Whether this means a revival of Huawei’s Windows laptop development is still in question. Although the license is for ‘mass-market software,’ the Commerce Department also says the license has been designed to be narrow in scope.
Huawei might be able to resume development of Windows laptops. On Friday, Microsoft said the US Commerce Department had granted the company a license to “export mass-market software” to Huawei.
Microsoft is among the hundreds of American technology companies seeking to resume sales to Huawei, which is currently on a US government blacklist due to US national security and foreign policy concerns.
Huawei was accused of violating US sanctions to sell equipment to Iran. US officials have also alleged Huawei products pose a spying threat on fears the Chinese government can backdoor the technology. (Huawei denies this.)
The controversy has threatened Huawei’s well-received, Windows-based laptops. Under the order, Microsoft can only support existing Huawei laptops; it’s banned from helping the Chinese company develop new ones. As a result, Huawei has been considering using a Linux alternative to power future PCs.
Strangely, Microsoft declined to elaborate on the license it received from the US Commerce Department and whether it covers the Windows OS. Huawei also chose to remain mum.
We suspect the companies are still studying the conditions of the license itself. The Commerce Department told PCMag the licenses it’s been issuing to resume the Huawei sales are “narrow” in scope. They’ve also been designed “to authorize limited and specific activities which do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States,” the department added.
Whether other major US companies, such as Google, have received a license to resume sales to Huawei remains unknown at this point. In the meantime, Huawei has only been able to develop new smartphones using the open-source version of Android, which comes without official Google apps, such as Gmail and YouTube.
According to Reuters, the Commerce Department received about 300 license requests, and in the end, only approved about a quarter of them.