Microsoft has hired a number of engineers and designers from Movial, a global design services company specializing in mobile and embedded devices. Microsoft plans to make Movial's office in Iasi, Romania, its fourth research and development center in the region, according to a July 6 report by SeeNews.com.
"Microsoft recently completed an agreement with Movial to hire employees across several offices as part of the company's efforts to boost Windows and Android development efforts," a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed when I asked on July 7. Microsoft is not disclosing how much it paid Movial to hire the employees.
Movial is based in Helsinki, Finland, but also has offices in Taipei, San Francisco, and Seattle. A Movial spokesperson told Windows Central that the transaction involves Movial employees in Romania, Taiwan, and the US. Microsoft is not buying Movial, which will continue as an independent company, going forward, with the majority of its remaining staff located in Finland, the spokesperson said.
Microsoft has been working on a dual-screen Android-based phone known as the Surface Duo. Last year, Microsoft officials said the company planned to launch the Surface Duo and a dual-screen Windows 10X device known as Surface Neo by holiday 2020. Since then, Surface Neo has been postponed and Microsoft's focus with 10X has shifted from dual-screen first to single-screen first. The Duo is still expected to ship this year.
When Microsoft announced the Duo, officials said Microsoft was partnering with Google on the device, but only insofar as Microsoft would be acting as an Android device licensee.
Windows Central says that Microsoft's hiring of the Movial employees who have been working on the Surface Duo as contractors means Microsoft will now be able to do all of the future OS work for the Duo in-house. Microsoft already has hundreds of engineers working on Android apps working at the company. As of a year ago, Microsoft had more than 150 of its own apps published in the Google Play Store.