Microsoft is selling Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus through its US stores — but unlike last year’s Galaxy S8, Microsoft isn’t customizing it at all. It’s just the regular Galaxy S9.
That said, Microsoft is still hoping you’ll install some of its apps after checkout: the company says it’s happy to have its employees download apps like Office and Cortana on the device before you leave the store, should you ask them for help setting it up.
This is a big change of course for Microsoft and Samsung. Microsoft apps were pre-installed on the S6 and S7. And for the S8, Microsoft sold a customized edition of the phone that would download those apps upon setup. Microsoft even seem to be confused about how things would play out this year — a spokesperson initially told TrustedReviews that the S9 would be customized in the same way.
Microsoft has since followed up with us with a new statement, saying that the S9 it sells will be “the same phone you can purchase elsewhere” and confirmed that Microsoft applications ”do not come preinstalled.”
The difference is likely related to a confidential deal between Microsoft and Samsung over a bitter Android royalties dispute. The pair settled the dispute in 2015, and Samsung started bundling Microsoft’s Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote apps on the Galaxy S6 and S7 devices. Samsung bundled these apps again on the S8, but Microsoft also started offering its own versions of Samsung’s Galaxy devices with these apps and customizations preinstalled. It seems that with the S9, either that deal is over or the terms have changed.
Update March 12th, 1:49PM ET: Microsoft tells us the S9 won’t be customized with Microsoft software; this story initially said it would, based on an earlier comment from a spokesperson. The story has been updated to reflect the new information.