Microsoft China bans Android, demands staff use iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone

As part of an overall security drive, Microsoft in China has told staff they will all be required to switch to iPhone.

A modern glass office building with Microsoft and Chinese characters on the top, set against a clear blue sky.
Microsoft's R&D facility in China (Source: Microsoft)



As China's government has variously been said to be banning iPhones, and not exactly banning iPhones, now Microsoft is definitely doing the opposite in the country. According to a Microsoft memo seen by Bloomberg, all staff in China must switch to iPhone from September 2024.

The memo says that staff using Android smartphones, including China's own Huawei or Xiaomi, will be provided with an iPhone 15. Microsoft is reportedly setting up collection points for iPhones across its facilities in China.

Significantly, it's also doing this in Hong Kong. One of the issues prompting the switch concerns how the Google Play Store is not available in mainland China, but it is in Hong Kong.

Android owners on the China mainland have instead had to use app platforms run by Huawei or Xiaomi. Microsoft has now blocked access to those sites.

As Apple's iOS App Store is available in China, the intention is that all staff switching to iPhones will be able to use the Microsoft Authenticator password manager, plus its Identity Pass app.

Microsoft does not disclose how many employees it has in China. But it has operated in the country since 1992, and says that its "most complete subsidiary and largest R&D center outside the United States is in China." That research center alone employs over 6,000 engineers and scientists.

In May 2024, the Wall Street Journal reported that it had asked around 800 local employees to consider relocating to other countries, including the US.

Neither Microsoft nor Apple have commented publicly on the move.

Separately, in May 2024, Microsoft added support for passkeys. Rather than passwords and regular authentication, passkeys mean an app can use the iPhone's Face ID for biometric authentication.



Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    jeffharrisjeffharris Posts: 805member
    I’d love to “relocate” to another country.
    Any takers? 😢
    9secondkox2
  • Reply 2 of 21
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,336member
    I’d love to “relocate” to another country.
    Any takers? 😢
    Greenland is hiring iceberg herders. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    ssfe11ssfe11 Posts: 53member
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    byronlblastdoorbloggerblogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,963member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    As does being based on OS X which is based off Unix.
    byronlcornchipwilliamlondonAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,954member
    So great. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 21
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,434member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    As does being based on OS X which is based off Unix.
    Android is based on Linux which is very unixy. 

    I’m quite sure that it is not the esoteric differences between Linux and Unix that are driving this but instead Apple’s superior commitment to security and privacy.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 21
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 3,434member
    Steve Ballmer’s head is set to explode. 
    Alex1Nradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,390member
    blastdoor said:
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    As does being based on OS X which is based off Unix.
    Android is based on Linux which is very unixy. 

    I’m quite sure that it is not the esoteric differences between Linux and Unix that are driving this but instead Apple’s superior commitment to security and privacy.
    Google has no influence over the Chinese Android OS. They do what they want with it. Apple is still the only provider of iOS and its services, even if some of the details differ in the China version. 
    Alex1Nblastdoorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 2,295member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 

    The Walled Garden is not about security, but convenience. In computer science, it's well-known that the more convenience you have, the less security you intrinsically have. There's a direct correlation between the two. This is why Apple's business model has been so noticeable, because it flies in the face of that correlation. Apple users enjoy both increased security and increased convenience.

    The security itself is rooted in the foundational architecture of the hardware and software.

    Alex1Nwilliamlondonradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,015member
    The unspoken concern is security in the OS and all the back doors and hacked components that likely occur in the local versions of Android employed there.  

    It’s a fight against cyber industrial espionage 
    williamlondonauxioblastdoortokyojimuwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,993member
    Don't know whether to laugh or cry. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    Doesn't Windows OS's phone app connect only to Android phones?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 21
    FlappoFlappo Posts: 42unconfirmed, member
    So maybe they do have some taste after all !
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,746member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 

    The Walled Garden is not about security, but convenience. In computer science, it's well-known that the more convenience you have, the less security you intrinsically have. There's a direct correlation between the two. This is why Apple's business model has been so noticeable, because it flies in the face of that correlation. Apple users enjoy both increased security and increased convenience.

    The security itself is rooted in the foundational architecture of the hardware and software.
    Funny, convenience vs security was never a paradigm I ever encountered in any of my computing science courses. Aside from perhaps the inconvenience of passwords/authentication.

    Security really boils down to analyzing all of the attack vectors on a given system and designing the architecture so that it protects against those. This is completely independent of how simple or complex the graphical user interface is, and speaks more to underlying architecture like sandboxing the different components, detecting buffer overflows, and similar. Obviously the larger the number of user/external inputs, the more attack vectors there are. But an iPhone and an Android phone would be nearly identical in that regard.

    Someone mentioned UNIX, which indeed was designed to be more secure given that its origin comes from mainframe computers with multiple users that need to be protected from each other (as compared to DOS/Windows which had no such requirements). However, both OS X and Android have UNIX at the core (BSD vs Linux), so it's a bit of a moot point.

    The real concern here is most likely to do with how much data iOS and Android collect. Including the bundled apps like the browser, email, maps, messages, etc. Almost every company I know is vetting software these days to determine what kind of data is being harvested, and where that data is going.
    edited July 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 21
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,338member
    The reason for the switch seems pretty simple...

    Android owners on the China mainland have instead had to use app platforms run by Huawei or Xiaomi. Microsoft has now blocked access to those sites.

    As Apple's iOS App Store is available in China, the intention is that all staff switching to iPhones will be able to use the Microsoft Authenticator password manager, plus its Identity Pass app.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,787member
    Pretty mind-blowing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    y2any2an Posts: 206member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    A Walled Garden is a business model, not a security model.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 18 of 21
    y2any2an Posts: 206member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    As does being based on OS X which is based off Unix.
    “Based off Unix” is weird. OS X is built in the BSD flavour of Unix. Somewhat akin to a Linux distro from today’s viewpoint.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 21
    BlizzardBlizzard Posts: 44member
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 

    The Walled Garden is not about security, but convenience. In computer science, it's well-known that the more convenience you have, the less security you intrinsically have. There's a direct correlation between the two. This is why Apple's business model has been so noticeable, because it flies in the face of that correlation. Apple users enjoy both increased security and increased convenience.

    The security itself is rooted in the foundational architecture of the hardware and software.

    Yeah, I can't say that the walled garden is about convience and not security.  If they didn't have a walled garden, they would still have the convience of the app store, you can have an app store without the walled garden.  The walled garden is about security, it is just done at the time of the app being submitted to the store versus having the user do the security check.  The inconvience is at the developer end vs the user end with the walled garden approach, so it gives the illusion that there is no convience penalty to the end user.
    edited July 9 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 21
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,015member
    y2an said:
    ssfe11 said:
    Yup a Wall Gardened type of security does have its advantages. 
    As does being based on OS X which is based off Unix.
    “Based off Unix” is weird. OS X is built in the BSD flavour of Unix. Somewhat akin to a Linux distro from today’s viewpoint.
    No, it’s not.  OS X at its core only has a BSD based userland layer.   Very little if anything of actual BSD Unix (kernel etc) is in OS X.  OS X uses a hybrid Mach kernel (combining Mach 2 more monolithic and Mach 3 modular / micro kernels) and a whole host of Apple specific layers.  They adopted the BSD userland interface for utilities and lib access though you see more and more gnu style utility versions replacing traditional BSD versions (you can tell looking at the flags to commands for example).  

    I believe OS X has Unix certification.  Linux does not.  Linux was designed to be Unix compatible in concept and interface so that stuff works but it’s its own kernel and architecture. 

    They are both “Unix like”.  


    edited July 9
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