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February 19, 2020

MS Gets Software Sales OK for Huawei: Is Hongmeng Still On?

On November 21, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft is once again able to sell software to Chinese electronics giant Huawei. In the Bloomberg story, Microsoft is quoted as saying “On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted Microsoft’s request for a license to export mass-market software to Huawei. We appreciate the department’s action in response to our request.” It’s not exactly clear if the term “mass-market software” includes Windows and Office but it certainly doesn’t seem like  much of a stretch to so presume. In May, the Commerce Department added Huawei to its entities list, which bans US companies from conducting business with the parties it names unless they obtain a specific license to do so.

A Sign of Easing Sino-US Trade Tensions?

President Trump has been claiming an immanent improvement in US-China trade relations, and a softening (or perhaps lifting) of the current trade embargo. If the recent news from Microsoft about Huawei has any bearing on this matter, it could be a further welcome sign of easing relations. Does this mean that Huawei gear will soon re-appear in the Microsoft Store? It’s still to early to tell, but this could be welcome news on many fronts if true.

What About Hongmeng?

Hongmeng is, of course, Huawei’s own in-house-developed operating system. Aka “Harmony OS,” it targets the company’s phones, tablets, TVs and wearable devices. For some time now, there’s been speculation it could also provide a runtime enviroment for Huawei’s laptops and other PC-related products. My best guess is that the company will keep on with Hongmeng development, but that it may no longer need to use it on higher-end/higher-capability computing gear.

Stay tuned: as the details come clearer, I’ll report further on this fascinating set of new developments. Perhaps the Mate Book is not really dead as a Windows platform, after all!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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