Microsoft makes Baidu a big piece of Windows 10 in China

Microsoft announced today that it has partnered with Chinese web giant Baidu — the country’s answer to Google — as it continues its quest to push Windows 10 in the market. The deal will make Baidu.com the default homepage and search option for users of the Microsoft Edge browser in the country, will add an easy way for Baidu’s 600 million-plus users to upgrade to Microsoft’s new operating system, and will introduce universal Baidu search, video, cloud, and map apps to Windows 10.

Chinese customers will be able to upgrade to an official version of Windows 10 through Baidu’s “Windows 10 Express” distribution channel. Microsoft says it’s already got 10 million Windows 10 users in China, but the company has many hundreds of millions more using older or pirated versions of its operating systems. The company has tried a few methods to lure these users over to its newest OS — earlier this year, Microsoft offered Chinese pirates the chance to upgrade to (an unlicensed version of) Windows 10 for free, a move the company said was designed to “re-engage” with users in the country.

The deal means that Microsoft will be forgoing Bing as its default search and homepage options in its Edge browser in China, but it’s indicative of the company’s strategy in the eastern market, in which it has deferred to home-grown leaders. The American company had previously brokered partnerships with a number of China’s biggest companies, including Tencent, Lenovo, and Xiaomi. This latest deal with Baidu continues that trend, giving it a reach in the lucrative Chinese market that Google — which largely pulled out of the country in 2010 — can’t yet match.

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