Microsoft works with Cyanogen to bring Windows apps on Android phones

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App developers, take note: there might be a new player in town.

Thanks to a new strategic partnership with Microsoft, CyanogenMod is becoming a possible contender for the world’s third largest mobile platform behind iOS and Android.

In case you’ve never heard of CyanogenMod, it’s a modified version of Google’s Android platform developed by startup Cyanogen. More than 50 million people worldwide use it. CyanogenMod doesn’t use Google Play Store or many other Google apps, and this makes it appealing to users in countries where Google services haven’t won a foothold, such as China, for example.

Microsoft is injecting $70 million into the startup, and Cyanogen raised $110 million over the last 18 months.

Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster said they are “attempting to take Android away from Google,” and it looks like they might actually have a chance at doing that at least in some countries. In India, Cyanogen sealed a deal with mobile device manufacturer Micromax to have its platform pre-loaded onto its devices.

For Microsoft, the deal fits in with the renewed company vision touted by CEO Satay Nadella. He made it clear in the past that Microsoft is no longer just a software company, but it’s a cloud and mobile services company as well. Numerous Microsoft productivity apps like Skype, Office, Bing, and Outlook are to be rolled into the Cyanogen platform.

In a press release about the new partnership Microsoft executive VP Peggy Johnson said, “We aspire to have our tools within arm’s reach of everyone, to empower them in all aspects of their lives. This partnership represents another important step towards that ambition. We’ll continue to deliver world-class experiences across productivity and communications on Windows, and we’re delighted that Cyanogen users will soon be able to take advantage of those same powerful services.”

Microsoft has made other forays into the mobile space in recent memory as well. This month the company released MS Office 365 Video, an app that functions much like a YouTube for businesses. People can upload and share videos on desktop and mobile sites through an HTML5-based player. The new app creates multiple versions of the uploaded videos so it has different sizes to use on different platforms, allowing content to display properly across all devices.

Microsoft also ironed out a new deal with Yahoo. Under the new terms the search company has more freedom to tweak the search experience, and there are new ad revenue terms as well.

The Cyanogen Android offers a certain appeal for device manufacturers since they do not have to include certain Google apps, or install Google search as the default search engine on their devices. It should be interesting to see if the Android variant lives up to its own hype in the coming year.

Photo via YouTube screenshot

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