On Thursday, Microsoft announced that the U.S. Department of Commerce granted it a license to resume trading with Huawei. In May, the agency put the Sino conglomerate on its Entity List, which forbade U.S. businesses from trading with it sans approval. Since then, America’s leading component manufacturers and software providers have tried to secure trade ban exemptions.
Microsoft and Huawei are Back Together
In a press statement, Microsoft revealed that the Commerce Department has issued it a license to sell “mass-market software” to Huawei. The corporation’s statement didn’t specify which of its products are exempt from the trade ban. However, the Chinese company has previously sold laptops and tablets that feature the Big Tech firm’s Windows operating system.
Indeed, Huawei waited to unveil a new Windows-powered laptop at June’s CES Asia because it lost access to Microsoft’s tech. Furthermore, the two companies have collaboratively developed a hybrid cloud solution. It uses the U.S. company’s Azure stack and the Chinese firm’s servers.
In September, Microsoft President Brad Smith publicly criticized Washington’s blacklisting of its Sino client. The executive argued that the government’s treatment of the electronics maker has been “un-American.”
What Happens Next?
In a recent interview, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted that his department would finally be addressing the 290 Huawei trade license requests it has received. As indicated by Microsoft’s announcement, the agency is allowing some firms to resume selling their products to the Chinese company. However, Ross also said that product export denials are forthcoming.
Consequently, it’s unclear which companies will be allowed to resume selling their wares to Huawei. When the Commerce Department blacklisted the Sino firm, it explained its action by saying the company represents a threat to national security. As of this writing, the agency hasn’t clarified what kinds of tech exports endanger America’s interests.
Since this summer, semiconductor manufacturers like Qualcomm and Micron have resumed selling chips to Huawei. The firms found a loophole in the trade ban allowing for the export of nonessential components. However, Microsoft is the first American software provider to confirm that it is once again doing business with Huawei.
The Commerce Department’s decision to grant the Windows maker a trade license raises the possibility that it will also give one to Google. Before May, Huawei used the tech giant’s Android operating system to power its best-selling smartphones. Following the blacklisting, the firm is now selling devices without Google web services.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Huawei is very concerned it will lose international market share without access to the interoperable version of Android.