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Microsoft bans Android for its China staff, mandates iPhones for work

The company will provide iPhones to employees currently using Android devices.

Published onJuly 8, 2024

Microsoft logo centered MWC 2022
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
  • Microsoft is mandating its employees in China to use iPhones for work, effectively banning Android devices.
  • This move is due to the lack of Google Mobile Services in China, which prevents the functioning of necessary security apps on Android.
  • The company will distribute iPhone 15s to employees currently using Android devices to facilitate the transition.

Starting in September, Microsoft employees in China will be required to use iPhones for work, as the company plans to block Android devices from accessing its corporate resources. This decision, as outlined in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg News, is part of a broader company-wide initiative to strengthen its defenses against cyber threats.

According to the memo accessed by the publication, the primary reason for this shift is the unavailability of Google Mobile Services in China. These services are essential for running Microsoft’s security apps, such as Microsoft Authenticator and Identity Pass, which are now mandatory for all employees. Since Google Play Store, the official app store for Android, is not accessible in China, Apple’s App Store is the only place where these apps can be reliably downloaded in China.

To facilitate the transition, Microsoft will provide each employee currently using an Android phone with an iPhone 15. These iPhones will be available at various collection points throughout China. Employees will still be allowed to use Android phones for personal use.

Microsoft’s decision comes in the wake of repeated cyberattacks, including a significant breach linked to Russia that affected numerous US government agencies earlier this year. The company has since launched the Secure Future Initiative, a comprehensive effort to enhance its security protocols.

This policy shift is certain to attention to the broader geopolitical tensions between the US and China. Chinese government-backed entities have recently been urging employees to avoid using foreign devices at work due to security concerns. At the same time, the US has already placed some strict sanctions against Chinese entities operating in the US.

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