Microsoft cooks up way to run Windows 10 on Android devices

The software giant is starting with Xiaomi's Android-based Mi 4 smartphone with a custom-based ROM that wipes out Android and installs Windows 10.

Microsoft has a way to replace Android with Windows 10. CNET

Microsoft has crafted its own technology that can transform Android phones into Windows 10 devices.

While announcing the summer launch of Windows 10, Microsoft also revealed on Tuesday an agreement with Chinese mobile device maker Xiaomi. Under the plan, some 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.

So just how will people be able to install Windows 10 on an Android device? Through a custom-based ROM, TechCrunch reported Wednesday. Such ROMs (read-only memory), which are essentially installable images of an operating system, are typically used to overwrite a device's existing OS with a customized one. For example, CyanogenMod offers a customized Android ROM that can replace the Android build that comes with a device. In this case, the flashed ROM would override Android, thereby transforming the device into a full-fledged Windows 10 phone outfitted with the necessary Microsoft services.

In an update to TechCrunch's original story, Microsoft confirmed that Xiaomi Mi4 owners will be able to "flash" Windows 10 on their devices. "This partnership will allow Xiaomi and Microsoft to get direct user feedback and continue to improve the experience for China. Microsoft is thrilled to see Xiaomi embracing Windows 10," Microsoft said in a statement to TechCrunch.

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So far, the program is limited to China and just to Xiaomi. So this doesn't necessarily mean Microsoft will expand its Windows 10 transformation technology to other companies or countries. However, Microsoft reportedly does have plans to make its custom Windows 10 ROMs available to more devices in time, according to TechCrunch.

A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had nothing further to share at this time.

Windows 10 is slated to launch this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages. A free upgrade for anyone using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1., the new OS is designed to run on smartphones, tablets and PCs and to offer a more consistent experience across different devices.