The deal includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers both Lenovo and Motorola devices. That means Lenovo can install Microsoft's software on its entire smartphone range.
“Microsoft is thrilled that our productivity apps will be pre-installed on Lenovo's premium devices," said Nick Parker, corporate vice-president OEM Division, Microsoft. "The marriage of Microsoft's apps and Lenovo's Android-based devices will enable customers around the world to be more productive, more connected and achieve even more."
"Our collaboration with Microsoft will create new opportunities for our customers to take advantage of some of Microsoft's most popular apps," said Christian Eigen, leader of corporate alliances, Lenovo. "Installing Microsoft apps and services on our devices will bring additional value to consumers around the globe."
Lenovo's move is a strategic one that counters the dominance of Google apps on Android. But more than that it firmly cements what were once Windows-only programs back into the real world of mobile devices. As Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella says it is a “Mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its (Microsoft's) mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.”
The logic is that if you use Microsoft products on your handset, you will use them at home or work. It also opens the way for Microsoft to expand its search engine Bing via Cortana and its tight integration with Office. It also could expand more Windows features like Windows Hello, and Ink into this market.
This comes on top of Microsoft’s extensive patents covering strategic parts of the Android operating system from which it earns about US$5 for each handset sold. It has more than 1200 licensing deals covering the use of its IP.
Analysts almost universally agree that it is better for the consumer, now that Microsoft has become far more open, legitimately believes in open platforms, contributes accordingly, and allows the user to remove products from the device – something Google does not always allow. It is understood the apps are only pre-installed, and it is up to the user to use or discard them.