The big idea is to bundle Microsoft services into the Cyanogen OS including “Bing services, Skype, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, and Microsoft Office.”
Cyanogen started as an aftermarket Android ROM maker, but then It got an outside CEO, Kirk McMaster, who wanted to “take Android away from Google.”
Cyanogen want to supply its Android distribution to OEMs as a kind of outsourced software house, and currently Cyanogen OS powers the OnePlus One.
Vole was going to invest in Cyanogen, but the deal fell through at some point, apparently in favour of this partnership.
For Cyanogen to create a Googleless Android, it will need to provide alternatives to Google’s services, and this Microsoft deal is a good start.
Microsoft can provide alternatives for Search (Bing), Google Drive (OneDrive and Office), and Gmail (Outlook) but it is still missing alternatives to Google Play, Google Maps, and Google Play Services.
Cyanogen has said it will develop an app store in-house, but so far there is no mapping deal in the works..
Lacking Google Play Services is also a nightmare as many apps depend on it to push notifications, in-app purchases, Ads, Google Cast, Google Play Games, location APIs, and a ton of other features. Amazon gets around this by offering drop-in replacement APIs for Google Play Services, and if Cyanogen wants a serious app ecosystem it will need to do the same.
Microsoft has been seeing it as a platform it should expand to. The company brought Office over to Android tablets and will reportedly bring its voice assistant, Cortana, to Android as well.