Microsoft Toying With Android Apps For Windows Phone

| February 12, 2014 | 50 Replies

Android Lumias

 

Even with all the upcoming changes in Windows Phone 8.1, Windows Phone still faces an uphill battle when it comes to the apps in their marketplace. Sure by now most big names are available in the store, but some are still in “beta” or unofficial; while others just are taking forever to come (Flipboard, Official Snapchat, non-beta instagram etc.). However according to theVerge Microsoft have begun seriously considering a way to get Android apps onto Windows Phones, without having the devices run Android (in contrast to previous rumors of trying to get devices to Dual boot both OSes).

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is seriously considering allowing Android apps to run on both Windows and Windows Phone. While planning is ongoing and it’s still early, we’re told that some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Store…..

The company wants to enable Android apps on Windows and control the store that consumers download them from, but it’s unlikely that it will want to handle the complex job of supporting an additional platform. Instead, if such a plan goes ahead, it will likely involve a third-party “enabler.”

The real danger of getting Android apps on the WP platform (besides the compatibility layers, or ending up with a horrid UI like with BB10) is the fear that developers would see no reason to make apps specifically for WP anymore, leading to a stagnant and dying store. Also Microsoft have worked hard on laying down UI guidelines for all their apps, which lead to beautiful “metro” apps when done right, simply porting Android apps over would destroy all their hard work.

Either way Microsoft have some decisions to make, but until then we can enjoy the leaks and soon to be released Windows Phone 8.1. What are your thoughts on Android apps for WP? Is it worth the risk of losing Microsoft’s strict UI guidelines and hard work?

Read more at theVerge

Category: Lumia, Nokia, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • Ronit

    Not happy with Nokia’s recent foray into Android and now, Microsoft’s.

  • arts

    Is it working for BB10 now?

    At some point when the market for smartphones is completely saturated, the general landscape of things wont change much. You can either join the big players, or in Microsoft case, allow some form of compatibility.

    • xavier

      Android compatibility has been much improved in BB10 with update 10.2.1 which was released only on Jan 28. It enabled direct installation of apks and works wonderfully in my experience. We’ll see from now on how it goes. BB’s problem is its tarnished image, which may be beyond recovery, not BB10 which has impressed my iPhone toting friends that have seen me using it.

      • Random Random

        Well.

        Nokia had the same problem.

        Nokia’s reputation in high end was pretty much destroyed back in 2009 and 2010.

  • That_guy

    Siiiiiggggghhhhh, this is a tough one. I think they shouldn’t compromise their vision.

  • zlutor

    Why not to buy Jolla then provide WP compatibility on top of that.

    Scale it down to Nokia Normandy and implement Nokia’original plans… ;-)

    • NokNok

      You guys have the impression that Microsoft can buy everything and everyone wants to sell to Microsoft. Besides, Jolla uses a third party layer too: Alien Dalvik.

      • zlutor

        mainly it was a joke from my side but in fact “Microsoft can buy everything”, unfortunately. There is always a price that is insane to refuse…

        About Alien Dalvik – it was offered to Nokia, too, for N9 but refused…

    • Shaun

      That would be something how ever unfeasibly improbable.

      Microsoft dumping their OS for Linux would surely cause a zillion fanbois on either side to spontaneously combust.

  • JGrove303

    Fun, I just commented in a thread here about how Microsoft could run a Java virtual Machine on top of the NT kernel. BOOM

    • zlutor

      Not exactly. What about apps using NDK?

  • shaun

    the UI on BB10 is far superior than Microsofts crap

  • jiipee

    Yes!
    And please use Alien Dalvik. That would strengthen the Jolla ecosystem.

  • Mr.Elop

    And how to enable Android apps on Windows? The article mentions Bluestacks, which seems to be an Android emulator (not a native port of dalvik)? Will WP phone HW be powerful enough to run two virtualation layers in the near future? I doubt it.

    • Mr.Elop

      Did some research on Bluestacks in the mean time. An excerpt of user review from cnet:

      “I tried it on two different computers,one 16GB of RAM of Laptop(Toshiba with intel) running on a 128GB of SSD and it lags a bit when I multi-task and a 32GB of RAM Desktop(Custom with AMD) and it works a bit more smoother on that one. Not very smooth as I could run a bunch of resources-extensive programs without lagging and Bluestacks still lags LIKE HELL when trying to multitask in it!”

      Well. this says it all about the feasibility (and the reliability of theverge)

      • Jonathan Lahdo

        I know this won’t change anything about its feasibility to run on Windows Phone, but was BlueStacks being run on these 16/32GB RAM computers with a 32 bit OS? If so, then only ~3.8GB was actually being used (less technically, as some of that 3.8GB is used ofr system processes).

        • Shaun

          Even 32bit Windows XP allows more than 4GB RAM. The 4GB limit is a per-process limit, not total RAM.

          In any case, it seems unlikely that Android was using more than 4GB!

    • ganyaik

      If I were to do it, I’d probly go for a POSIX layer on top of the win API, which has sufficient functionality to run just the VM. Then, as for the native libs required by the Android platform, some may have a win port already, some others may need to be substituted with something else with a thin layer mimicking the Android originals’ interface(ogl->dx). Then _probably_ they wouldn’t need to touch the android app framework classes too much.

      This would be less taxing, than a full platform emulation and while _far_ from perfect, it could be good enough for most.

  • iinnnnit

    No,god no,don’t wanna see ugly android apps running on WP

  • Janne

    This is indeed an age old question: does emulation or other kind of compatibility hinder native development. The age old wisdom says it does hinder it. But is the age old wisdow always right?

    It probably isn’t hurting the likes of Jolla right now, because in the end the kind of apps Jolla gets are bound to be hobbyist or enthusiast or FOSS crows developments, who will want to support the platform. Enabling Android apps helps more potential buyers embrace Jolla’s nascent platform.

    It is hard to say if that logic follows for Jolla later on, or if it will hurt them. And it seems it has not really worked for BB10 – sure, they’ve made it work all right, but is it also in part to blame for the platform’s prize-crippling memory requirements and lackluster native development?

    Personally, like I’ve said, we lived through a duopoly on desktop for over a decade since the 1990s. I would hate to see that remain the case on mobile – and for there truly to be no duopoly, there needs to be native development on a multitude of platforms. Following that logic I think Microsoft needs to continue boosting their own software ecosystem. Making their own software for Android is fine, of course, Microsoft has always supported other platforms, be it the 8-bits when they were big or Mac ever since.

    I guess the only kind of monopoly that could be good for software is something like HTML5, separately governed, standards based. But that too might stifle innovation and become lost in government-like bureaucracy.

    • Roman

      Duopoly is better than “triopoly” if one of the members has to be Microsoft.

      Microsoft is like a cancer, if has enough mass to move forward, will devour its host. Think of internet explorer episode. Surely duopoly would have been better but MS has killed off netscape by bundling the IE on Windows. The result -> the horrible mess that was spawned by IE6 from which the web still suffers in some part of the world.

      Let’s for the moment suppose that WP survives as a viable force in the mobile landscape. MS will try to grow it by forcing it on customers by leveraging the desktop monopoly it enjoys, integrating two platforms, bundling WP connectivity to the desktop windows.. etc.

      The same old tactics will impose an undue disadvantage to the other mobile players and will gradually either dwindle their influence or cause major disinconvenience for the users of the other platforms.

      Fortunately WP is so much reviled as a mobile os to gain a critical mass for MS to impose such tactics as yet. I just hope that it stays that way.

      • Roman

        And to pre-empt Janne, No, MS has not reformed itself. It just has become weaker. However, whenever it is in the position to impose the said strategy of leveraging the dominance in desktop OS to force its way, it will. It is the only formula MS knows, and the only one that worked for MS.

        While other companies are no better, they are at least not in position to enjoy undue advantages that MS enjoys.

        Although Google might be becoming another MS fast, it is not MS that should be the saviour. At the end of the day, the market needs to punish the rogue company (MS) rather than rewarding it with a piece of the pie. If you are not too myopic, there are other companies that will rise up and compete with Googles and the like. MS is not the only company in the world, Janne.

        • Noki

          huge ++++++++1

        • Janne

          MS is not the only company in the world, Janne.

          And I probably own phones made by those other companies you think of. Do you? I am anything but myopic.

          WP is, currently, the biggest challenger to the duopoly. A triopoly will make fourth and fifth challengers more viable, because the market won’t be defined by a de facto standard.

          During the 1980s, lots of 8-bits received wide software support. None of them were too dominating to kill the others off, not even the one that sold Guinness record style. There is value in such diversity, in my opinion.

          I welcome any and all competitors to the duopoly. Because I’m a Nokia fan, I have of course been rooting for Nokia’s products here, but as that is quickly becoming a thing of the past which phone am I sporting now…?

          Yes, a Jolla.

          However, Jolla isn’t going to conquer the world anytime soon. In the meanwhile, the biggest challenger to the duopoly is WP. And a challenger is a good thing. You can keep your idealistic thoughts of retribution to yourself. I’m a realist.

      • Janne

        Disagree with you Roman on too many accounts to bother. You will never change your mind, no matter what I say, and I guess neither will I.

        I’ll just say this, because this is the main point:

        Triopoly is definitely better than a duopoly.

        Perhaps if the duopoly was made up of saints farting angels you might have a point, but it is made up of two new evil empires. For every IE/Netscape, there are plenty of similar stories of Apple and Google.

        I think you (and Noki) just ignore them because of you bias. I’m being balanced – a duopoly was bad when it was Apple and Microsoft and it sure as heck is bad when it is Apple and Google.

        • Random Random

          These people don’t care about duopolies. All they care is having European OS and seeing the US to fail on operating systems.

          Some people just like to hate US.

          That’s really all that matters for them.

          • Janne

            Obviously people have a wide range of reasons why they like or dislike something. While we all discuss on the same forum, our reasons for preferring or not preferring certain events and products vary wildly.

            Certainly there are people here who hate the US and hate Microsoft with a passion. They may pay lipservice to the fact that Google and Apple have introduced questionable elements to the industry that not even Microsoft ever dared to try in its worst days, but in reality they are just blinded by their Microsoft hate.

            Ironically some US hating Microsoft haters have been rooting for Nokia Android devices. Like putting a US monopoly on Nokia devices is somehow a great thing.

            Go figure.

            • Mr.Elop

              Yep.. Europeans no good in technology. Backward as hell. Only industry is tourism..

              Having said that Android is more open than WP, I must admit.

              • Janne

                Doesn’t it the tiring to play that character?

                I’ve seen moments when you’ve actually wanted to participate in the conversation and you’ve dropped the character and said something real.

                Why not pick a new nick or adjust that one – or simply drop the character and participate with your own opinions.

                Really, of course we know you are not Elop. Not because you couldn’t be, but because your obvious satirical style.

                • Roman

                  Damn! I thought he was the real Elop!

                  • Random Random

                    Well.

                    Why would you think something like that?

                    • Roman

                      Man, you are really are mental. I was sarcastic!

                    • Random Random

                      Well.

                      It seems that lots of people here have hard time understanding what was said and what was not.

                • Random Random

                  Well.

                  Are you suggesting that person is trying to act like Elop?

                  It’s quite obvious he can’t be the same person. First, his English is not on the same level.

                  Second. Well. No need to mention that.

        • Roman

          You have to remember Microsoft’s past business practices and their near monopoly in desktop area. Too much potential for abuse.

          All in all, I think the weakening of MS will open up spaces for more innovative companies. Perhaps the same as the downfall of Nokia that has opened up more oportunites for younger and more innovative start-ups. The big dinosaurs have been guarding the entrance for far too long.

          • Janne

            I’m not forgetting Microsoft’s past at all. For most of my life, I have watched it from the “hater” side – although I haven’t considered myself a Microsoft hater. I have also been honest to myself when both Microsoft changed somewhat, but also more importantly new “evil” empires with even more “evil” business practices have surfaced.

            Mobile has already opened up for plenty of innovation as old players were replaced by new ones – and same goes for the rise of Apple and Linux on desktop. However, all this is quickly becoming undone on mobile if a new Microsoft – Google – is allowed to become a de facto standard like Wintel was allowed to become.

            In that world, it is much harder for new, small innovative companies to rise to the surface. It will be trivial for Google to push them down and for the rest of the market to ignore them. That is also a past I remember very well.

            • Janne

              As for Microsoft’s potential for abuse on mobile, that is something strong competitors will keep in check – Google and Apple. They will keep each other in check, in all directions.

              And at the same time, the presence of three strong ecosystems on mobile means no single de facto app standard can become reality, in which case there remains much more room for diversity and competition – just like there was in the 1980s, when there was no de facto application standard on desktop.

              • Roman

                Number of things.

                First Google is not the new evil empire that MS used to be. It’s all a matter of degree but if you want to say Google is worse than MS ever used to be, you are lying.

                Second, fundamentally Android is different from Windows in the sense that still you can fork it and also you have near transparent access to the source code as you know. So it’s not like MS trying to maintain dominance by making things deliberately inaccessible, incompatible and obscure.

                Third, MS has a track record that makes it such an undesirable leg of the trio. It will use the desktop dominance to cripple the mobile-desktop convergence. The result would be that either MS wins and everybody loses, or everybody loses (by making things not convenient for end users using different mobile platforms).

                Finally, triopoly has an inherent stability (classic MBA stuff) that even further colludes and resists any new entrants. So in that sense triopoly is better than duopoly. And duopoly + MS is not really the kind of triopoly we want anyway for the afore-mentioned reason.

                So triopoly for the sake of triopoly is an absurd argument.

                • Roman

                  I meant “triopoly is not better than duopoly.”

                • Janne

                  I am not at all confident triopoly has better inherent stability than a duopoly in software platform markets. All monopolies/duopolies have lasted far longer than any of the triopolies have. Then again, triopolies have opened up the door for fourth and more entrants.

                  Take Wintel for example. For the longest of time the only viable desktop was Wintel and Apple. Then Linux managed to creep in – and now, suddenly, people are also gushing about Chromebooks (fourth entrant) and whatnot. Same story with 8-bits back in the day, extreme versatility and diversity throughout the 8-bit era. Of course web has enabled much of this – I’m not against free, standards based application platforms by the way, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking Android is one of them. HTML5 could be.

                  In gaming consoles, it was a duopoly of Nintendo and Sega for a long time – with Atari falling to the wayside quite easily (suggesting triopolies are not stable). Attempts to really hit a home run with third entrants became extremely hard, because those two were so dominant. It took a few really big players hitting it out of the park and basically wasting a lot of money to break that stranglehold. In the early 1990s, many small, innovative companies tried to enter the gaming console market and failed (3D0, Lynx etc.).

                  I think history is not on the side of the argument that a duopoly is more open for new entrants than a triopoly in software. The logic is simple really: a monopoly or duopoly usually comes with dominating percentages for one of the entrants, creating a proprietary de facto standard for software developers. But the more platforms you include, the less chance of that you see happening – without a de facto standard, developers are more fluid.

                  We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

                  And note you ignored Apple and their influence on mobile entirely. Apple as a part of the duopoly is greatly important. Apple needs more checks and balances than just Google.

                  As for Google vs. Microsoft, of course Google is much younger than Microsoft is. Beyond that, personally, I see no reason to believe they are, say, more ethical than Microsoft are. The world is awash with examples of this. Just Google it.

                  Is Microsoft an ideal third ecosystem? Of course not. Personally I would have loved to see Nokia push Maemo since 2005 into mobile and now be one of the top mobile operating systems. But without Microsoft, what I fear happening is that Android will simply become (if it isn’t already) the proprietary de facto standard mobile application platform and all other innovation will basically assimilate to that reality. How could someone like Jolla suddenly attract developers in that reality if 90+% of the market remains entrenched in Android?

                  • Roman

                    Nobody ever says triopoly will last forever or more stable than monopoly.

                    However it is hard to find a stable duopoly. (And are you seriously saying that the desktop PC market has been a duopoly? — Mac is insignificant outside of the US and also it has been gaining only relatively recently).
                    Game console market is also, contrary to what you say, a triopoly.

                    The mobile market before the apple disruption was a near triopoly at the end consisting of Nokia, Samsung and Motorolla (all other playser being insignificant)

                    But this is beside the point. Also whether Google is worse than MS is beside the point too.

                    The point is, what would happen if MS gains enough momentum to feel confident (having captured, say 30% of the market)? MS will surely try to bundle special features (and make them not available to other platforms) that will make WP phones work especially better with its desktop OS. (Wasn’t that why you were so excited about WP to begin with?)

                    At the moment, MS cannot afford to do that because the other mobile platforms are too dominant but if it gains steam, it will happen.

                    Still nobody argues for boycotting MS WP phones. It’s just that the surge of WP, when it happens, is a cause for alarm rather than rejoicing.

                    What do you say to this?

                    • Roman

                      About apple, it’s no better than MS and also do everything to make its desktop OS more friendly to iphones at the cost of others.

                      Having granted that, Apple’s presence in PC market is severly limited compared to MS. What I want you to pay attention is not that MS is more evil than others, but it has a unique position to abuse its power more than others, and it has the track record of such abuse as well.

                      For example, I’m forced to use a Windows PC at work although I really hate it.

                      All in all, don’t be blind to the special circumstance that makes it highly undesirable for MS to be successful in mobile.

                    • Roman

                      Also about Google, the kind of evilness of Google is different from that of MS. MS has been a market bully of an extreme kind (in the sense that it made its inferior product the only one available, like in the old Soviet Union)

                      Google is more dangerous in that it wants to dominate the information access. Since the barrier to entry in this sort of game is how much capable you are in amassing data and analyzing them, Google’s advantage has really something to do with its technological prowess as opposed to MS’ business acumen of the worst kind.

                      So if you want to check Google, buy an android phone but use facebook. Google is not making any money in the mobile platform itself.

                    • Janne

                      Desktop PC market certainly has been a duopoly. Mac had its tough years, but in the end, Mac has been a somewhat viable software development target for decades – receiving support from many parties, Microsoft themselves included. That said, Wintel did become a proprietary de facto standard for application development – just like I fear Android will. By duopoly I don’t, of course, mean that both parties necessarily hold equal foothold, just that they hold enough to stay in and keep others out.

                      Game console market wasn’t always a triopoly. For a decade, it was pretty much a duopoly – Atari was sidelined. Then it became a triopoly, but quickly Nintendo found itself struggling to receive third party support. Already now you can hear the calls: Nintendo should make its games for the mobile duopoly instead. And this is what healthy membership in a somepoly hinges on for me: reasonable developer support. If the percentages stop being in your favour, you loose developer support.

                      If the market becomes dominated by a single (or two) players, history has shown developer interest gravitates there much faster than when there are a diverse selection of well-competing platforms out there. And if the gravitation happens, it is really hard to introduce and build up the numbers for new software platforms, because developers remain focused on the de facto standard.

                      Mobile market before the Apple disruption isn’t really that relevant, because it
                      wasn’t really an application market then – it was a device market. What I’m talking about here are software platforms and how developer support works when there is a de facto standard on the market vs. a diverse selection of viable development targets. I fear a duopoly left on the mobile market will eventually result in a de facto standard of Android apps (comparable to Wintel), stifling out other software development platforms and attempts to introduce them. Seeing how new platforms are already coming out with Android support (even calls to Microsoft for that), it certainly seems Android is on the edge of becoming a de facto standard, a Wintel if you will, of mobile apps.

                      I think the only one in position to disrupt that momentum now is Microsoft with Windows Phone. If I considered other players as viable stopgaps, I would mention them. But for me, were Microsoft to bow out of the race, it seems obvious a duopoly would be quickly cemented and developer interest would gravitate to the duopoly.

                      That’s my fear. You seem to disagree and that’s fine.

                      I think Microsoft succeeding is a lesser fear than Android/iOS cementing a decade+ of duopoly for mobile app development. The desktop PC market isn’t the end-or-be-all anymore, so I don’t think Microsoft joining WP with Windows 8 and Xbox etc. is in any kind of position to monopolize anything new. Other players are strong enough now, to keep the competition healthy with Microsoft. And that’s good.

                    • Janne

                      Roman: I get your idea that Microsoft is in a position to abuse its power. I’m not sure that’s so relevant anymore. I think strong competition keeps that in check. But we can agree to disagree.

                      Apple and Google wield enormous power of other kind these days. And Apple has certainly introduced much more prohibitive concepts to the market than Microsoft ever used to do.

                      If you think your Wintel PC is limiting, just wait until your boss says you need to use an iPad now. :)

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