Back in the early days of 2015, a report surfaced that Cyanogen and Microsoft had been talking about business, and Microsoft was interested in sinking a $70M investment in the custom ROM maker. It was an almost scandalous suggestion, tantamount to Microsoft backing Android (but at least not Google’s Android), and while it made for a good story, a couple months later we heard that the deal as described wouldn’t be happening. What might be possible instead, this new info suggested, was that Microsoft could be making a deal to get some of its apps on Cyanogen-running phones. Sure enough, today the two companies make those plans official, confirming the bundling of Microsoft apps and services on Cyanogen OS devices.
Among the Microsoft offerings set to appear on future Cyanogen OS handsets are Bing services, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office. And in case you’ve forgotten the distinction, when we’re talking about “Cyanogen OS” (instead of “CyanogenMod”) we mean the software as shipped on new commercial devices. So just because Cyanogen has inked this deal with Microsoft doesn’t mean you’re going to have to start dealing with a bunch of bloat in the CM nightlies you install.
As part of the deal, Microsoft will work to integrate its services with Cyanogen OS, “enabling a powerful new class of experiences,” though it’s not quite clear what the specifics of that mean.
Update: Cyanogen reached out to us to clarify the nature of the app distribution this deal involves, and it’s not going to be traditional pre-loading:
“Given the complexity of handset manufacturers, distribution methods, and carriers, there is more than one way MSFT apps can show up. Cyanogen is predicated on user choice with an open operating system that is bringing best in class products and services to consumers. MSFT apps will be surfaced contextually and will always be downloadable.”