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Partners: Microsoft's Cross-Platform Strategy With Samsung Opens Channel Doors

Mobile market rivals on Monday revealed their extended collaboration to provide pre-installed productivity services for consumers with Android devices.

Microsoft and Samsung, known for their longstanding rivalry in the mobile market, trumpeted an extended collaboration Monday to provide pre-installed productivity services for consumers with Android devices.

Under the two technology giants' partnership, Samsung will pre-install Microsoft services and apps -- including OneNote, OneDrive and Skype -- on its new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphone devices, as well as on select Samsung Android tablets.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company's latest move in a string of efforts to promote its cloud-based services across a bevy of platforms opens up further opportunities for Microsoft partners to offer mobile-security and device-management services.

[Related: Partners Cheer Microsoft's Polished Multiplatform Outlook Apps]

"To me, this is very strategic in the context of making sure that people are having a multiplatform experience, and I think it will positively impact partners," said Ric Opal, vice president at Peters & Associates, a Microsoft partner in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. "With everything going to the cloud, and cross-platform services spanning across devices, I think partners will have the unique ability to help customers manage devices and security. It's a big opportunity if you're positioned to handle it."

Samsung and Microsoft first announced the partnership in the beginning of March, when South Korea-based Samsung announced it would pre-install OneNote, OneDrive and Skype in a special "Microsoft Apps" folder on its new Galaxy S6 smartphone devices, slated for release April 10.

The companies additionally revealed Monday that Samsung will begin pre-installing an array of Microsoft's services -- including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote and Skype -- on select Android tablets in the first half of 2015.

In addition to expanded cloud services, Microsoft and Samsung said, they will deliver secured mobile productivity bundles for businesses that purchase devices through Samsung's business-to-business sales channel. These products include three versions of Microsoft's Office 365, coupled with Samsung's Knox security solution.

As Microsoft continues to push its cloud productivity services on other platforms, partners said they think it is wise for the company to reach as many consumers as possible, even if those clients are Android or iOS users.

"It's a good marketing move," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Microsoft partner. "I think we're looking at a tremendously competitive space, and this is Microsoft's way of bringing their applications to various platforms. It also introduces consumers to apps, like OneNote, that they might never have used before this."

Microsoft and Samsung's partnership is a turnaround from their longstanding rivalry in the mobile space. In 2014, the Android platform, which is used primarily on Samsung devices, took 81.5 percent of the OS market share, while Microsoft's Windows Phone took a mere sliver of that space at 2.7 percent, according to research firm IDC.

The two companies butted heads over patent royalties last year after Microsoft accused Samsung of violating the terms of a licensing agreement by refusing to make royalty payments after Microsoft acquired Nokia's handset business in 2013. The dispute was settled in February, according to Microsoft.

While Microsoft's Windows OS may get a boost with the release of its new Windows 10 platform later in the year, the company has driven its Outlook services and app portfolio across other systems in the past few months, including upgrading its Outlook versions on the iOS and Android platforms.

"If you look at the number of people who use the Windows operating system, and factor in the number of people who use Android, you'll find an extremely large number of people that are using cross-platform devices," said Peters & Associates' Opal. "So, if you're going to win, it makes perfect sense to embrace the beneficial aspects of the cloud, where things live, instead of the device."

On Monday, Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post that the company would also expand its strategic agreements with Dell and 10 other unspecified hardware partners to pre-install cloud services on Android devices coming to market later in the year.

"These deals demonstrate how we are working with hardware partners in new ways to deliver rich experiences through their scale," said Johnson in the post. "This is a big step forward for our cross-platform and cross-device services strategy, which will bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device."


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