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Lenovo to launch its first Windows phone this summer

The phone will debut in China around the middle of the year. But no word on whether it will expand to other countries.

Lenovo will finally add Windows phones to its lineup. Sarah Tew/CNET

Lenovo will finally launch its first lineup of Windows phones, slated for China around midyear.

That tidbit was squeezed into the announcement made on Tuesday by Microsoft that Windows 10 itself would debut in 190 countries sometime this summer. In its blog post, Microsoft said Lenovo had announced a commitment to build Windows phones, which will be available in the middle of 2015 via Chinese carrier China Mobile.

Microsoft's mobile OS has been mired in third place in the global smartphone arena, stuck far behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Windows Phone's share of the market dipped to 2.7 percent last year from 3.3 percent in 2013, according to research firm IDC. As Microsoft prepares to roll out Windows 10 to all devices, from phones to tablets to PCs, the company needs to expand its presence on mobile devices, especially in China, which ranks as the largest smartphone market.

China Mobile is the nation's largest carrier, with around 808 million subscribers. So Lenovo's deal could provide a much-needed shot in the arm for Microsoft. Among mobile operating systems, Android held a 72.8 percent market share in China over the three months ending with January, according to a report out earlier this month from Kantar WorldPanel ComTech. Over the same time, Apple carved out a 25.4 percent share, while Windows Phone eked out less than 1 percent.

Microsoft will try to generate interest in Windows Phone -- a name that will be replaced by the Windows 10 moniker -- in China courtesy of an arrangement with Chinese mobile device maker Xiaomi. Under the plan, select owners of the Xiaomi Mi 4, an Android smartphone, will be able to install and test the Windows 10 Technical Preview in order to provide feedback to Microsoft.

Lenovo had reportedly been planning to launch Windows phones and was listed by Microsoft as one of its Windows Phone 8.1 partners. But no device has yet surfaced. The company didn't reveal whether its Windows phones would expand beyond its home base of China.

Microsoft's blog post also noted that Lenovo announced it will offer Windows 10 upgrades at service centers and select retail stores in China when the new OS launches. The goal is to help customers upgrade their new or existing devices to Windows 10.

Lenovo did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.