Huawei launches first laptop series since US ban after Microsoft nabs license

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The outside of one of Huawei’s buildings on July 30, 2019, in Shenzhen. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Huawei launched Monday a new lineup of its MateBook D laptops with the Windows 10 operating system pre-installed, days after Microsoft was granted a license from the US government to export software to the company.

Why it matters: The move shows Huawei’s multi-billion dollar consumer business is still restrained by a US trade ban imposed in May that bars the company from purchasing components and technology from American firms.

  • The restrictions have hampered the Shenzhen-based company’s smartphone business, particularly in Europe, pending an export license approval for Google, the owner of the Android mobile operating system that runs on most Huawei phones.

Details: The company launched two laptops on Monday, the MateBook D 14 and MateBook D 15, which will ship with Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, said Yu Chengdong, head of Huawei’s consumer business, at an event in Shanghai.

  • The series will start from RMB 3,999 (around $568.8) and hit the market on Dec. 3, said Yu.
  • Alternatively, the laptops are offered with pre-installed Linux, an open-source operating system that is popular among developers, for the price of RMB 3,699, according to Yu.

Context: Microsoft said on Thursday it had been granted a license from the US Department of Commerce to export “mass-market” software to Huawei on Nov. 20, Reuters reported.

  • The move was opposed by US lawmakers with a bipartisan group of 15 senators urging the Commerce Department to suspend the issuing of licenses on the grounds of national security in a letter to the department on Thursday.
  • In June, Huawei canceled the launch of a new product in its MateBook series because the US trade blacklist had blocked the company’s access to the Windows operating system, The Information reported.
  • In a later interview with CNBC, Yu said the launch date of the laptop “depends on how long the Entity List will be there.”