Microsoft pulls Huawei laptops from its online store

Another US tech giant is distancing itself from Huawei.

Microsoft has removed the Chinese company’s laptops from its online store. A search on Friday for “Huawei” returned no results for any devices, and links to the latest models now show error messages. Microsoft declined to comment on when the products were removed.

The move comes after the United States placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, barring US businesses from selling tech and components to the company. Under the new restrictions, Microsoft can no longer supply its Windows operating system to Huawei, which the Chinese company uses in its laptops.

Microsoft spokesman Andrew Pickup said Friday that the company is “not offering comment on this topic in any capacity.” Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It is just the latest setback for the Chinese tech giant.

Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and its smartphones compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung.

But now it is in crisis mode, as suppliers begin cutting off ties to comply with the US export ban.

Google dealt a huge blow to Huawei earlier this week when it signaled that new Huawei smartphones will not have access to its Android operating system or popular apps and services like Gmail and Google Maps.

Top mobile carriers in Japan and the United Kingdom are either delaying the launch of the latest Huawei phones or have stopped taking orders for them, given the uncertainty surrounding the devices.

Huawei’s consumer business — which includes smartphones, laptops, tablets and smart watches — was the biggest contributor to the company’s earnings last year. The division reported revenue of nearly 349 billion yuan ($50 billion) in 2018, more than 45% of the group’s total.

Being cut off from Google and Microsoft makes Huawei’s consumer devices a lot less attractive to international users, especially when it comes to their smartphones.

Losing Microsoft as a supplier will be less painful for Huawei, which globally had just 2% of market share for laptops, according to Ishan Dutt, an analyst with research firm Canalys.

But losing Google’s system will hurt. It means Huawei smartphones and tablets will not have access to popular apps like Gmail and Youtube. Third party apps like ride-hailing platforms and food delivery services that rely on Google Maps would also no longer function without access to Google services.

Huawei said earlier this week that it would like to continue operating in the Microsoft and Google ecosystems, but it had been building an alternative operating system and app store in the event of a US export ban.

A new operating system “would be a really tough sell to consumers,” said Dutt of Canalys, adding that Huawei would need a “perfect rollout” to address the issues and security concerns around its brand.

“It would be a truly Herculean effort on Huawei’s part to pull it off,” he said.