While most of the major smartphone manufacturers have pretty much ditched Windows 10 Mobile variants in their handset lineups, it seems Microsoft still has a friend in Chinese OEM Xiaomi.

In the past, both Microsoft and Xiaomi worked together on the Chinese phone maker's existing flagship, the Mi 4. In that handset, Microsoft created a Windows 10 Mobile ROM that could run on the device. Xiaomi's Mi Pad 2 also came with a Windows 10 variant supporting the full desktop OS.

It seems their partnership was successful enough to warrant another collaboration together on Xiaomi's next flagship, the Mi 5. We've known and expected for some time the Android-based Mi 5 coming right around Mobile World Congress later this month.

The shocker is that Xiaomi will release a Windows 10 Mobile variant alongside the Android Mi 5 model, too. So while Microsoft's Windows 10 Mobile OS plays a distant third to iOS and Android here at home and many other parts of the world, it looks like Microsoft is making one big push to make it on Chinese shores.

That's a good thing because Microsoft could need a few more OEM partners to make phones running their mobile operating system. Samsung, HTC, and all the other major smartphone makers have already chosen their side with Android.

In fact, Microsoft itself may have already given up on their own name brand Windows Lumia phones, too. With Lumia handset sales slumping further in the last quarter compared to the previous quarter a year ago, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL could be the last big Lumias to hit the market before the arrival of the much rumored Surface Phone.

With its own website at www.surfacephone.com, Microsoft could just be waiting for the right time to debut it's new smartphone lineup that'll match up with its more popular Surface line of tablet-laptop convertibles.

Until the Surface Phone does materialize, however, Microsoft's close ties with Xiaomi could keep Windows 10 Mobile alive and kicking. Moreover, Acer's upcoming Liquid Jade Pro will also feature a Windows 10 Mobile variant so that should also help keep Microsoft running in the mobile OS race.

Photo : Roland Tanglao | Flickr 

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