Microsoft, Xiaomi sign collaboration pact for AI, cloud computing services

Microsoft and Xiaomi are exploring how Xiaomi could potentially use more Microsoft AI and cloud services, including Bing, Cortana, cognitive services and more, in its product line in the future.

Microsoft and Chinese phone vendor Xiaomi are taking their existing partnership to the next stage.

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This week, Microsoft and Xiaomi have signed a "memorandum of understanding" which signals their commitment to cooperate, moving forward, in the areas of cloud computing, AI and other software and services.

Xiaomi Senior Vice President Wang Xiang tweeted about the extension of the companies' partnership on February 23.

"We have signed a Strategic MoU today with @Microsoft to collaborate in cloud support, AI and laptop-type devices. This will help accelerate our pace to bring more exciting products and services to our users, and also allow Microsoft to reach more users using Xiaomi products!" Xiang tweeted.

Earlier this week, Xiaomi signed an AI partnership with South Korean search giant Naver. Xiaomi said its IoT devices, going forward, would be powered by Naver's AI platform Clova.

Today's deal isn't the first agreement between Microsoft and Xiaomi. In 2016, Xiaomi bought and licensed 1,500 patents from Microsoft. The patents included in the agreement included wireless communications patents, plus other patents for technologies including video.

That 2016 deal also included an agreement via which Xiaomi committed to preinstall Office and Skype on Xiaomi Android phones and tablets. Xiaomi already had agreed to preload Windows 10 on its Mi Pad and to use Azure to power its Mi Cloud service.

The most recent addition to the Microsoft-Xiaomi pact covers several service components, according to TechCrunch.

Xiaomi will use Azure for data storage, compute and other services. Microsoft will co-market Xiaomi laptops and laptop-type devices running Windows. The two vendors also are considering a potential collaboration on AI-powered speakers using Cortana, as well as in other AI areas, including computer vision, speech, natural language processing, text input, knowledge graph and search, according to a statement that Microsoft provided to TechCrunch, via Microsoft products including Bing, Edge, Cortana, Xiaoice, SwiftKey, Translator, Pix, Cognitive Services and Skype.

I've contacted Microsoft for further specifics about the February 23 extension of its Xiaomi partnership. No word back so far.

Update (February 23): Microsoft has posted a press release with the details of the Xiaomi relationship.

Xiaomi is currently the fourth-largest smartphone vendor in China after Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo.

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