Huawei is one of China’s biggest consumer electronics companies with a wide range of mobile and laptop products. That company has had to pull out of the U.S. market as a result of the USA’s trade war with China. However, that trade war has been easing in recent months. Now Microsoft has confirmed the U.S. Department of Commerce has accepted the big M’s request to resume exporting mass-market software to Huawei.
Earlier in 2019, the Americans placed Huawei on the Entity List. That is a list of companies which the U.S. considers a national security threat. The Americans placed Huawei on that list largely due to concerns that the company was assisting Chinese espionage.
As a consequence, the Trump administration effectively blocked Microsoft and other U.S. companies selling products and tech to Huawei. Under such circumstances, Huawei has had to withdraw from the U.S. market and postpone the release of Windows laptops. Furthermore, Huawei has had to look toward alternative non-Microsoft platforms for its laptops, such as Deepin Linux.
However, the USA and China have resumed trade talks since August 2019 as the trade war has become increasingly detrimental. The U.S. relies a lot on Chinese manufacturing, and China’s companies need America’s biggest software (primarily Android and Windows).
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With the trade war easing, Microsoft requested a license to sell mass-market software to Huawei. The big M confirmed the Department of Commerce has accepted the request as follows: On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted Microsoft’s request for a license to export mass-market software to Huaweii… We appreciate the department’s action in response to our request.
It remains somewhat unclear what mass-market software actually amounts to. However, it might mean that Microsoft can resume Windows OS exports to Huawei. If so, Huawei‘s Windows laptops might become broadly available again (especially in the MS Store).
This does not necessarily mean the USA has entirely removed Huawei from its Entity List. Nevertheless, the accepted request enables Huawei to resume partnership with Microsoft. It might also pave the way for Huawei to re-establish business in the USA with American sanctions on the company easing.