Xiaomi Android Devices to Bundle Microsoft Office, Skype

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Chinese gadget maker Xiaomi will start shipping Android devices pre-loaded with Microsoft Office and Skype.

In what Xiaomi Senior Vice President Xiang Wang called "a broad technology collaboration partnership," the deal with Microsoft also includes a cross-license and patent transfer contract.

"People want their favorite apps and experiences to work seamlessly on the device of their choice," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft, said in a statement. So, beginning in September, Xiaomi Android devices—including Mi 5, Mi Max, Mi 4s, Redmi Note 3, and Redmi 3—will come pre-installed with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype apps.

"Xiaomi is looking to build sustainable, long-term partnerships with global technology leaders, with the ultimate goal of bringing the best user experience to our Mi fans," Wang said.

The companies already have in place an arrangement that puts Windows 10 on Mi Pad, and has Microsoft Azure powering the Mi Cloud service. The patent deal, however, may allow Xiaomi to break into the Western markets, UK analyst Sameer Singh told Reuters.

Considered one of the top five smartphone makers in the world, the Chinese electronics company has thus far avoided releasing phones in the US, focusing instead on things like headphones and fitness bands.

Americans were set to get a taste of Xiaomi handsets in February, when US Mobile announced plans to offer a few Xiaomi gadgets otherwise not available in the country. But after just one day of sales, the carrier came under fire from Xiaomi and service provider T-Mobile, forcing US Mobile to pull the devices from its shelves.

Xiaomi, meanwhile, is setting its sights high—literally: The company last month unveiled its Mi drone, which can record in 1080p ($380) or 4K ($460). No release date has been set, but Xiaomi is expected to launch a beta tester version in July.

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