Shoppers browsing the Microsoft online store this holiday season will notice something peculiar: Android smartphones manufactured by Razer, HP and Samsung. Even though the Android mobile operating system is developed by Google, the strongest competitor to Microsoft, there are good reasons why the company behind the Window operating system is now selling mobile devices powered by a rival.

After the crushing announcement about the Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile platforms no longer being developed, shoppers rushed to purchase the remaining stock of smartphones bearing the Microsoft brand; this has resulted in low inventories of Nokia Lumia and Windows smartphones.

As the situation currently stands, there are three Windows Phone and three Lumia smartphones offered at the Microsoft online store; the rest are Android devices such as the Razer, the Galaxy 8 and the Galaxy 8+. The Lumia 650, 950 and 950+ are being described as the last smartphones that actually work as a PC, and thus they are selling very fast.

What stands out about the Android smartphones being sold by Microsoft is that they come with a special launcher that replaces the traditional Samsung, Razer and Google launchers and home screens. The Microsoft Launcher offers easy access to the Cortana assistant, Skype, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Search results are provided by Bing while emailñ and organizational tasks are handled by the Outlook app and its calendar. Sadly, mobile notifications are managed by Android, which means that they are not worthy replacement of Live Tiles.

The Only Smartphone That Can Replace a PC

The Microsoft Launcher for Android also falls short of providing the Continuum experience of the Lumia 950; this functionality is the best example of a smartphone that can transform into a full-fledged desktop PC by means of connecting it to a small dock. Third-party developers have yet to release a convincing app that can do the same for Android; the closest has been an effort by Samsung that is still in beta.

It should be noted that Microsoft has effectively divested from all smartphone manufacturing operations; its partnership with Nokia has fizzled, and the direction the company will take in the mobile space is still uncertain at this point. Some tech analysts have pointed out that Microsoft is working on a project under the Andromeda code name; this effort would ostensibly transform Windows 10 into a cross-platform operating system that would challenge both Android and Linux at the same time.