, this is part of the company's mobile-first, cloud-first vision," Redmond biz-dev VP Peggy Johnson said in a blog post on Monday. "It is addressing consumer demand for top services by making them already available on a device, instead of requiring consumers to download them separately."
Microsoft has another reason for supporting Android, too. It claims to hold hundreds of patents covering various facets of Android tech, and it has signed licensing deals with virtually every vendor of Android kit in the business. By some accounts, Microsoft earns more from Android than it does from Windows Phone. ®