Cyanogen Announces Strategic Partnership With Microsoft
“Cyanogen Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced a partnership to integrate popular Microsoft services across the Cyanogen Operating System. With offices in Palo Alto and Seattle, Cyanogen is a leading mobile operating system company that is evolving the Android platform to create a more open, level playing field for third-party developed apps and services.
Under the partnership, Cyanogen will integrate and distribute Microsoft’s consumer apps and services across core categories, including productivity, messaging, utilities, and cloud-based services. As part of this collaboration, Microsoft will create native integrations on Cyanogen OS, enabling a powerful new class of experiences.”
According to the press release, Microsoft services such as Bing, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook and Microsoft Office will come bundled on devices running Cyanogen OS starting later this year. The press release also talks about native integrations on the OS level, but does not offer any more exact details on these integrations.
Some may say that the move is in stark contrast to Cyanogen’s commitments of an “open future“. Afterall, they did promise real choice and freedom in choosing the default apps and services consumers want:
“We want our OS to be as accessible as possible, so that many millions of people can have a better, more powerful mobile computing experience and choose what default apps and services they want. Real choice. Real freedom.
… Our open-source roots has given us time to reflect on what’s important, what matters to not just developers and enthusiasts, but to people from all walks of life. A mobile OS by the users, for the users.”
In their latest move, it seems Cyanogen has substituted closed source and proprietary Google apps with closed source and proprietary Microsoft apps. Unless these Microsoft apps and services come as optional additions along with Google offerings, we really can’t see how this offers real choice to the consumers.
However, it does offer an alternative ecosystem to someone looking to get over Google’s hold on Android, which is inline with Cyanogen Inc’s views of taking Android away from Google.
“We’re making a version of Android that is more open so we can integrate with more partners so their servicers can be tier one services, so startups working on [artificial intelligence] or other problems don’t get stuck having you have to launch a stupid little application that inevitably gets acquired by Google or Apple. These companies can thrive on non-Google Android.
… We’ve barely scratched the surface in regards to what mobile can be. Today, Cyanogen has some dependence on Google. Tomorrow, it will not. We will not be based on some derivative of Google in three to five years. There will be services that are doing the same old bulls— with Android, and then there will be something different. That is where we’re going here.”
Is this partnership an inherently bad move by Cyanogen Inc? In our opinion, certainly not. Google’s practices of late have led to neglect of AOSP in favor of its proprietary apps. That, coupled with Google’s strong and deep rooted hold on the Android ecosystem does not leave much room for competitors to thrive on a Google-less Android, with Amazon being the only notable, recent exception. This partnership actually gives ground to competition in a space where Google is used to unquestioned monopoly.
Competition is good as it offers more choice to the consumers. However, moving from one autocratic implementation to another does not constitute a real choice in our opinion. This move is certainly not in the spirit of the open source roots of Cyanogen Inc.
What does this mean for CyanogenMod?
This is an interesting question which needs answering keeping in mind our demographic audience. As the Cyanogen team has explained on previous occasions, Cyanogen OS is the commercialized version of CyanogenMod, the open sourced AOSP fork that we love here at XDA Developers. Microsoft’s partnership to bundle its services should not affect CyanogenMod, limiting itself to Cyanogen OS and phones released with it.
Update: Russell Holly over at Android Central has provided some more details regarding the deal. For starters, the bundled Microsoft Apps would be uninstallable in the truest sense. This gives back power to the end user on actually choosing the default apps installed on the device. While it is still adds some “extra bloatware” that a power user would need to rid off, the fact that it can be actually rid off is a welcome and appreciated move.
Update 2, 17th April 2015: As we mentioned in the article when we published it, CyanogenMod remains unaffected by the partnership of Cyanogen with Microsoft. This point has been pointed out again by the CyanogenMod team.
What do you think of Cyanogen Inc’s latest move? Do you feel it distances them with their roots and commitments, or is it a long term solution to a more open Android? Let us know in the comments below!
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