Microsoft Can Now Work With Huawei, Google Still Can't

By Sarah Basford on at

After months of political turmoil, one major U.S. company is getting a reprieve from President Donald Trump's bans.

Microsoft revealed to Reuters on November 21 it had been granted an indefinite licence to work with Huawei after the Chinese telco giant had been prevented from working with U.S. companies back in May 2019.

"On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted Microsoft's request for a license to export mass-market software to Huawei," Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters. "We appreciate the department's action in response to our request."

Reuters understand that the approved licenses were for the sales of cellphone components and non-electronic components but specific products weren't outlined.

The bans were first announced in May 2019 when President Trump issued an executive order effectively halting U.S. companies from working with the Huawei and a number of other Chinese companies. The order outlined foreign-owned companies were "creating and exploiting vulnerabilities... in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions, including economic and industrial espionage against the United States and its people." Because of this, U.S. companies, like Google, Apple and Microsoft, would not be allowed to work with any companies included on the blacklist, like Huawei.

It also stated a review would take place in May 2020 to ensure the measures "are sufficient and continue to be necessary to mitigate the risks identified in, and pursuant to, this order."

Since then, President Trump has publicly pivoted on the order, promising to ease restrictions and granting certain companies temporary 90 day licences. But otherwise, nothing has really budged until now.

The bans naturally had a flow-on effect to upcoming Huawei products and its Mate 30 series was the first real victim of it. Despite some hopes the Mate 30 series would be spared from the political handball, Google and Huawei both confirmed it would be released without access to Google's Android ecosystem. Huawei would instead use Android Open Source to make its own running system, EMUI10, and create its own apps in Google's stead.

"We will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the U.S. government allows us to do so," a Huawei spokesperson told Lifehacker Australia in September.

"Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem."

The Mate 30 Pro, not the regular Mate 30, had a limited release in November 21 via a strange competition process that required people to go into the running to win the privilege of buying one of the devices.

It's not clear whether Google would also get its ban on working with Huawei lifted, but it declined commenting on the matter to Reuters. So, for now, Huawei purgatory continues. [Via Reuters]

Featured image: Getty

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