The US trade ban against Huawei forced the manufacturer to ditch Google apps on new phone models, and at the same time affected the brand’s computer business. Huawei couldn’t pre-load Windows and other Microsoft software on its Matebook laptops and hybrid devices.
But some good news has emerged, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that Microsoft’s request for a trade license to continue its business ties with Huawei has been approved by the US Commerce Department. The spokesperson clarified that the software giant is now able to export mass-market software to Huawei.
“On November 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.”Microsoft representative email statement.
The Commerce Department revealed its desire to begin issuing special trade licenses for US companies that want to keep their business ties with Huawei back in July. It also became obvious that the licenses would only cover widely available components and software, though, since then we’ve seen nearly 300 US companies apply for these licenses.
Last week we saw the Commerce Department extend Huawei’s temporary general license to resume business ties with US companies for components that do not pose a threat to US national security. Additionally, Huawei was also granted permission to resume limited operations in the network and equipment sector alongside its efforts in the mobile services and cybersecurity fields.
As much as the decision to approve Microsoft is certainly a welcome move, we are yet to see if Google will also get a similar trade license considering Huawei’s smartphone business is much bigger than its laptop one.
However, there is no further clarification as to what Microsoft’s license pertains, but it’s assumed that Microsoft is free to trade its consumer software products which is a very welcome development for Huawei’s Matebook laptop lineup.
Theoretically, the move should provide a shot in the arm for the Huawei’s PC aspirations, as the Huawei Matebook computers were hit hard by the US ban. In fact, the company confirmed that it was forced to cancel at least one laptop launch as a result of the ban.
Also, if Microsoft is allowed to sell any consumer software to Huawei, this means that the Chinese brand will be able to offer Windows on its new laptops. In the recent past, the brand reportedly opted to sell some Matebook laptops running Linux in its home market of China.
Intel is another piece of the Huawei Matebook puzzle considering that it’s also been affected by the ban against the Chinese brand. The US chip designer confirmed earlier this year that it had applied for a license to sell “general purpose” computer chips to Huawei, presumably meaning the processors going into Huawei’s laptops. As of now, there’s no word if Intel has received approval from the Commerce Department though.
All in all, the ball is in the hands of the Commerce Department to grant licenses to most of these major players like Google and Intel, so we’ll have to wait and see what comes next.