Windows 10 Set To Become Big In China Following Baidu Partnership
Windows 10 could be set to replicate Microsoft’s moderately successful push in the US with faster-than-usual adoption of Windows 10 in the Chinese market. The Verge reports that not only has Windows 10 been installed 10 million times in China already, but that Microsoft has partnered with China’s leading search engine, Baidu, to distribute Windows 10 through a new distribution channel called “Windows 10 Express”.
One of the most interesting parts of the report is that even those users who have installed older, pirated, copies of the operating system, of which there are hundreds of millions, will be offered the opportunity to get their hands on a Windows 10 upgrade for free. This Windows 10 upgrade will be to an unlicensed copy of Windows 10, however.
Slash Gear notes that Microsoft have been “willing to make sacrifices” to ensure they don’t lose ground in China with Windows 10 facing competition for popularity there from iOS and Android, as well as the Chinese government’s desire to move more users onto Linux-based systems on the back of US spying allegations. The Windows 10 sacrifice comes in the form of ditching Bing and its core services, such as maps, for the equivalent services from Baidu. Baidu is China’s largest search engine and will be the default search experience on the Windows 10 Edge browser as well as benefiting from integration into Windows 10’s universal ecosystem which will lead to the new services being delivered on Windows 10 Mobile when it launches.
Early reports, including one from ZDNet, indicate that Cortana will still be powered by Bing. That means the Windows 10 voice assistant will behave much as it does in the US. It will be interesting to note the adoption of Cortana against this backdrop. If Chinese Windows 10 users prefer the Baidu search experience, it’s possible fewer will use Cortana than in the US, where Bing and Google results are more closely matched. With Bing failing to significantly close Google’s edge in search, few would argue that Google isn’t offering the solution that users find most attractive.
Windows 10 has the advantage over previous attempts by software vendors to support the switch from Google to other search engines. The integration of search in Windows 10 so that it matches more of the functionality of Google Now and Siri, where it can search everything from documents and maps to calendars and the web, means many users will find it more convenient. Time Magazine contends that Windows 10 users may “never use Google again”. On the other hand we’ve seen that users are fairly loyal to Google, with Search Engine Land reporting that, despite an early bump in searchers from Firefox’s decision to bundle Yahoo!, many users started to make the switch back.
Only time will tell whether Windows 10 can help Microsoft reverse its fortunes in the search game, but with Windows 10 it’s bringing to the table the most integrated experience we’ve seen from the software vendor. Supporting the incumbent in China might not only help Windows 10 adoption, but help Baidu continue to fend of Google’s ambitions in the region.
[Image Source: Microsoft Press Center/Windows 10 Fan Celebration Beijing]