Microsoft + Android: It’s Time

Posted on April 12, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Dev with 124 Comments

Microsoft + Android: It's Time

I’ve long felt that Microsoft should sell its own Android handsets, replacing the Lumia lineup with devices that customers actually want. But there’s one crucial missing piece. And that piece could be revealed as soon as next month, at Build 2017.

Two years ago, right before Microsoft officially surrendered the mobile market to Android and iOS and began its full-scale evacuation from mobile handsets, I openly wondered whether Android was what I then called “Microsoft’s Plan B in mobile.”

At that time, however, Windows phone hadn’t yet been flushed down the toilet. So the focus then, as I saw it, was that Microsoft was releasing a ton of apps on Android and partnering with device makers that licensing its patents in return for bundling those apps.

Also at that time, I knew that Microsoft was working to get Android apps running on Windows phone. That effort was so successful, it was actually deemed too successful, in that it obviated the need for the Windows phone apps platform. Which, at that time, Microsoft was consolidating as UWP across all Windows 10 platforms, including the PC. So that effort was killed.

But I was on to something back then that I think is even more important today, in Microsoft’s post-Windows phone world.

“When Microsoft first started talking up the notion of universal apps that would run across its various platforms—Windows, Windows phone, Xbox One, Internet of Things embedded devices, Surface Hub, and HoloLens—I opined that truly ‘universal’ apps would in fact also run on competing devices as well,” I wrote at the time. “I figured this would mean Android primarily, since that platform is open and Microsoft has already started building support for Android into Visual Studio … Letting universal apps run on Android would open up the market to Windows-focused developers and let them leverage their existing skills and knowledge. It makes sense. And I still expect to see this happen, if not in the current generation of universal apps, then in the future.”

I still expect to see this happen. If not in the current generation of universal apps, then in the future.

Exactly.

This is that final piece. Bringing Android further into the Microsoft developer story/apps platform. But among the many things that have changed since 2015 is that Xamarin is now part of that developer story. And I’m wondering how or if that changes UWP, if at all.

Not that it matters: The real aim here—and the reason Microsoft should announce this at Build 2017—is to let developers leverage their existing skills and experiences. That is, anyone who has focused on UWP for whatever reason will be able to open up their wares to a huge new potential market of billions of Android users. That doesn’t just make up for Windows phone. It’s like Christmas. In May.

And by announcing its own phones, Microsoft could throw a lifeline to Windows phone holdouts too. Such a product line wouldn’t need to be enormously successful to, well, succeed, since Microsoft, like any other Android phone maker, could simply take advantage of the many manufacturers that already serve this market. It could simply design the devices, customize the software to be like Windows, and ship them.

It’s a win-win. Microsoft could get back into the mobile market at little risk. Developers would have a much bigger market to target. And Windows phone fans would have upgrades to consider.

There’s no time like the present. It’s time for Microsoft to end the charade and officially adopt Android in a meaningful way. In doing so, it will provide a way forward for us all.

 

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Comments (124)

124 responses to “Microsoft + Android: It’s Time”

  1. realworld666

    It makes so much sense it can't possibly be true

  2. Jules Wombat

    Well now that UWP is finally acknowledged to have failed, Microsoft should allow Android Apps (APKs) to run on Windows, Windows Phones.  Then adopt Xamarin fully to embrace  truly cross C# platform.  This would have saved Windows Phone, as Xamarin specific API would allow WP specific features like Live Tiles, Hubs etc to be exploited.


    UWP is Dead, Adopt Android

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Jules Wombat:

      I think Windows has started to run its course in the consumer world. Yes, Windows can do more than any Android or iOS device, but most people don't need that anymore. Their phones are more portable, valuable, and even more exciting than a PC. I think there will always be a place for Windows, but since the mobile effort has failed, that place just won't be in the average household, or at least not in a prominent way. In our home, the phones see probably 90% of the action, with the "real" computers picking up the slack.

    • xxxdevxxx

      In reply to Jules Wombat:


      The feature set of Xamarin forms is far away from the feature set UW(A). Especially on the graphics side.


      Xamarin is just a short term solution to stop Microsoft developers to switch to native Android/iOS languages/apis. But I doubt it's a long-term strategy. Xamarin is like Borland BCL in the years after 2k. It's just a wrapper! But in comparison to Borland BCL Xamarin forms common denominator is much much fewer, because it needs to address both Android and iOS.

      • skane2600

        In reply to xxxdevxxx:

        There are very few UWP developers out there to switch to Android or iOS so I don't think that's the strategy. I think the Xamarin strategy was to convince developers who haven't developed for UWP that they can target the viable app markets of Android and iOS and create a UWP app for "free". Of course, it's never that simple. The problem with that strategy is that the main market for iOS and Android are apps that are particularly useful on a phone. As a practical matter, those apps in UWP have no place to live given the tiny number of Windows 10 phones in the hands of users.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          MSFT would never do it, but asking for a show of hands from BUILD attendees who spend more than 50% of their paid time developing UWP rather than Win32 would be fascinating to see.

          UWP may be the only option for IoT, but how many apps for smart refrigerators or electric toothbrushes would generate any user interest on PCs, tablets, phones or Xboxes? Maybe there's a market for Xbox games on PCs (I'm not a gamer, so don't know), but I suspect there's much less interest in using Xboxes to run nongaming apps.

          The UWP ideal was always the same app running on PC and phone. Is that still realistic, or has that concept had a stake driven through its heart, then burned, then the ashes frozen, then the frozen ashes loded onto a rocket and shot into the sun?

  3. Alin Maior

    Why not make a Chromium-based Edge, then? /s

    Now seriously, that's just not gonna work. Remember that we're talking about Google? Even if MS would theoretically agree to this, they'll encounter opposition from Google. They wouldn't like UWP apps to run on Android, that would not make use of their services. I'm just fine with my L950, I don't need Google to use all my personal info the way they do on Android.

  4. Mark from CO

    Paul:

    I asked about this several weeks ago, could Microsoft release its own version of Android that has the W10 interface?  A fork I know, but it appears you are assuming this as well ("customize the software...").  But I'm not sure you've addressed all the questions.  How much of a fork results in Google saying no to its store and other related services?  Without them, the Microsoft Android phone is nothing.  

    I also think you minimize the fact that that in this approach, Microsoft is relying on Google for a mobile lifeline.  Google does not need to throw any lifeline to anyone, especially Microsoft.

    I also think you underestimate the developer response.  They are not supporting UWP now, why would they in a convoluted Microsoft/Android phone?  Microsoft has 0% mobile share.  Microsoft has 0% leverage in this market.  I would argue because of the decisions the last 3 years, Microsoft has only a little over 0% influence in the market (due to their apps, but they are only apps).  Why would developers change their business model now to help a new market entrant (which Microsoft is), that has a terrible reputation in developer minds?  Developers really had no motivation to switch to UWP.  Where is the motivation in this approach? Isn't this Microsoft/Android approach just a twist on a previously failed effort?  Shouldn't we expect the same to happen again?

    Last, Microsoft has said it does not want to be a full-in hardware manufacturer.  If they did this strategy, they would have to be fully committed.  They haven't shown the perseverance in the past, why think they will for this strategy?

    Paul, help us out on why this is more than a desperate 'Hail Mary' strategy.

    Mark from CO

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Mark from CO:

      If MSFT forked Android, wouldn't that be a tacit admission Windows failed, utterly, as a mobile OS? Would MSFT be willing to make such and admission?

      Next, how many people would be willing to buy MSFT+Android handsets? Would MSFT want to manufacture? Would anyone else? Could MSFT sell them at premium prices, or would they need to break into the market with thin or no margins?

  5. euskalzabe

    Interesting... so you're proposing that instead of adopting Android apps on windows, MS does the opposite: export UWP apps so they can work on Android by default, then release Android phones with Windows UI styling so they have their "own" phones and all the android apps + their UWP/"androidized" apps that can work on those or any other android phone.


    This actually makes a lot of sense. I'm still processing it, but it does seem to solve both problems: UWP app availability/relevance, and MS's mobile strategy relevance. MS is clearly good at emulators: XB1 emulating XB360 games, WP10 emulating Android apps - so well that it was not released to protect WP - and W10 Cloud emulating X86 apps. This should be quite doable and give MS a widespread presence in mobile. This could work...

  6. chrisrut

    I liked your analysis when you first delivered it and I like it better now.

    Examination of strategic implications can be more rewarding than trying to second-guess every tactical maneuver. MS has been re-inventing itself in the Nadella-age, and some gambits take time to emerge. MS has made darn sure that all it's good stuff runs in Android. Tweaked and tuned to their own spec... who know what good fortunes might emerge from that synergy.

    This could be very fun, actually. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. dvdwnd

    Microsoft blew it when they cancelled Astoria, i.e. Android apps on Windows Phone. Maybe they feared being sued to oblivion by Google, or they were simply plain stupid. Looking at how good WSL is, and how it actually appears to draw developers off other OS:es, I feel very sad about the fact that we never got to see what Android apps in the Windows Store would have done for the platform.


    But of course, many developers (Snapchat, anyone?) would simply have refused to make their Android apps available in the Store, even with zero effort, because M$.

    • prettyconfusd

      In reply to dvdwnd:


      Absolutely, it is a real shame they weren't given the chance (and they didn't at least keep the subsystem intact in Insider builds so we happy few could still sideload Android apps) to at least see what would happen.


      At that point it could have made the difference for phones (though admittedly Win10mobile was a bit of a mess till last summer so to really do something they'd have had to push an unfinished OS on to all their Win8.1 users and that could've done even more damage) as in late 2015 people were still using them, especially in Europe.

  8. skane2600

    Well, such a move would be consistent with Microsoft's muddled strategy of late. Is Xamarin MS's universal platform or is it UWP? Given that there's no significant demand by customers for UWP apps it's hard to see how a Android phone that runs UWP apps would raise its head over the commodity Android players. There aren't that many UWP developers either that this move would presumably appeal to. The much larger pool of general C# developers could always use Xamarin to utilize their existing skills should they decide to jump into mobile development.

    • euskalzabe

      In reply to skane2600:

      It's not that difficult to see: I would probably actually use Edge if I had it on my Android phone too so I can sync passwords, history, open tabs, etc.

      • Darmok N Jalad

        In reply to euskalzabe:

        Yes! Google knows this, so they make a browser for iOS that is just a Chrome feature set powered by Safari. It's no wonder why Chro,e has taken the lead. It cross platforms the best. Firefox has the same thing for iOS, but the Android version just doesn't seem quite there.

    • Jeff Jones

      In reply to skane2600:

      I think the main apeal could be, develop a UWP app and "run it on both Android and Windows proper". It could be slightly more appealing than "run it on Windows Phone and Windows proper".

      • skane2600

        In reply to Jeff Jones:

        With Xamarin you could run it on WP, Android, and iOS, and a special Android phone that allows UWP apps is going to have a much smaller market share than generic Android phones. Perhaps this would offer some appeal to developers strongly committed to UWP, but I don't think it's much of a motivation for those who have considered the UWP market weak.

      • Dan

        In reply to Jeff Jones:

        Well right now 'UWP' isn't universal when the app only runs on a single platform > Windows. The name doesn't make any sense at this point.

        • SvenJ

          In reply to Dan: It is Universal Windows Platform, not Universal Whatever Platform. It runs on whatever runs Windows, IoT, phone, tablet, PC, XBox. .... Not like others do much better. I don't run iOS apps on MacOS, or Android apps on ChromeOS (really, more like clever emulation. Native Bluestacks if you will)



        • skane2600

          In reply to Dan:

          UWP isn't even universal within Windows since not all UWP apps run on all devices. It's a bit like saying C programs are universal because they all use the same standard C library.

          • BoItmanLives

            In reply to skane2600:

            "UWP isn't even universal within Windows since not all UWP apps run on all devices."

            And there's the dirty little secret, isn't it.

            • xxxdevxxx

              In reply to BoItmanLives:

              Guess what? UWP apps are not meant to be universal across all Windows devices, because an UWP app could/should target device specific APIs. But UWAs have a common set of WinRT APIs and (will) run across all Windows versions on all hardware platforms where Windows 10 is available!

          • xxxdevxxx

            In reply to skane2600:


            You are confusing UWA with UWP. UWP is the Windows 10 platform layer that guarantees certain APIs for certain device families. Even Win32 or classic .NET belongs to UWP, but can only be used with the desktop device family.


            UWAs are Universal Windows Applications that targets the universal device family and can run across all Windows 10 devices.

            • skane2600

              In reply to xxxdevxxx:

              Not confused at all. The distinction you make is why UWP apps should not be considered "universal". Perhaps the phrase "UWP apps" shouldn't even be used because they are "universal" only in the sense that they access a common API which doesn't necessarily make them portable. From a user perspective the only "universality" that matters is the ability to run an app on any platform.


              By the way, only a subset of Win32 is accessible through UWP.

              • xxxdevxxx

                In reply to skane2600:


                You are still confusing UWP and _UWA_!!!!!!


                If you want a Universal Windows Application that runs on _every_ Windows 10 device like Xbox One, desktop, tablet and smartphone then you have to target the universal device family. This uses a WinRT API set that is available across _all_ Windows 10 versions on all devices where Windows 10 is available.


                UWP guarantees certain APIs across all hardware platforms. That means that a future Windows 10 on ARM (desktop or notebook) will also guarantee Win32 or .NET if yor UWP app targets the right device family.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to xxxdevxxx:

                  I've already agreed with your distinction and your statement "UWP guarantees certain APIs across all hardware platforms" is equivalent to my statement "they access a common API ".


                  But your last statement is incorrect. If Windows 10 on ARM (desktop or notebook) actually has 100% compatibility (which is a big 'if') it will run Win32 applications flawlessly but since UWP can't access the full Win32 API (even selecting the right device family) UWP apps are NOT guaranteed to be able to call any Win32 api.


                  Think about it. Sandboxing in UWP won't work if a UWP app could call any arbitrary Win32 API.

                • xxxdevxxx

                  In reply to skane2600:


                  Well, maybe it's not any possible Win32 API, but assumable the most important one. Even Windows RT could run MS Office. So I guess the number of APIs have evolved. Here is a full list:

                  https://msdn.microsoft.com/library/windows/desktop/mt186421

                • skane2600

                  In reply to xxxdevxxx:

                  It's a bit hard to know what steps MS took to get Office to work on RT unless one was involved. Was it just a recompile or did they make other changes to bypass Win32 calls that were missing? Who knows? Thanks for the link.

  9. Bats

    You know what? This blog post resulted in so many excellent responses, comments, and challenges to Paul's theory. I seriously doubt that Paul will respond to any of them. 


    I think this post regarding Microsoft hopping into Google's bed (lol), is just a way for Paul to justify his assimilation into Android. Paul is 100% a general all-purpose tech guy. He's not IT, a developer, or even data analyst. Paul just wants the latest tech for him to play with and he certainly can't get that with Windows Phone aka (in his words) the "special phone." Android has it all. The problem is, Paul unabashedly bashes all things Google. Now he's hopping into Google's bed and telling Microsoft fans that it's ok?


    I think this is the new slant in Paul's writing. I think that this is the new narrative that he's going to push. 


    And he goes on Windows Weekly to say that he's ashamed of his tech journalist colleagues? From what I see all tech writers are not not journalists. They all pursue fake news like CNN's pursuit of the "Golden Showers" story.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to Bats:

      I know I can't speak for Paul, but I think most people who got abandoned by the slow death of Windows Mobile have really felt left out in the cold in finding an alternative. Windows phones were so different that living with iOS or Android takes time. Since Apple is seen as the enemy to most Windows users, it's hard to go there. Android is a bit of a mess, and Google is a love-em/hate-em company. It's probably the equivalent of being a huge football fan and having your home team leave. Now who do you root for? After a couple tries at Android, I went with Apple, and while it's hard to be comfortable, at least the refinement is there, along with a healthy ecosystem.

      • jbuccola

        In reply to Darmok N Jalad:

        Apple takes very good care of its customers.

        Having a device several years old with a current, updated OS and tons of accessory support is worth the price of admission. When you deduct resale value and years of use, Apple's products are far less "expensive" than they seem.

  10. geronra

    Will microsoft launch an in built option to use Android on Windows 10 PC or Laptop. I have been using emulators like Bluestacks and Nox app player. Waiting for an official Android application on Windows OS.

  11. mortarm

    Given the failure of past phones, I don't see coming out with new ones, Android or otherwise, turning out any better. There's just too many other heavy-hitters out there to compete against. Coupled with their phone failure, I just don't see it taking off.

  12. melinau

    Having abandoned Windows Phone when it was clear that MS no-longer had any genuine investment in it, I switched to Android.

    At the time the excellent OnePlus 3 wasn't available, so I went with Samsung. The Hardware is good, but the "skin" on Android pretty poor. Similarly updates are slothful....


    All isn't lost, and I've done what Paul Suggested & I've switched to MS services & Apps where possible. They're pretty good.


    It seems to me that the ONLY strategy MS can follow is to embrace Android and 'make it its own'. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

    This would extend beyond 'phones and ties in neatly with how Windows Cloud might work.

  13. JimP

    "That effort was so successful, it was actually deemed too successful, in that it obviated the need for the Windows phone apps platform...So that effort was killed."


    The irony here is that killing Windows Phone also killed UWP. So, instead of saving one, they killed both, which is the worst of all possible outcomes.


    Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the decision-makers at Microsoft all sit in a room and say to themselves, "What's the stupidest thing we can possibly do?"  Each person gives the stupidest idea they can come up with and then the select the worst one.


    Think about it. They were able to screw over consumers who had invested in Windows Phone and developers who had invested in UWP all at the same time.

  14. BluetoothFairy1

    I now understand (I think) why MSFT killed off the Android bridge as it would have pulled the rug off from under the UWP. Makes sense. Not sure why other outlets were reporting that the reasons behind that were actually licensing problems, because the Android bridge was not a port, but a simple emulator, possibly infringing on the copyright of the developers.

    Be as it may...


    I'm wondering (since Android is so bad and fragmented), would it be possible for MSFT to hit a reset button "completely" and build its own UNIX-like OS, which would be able to use apps from GOOG Play store, instead of "borrowing" the OS from their direct competitor? AAPL did it with NEXT, why couldn't MSFT?


    I do realize that they put years into developing and revamping Windows, but since the dev platform is stagnant and they need to bring the devs in, ..... there already is an army of them making software / apps / services for Droid, so why could MSFT not tap into this by building a compatible OS on mobile?


    • skane2600

      In reply to BluetoothFairy1:

      I suspect that the Android bridge was cancelled for technical reasons. It probably either didn't work completely or the result was too slow.


      Creating a UNIX-like OS isn't going to make it easier to create a platform that runs playstore apps. It's not as if Android apps are calling UNIX functions directly. And the fragmentation issue wouldn't go away. But at the end of the day such an OS would be fundamentally an Android clone and would give customers no more reason to buy it than they would to buy an Android phone.

  15. waverunning.geek

    I disagree completely. Microsoft's #1 priority should be to lure devs into writing Universal Apps for Mobile/Tablet/XBOX/Holo. There's many ways they could do this, including financial incentives like giving devs 100% of the store sale for 1 year, discounts on Windows Server products, etc.


    Microsoft's Mobile OS is functionally superior to iOS and Android. It just needs a store to match.

    • BluetoothFairy1

      In reply to waverunning.geek: They've tried this for almost 3 years now and it didn't work. No matter how much $$$ incentive you throw at this, if there are not enough users (diminishing W10M) and UWP on a desktop have limited use, there isn't a critical mass of users to target. Though I sympathize with your idea that W10M is superior to iOS. I never used Droid myself.


  16. drewsuruncle

    Go ask Amazon how that fire phone worked out.

  17. hrlngrv

    Can MSFT make adequate profits selling phone hardware? It's a near certainty they can't come close to software profit margins with any kind of hardware. Apple's iPhones don't have the profit margin MSFT Office commands.

    Does MSFT want or need to make phone handsets? I don't believe MSFT's current senior management believes it does.

    If the path to making money from Android phones is software and services running on Android phones, couldn't MSFT make money from Samsung, LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc phones?

    Viewed from the Surface perspective, how could MSFT create a new type of Android phone? If MSFT could only make other high-end or middling Android phones, what'd be the point?

    Finally, how many Windows developers have focused on UWP? What if most BUILD attendees spend most of their development time making or maintaining Win32 software? What if there's little actual interest in UWP? What if MSFT already realizes UWP for Android would be as big a failure as Windows 8 turned out to be? Yes, MSFT wants UWP to succeed and become the future of Windows, but MSFT no longer has the clout to force the issue. Would UWP as a secondary and minor alternative for Android be good for perceptions of either MSFT or UWP?

  18. brduffy

    The point here, that some of the commenters seem to be missing, is that development tools from MS be capable of targeting the Android Platform. Whether or not MS sells a branded Android phone makes no difference to me. If I can easily get my UWP app to run on Android then that is worth my while.


    • hrlngrv

      In reply to brduffy:

      Would UWP for Android apps be sold through Google Play or the Windows Store? I could see Google making the latter just a bit awkward. If they're sold through Google Play, what would MSFT profit margins look like?

    • skane2600

      In reply to brduffy:

      I don't see any scenario where UWP apps are going to run on just any random Android phone. Whether or not MS sells a branded Android phone, it's going to require a special version of Android which Google is not going to provide. If the idea were to have some kind of UWP emulator app for standard Android phones, that would be a very large app and probably would degrade the performance of UWP apps that run on it. But beyond any technical issue is the fact that there isn't any demand for UWP apps on Android and not that much demand for them even on Windows.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        Thus the key weakness in the article's point: how to get this into phone users' hands?

        Get Google to do it? Maybe the year after Hell freezes over.

        Get OEMs to put a MSFT Android fork on to OEMs' phones? Yeah, so many OEMs made so much money on Windows phones.

        MSFT makes and sells those phones itself? After all, MSFT is still such a presence in the smartphone market.

        The only possibility would be MSFT putting the necessary intermediation layer into the Google Play store and having users install it on their own phones. What % of Android users would do so?

        Well, I suppose there's a extremely remote possibility that MSFT could make UWP-like native Android apps, but what'd be the point?

  19. James Wilson

    Microsoft make operating systems. Why would they release a device (which they typically don't like doing) on a competitors operating system. It's a bit like saying ' We're not very good at making operating systems'.


    The reason Windows 10 mobile isn't doing so well is that Microsoft are bad at marketing to the consumer (sorry Chris but it's true - nobody knows Microsoft makes phone software). By being secretive, slow to react to the market and initially charging for their operating system, they missed the boat. The product was great but nobody knew about it and vendors were not incentivised to sell it. The Microsoft / Nokia partnership should have worked. It didn't.


    Windows 10 mobile is still young - but in a saturated market - people need to be wowed, that's consumers and developers. With no phones to buy anymore - Microsoft will either need to spend a lot of money on a single, top of the line product that suits both consumers and business (to compete with iPhone and Pixel) - or get out of the phone business all together and just sell it's software via both Apple and Android. I don't think thee is any value in Microsoft selling a phone based on Android.



    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to James Wilson:

      Sorry but Wmobile's horrid, Fischer-price tiled UI and poor quality apps aren't a marketing failure, but a design and engineering one.

      • James Wilson

        In reply to BoItmanLives:


        The Engineering in fine. It's Microsoft's continual practice of 'going silent' on a product, drop it, then replace it with something else. Look at Windows 8.1 mobile. Silent for a number of years, no updates, then Windows 10 mobile comes out.


        Now silent in terms of marketing (to stores, to the media, product placement etc) even though updates available, new UWP apps coming out / old 8.1 apps going away etc. It's almost as though they killed it off before it even got going.


        Let's say the new iPhone 8 supported a dock and meant you could plug it into a screen and run OS X. Do you think Apple would stop marketing the iPhone 7, cancel the phones, stop advertising? Of course not. People know that, unlike business, consumer phones last a couple of years and will be replaced, especially at the lower end. If you bought an iPhone 7 just before the iPhone 8 came out - then that's your fault. Apple communicates that the iPhone will come out around September / October. People know this. They communicate with the media about product releases. Everyone except Microsoft for some reason.


        Microsoft need to do the same. Market the operating system (Windows on mobile), decide on their strategy (release an in house flagship only or release an OEM version e.g. Samsung S8 running Windows 10). Get the top 10 apps on Windows 10 mobile supported and updated (by working with the developers of these apps). Get carriers on board. Get the product above the key 15% market tipping point and get a third option into the marketplace.

      • jbuccola

        In reply to BoItmanLives:

        It was just a few months ago that you were hot and heavy on that $29 Lumia 640.

        Life comes at you fast...

  20. lordbaal1

    Microsoft shouldn't make Android phone. They are too many manufactures using Android already.


  21. lordbaal1

    I gladly stick with my Windows phone.

  22. Mark from CO

    Paul:

    A point in your article has been gnawing at me since my first response.  You said:  "Also at that time, I knew that Microsoft was working to get Android apps running on Windows phone. That effort was so successful, it was actually deemed too successful, in that it obviated the need for the Windows phone apps platform."

    So instead of moving forward with the emulation, which would have provided W10M users an array of new and diverse apps, Microsoft scuttled the effort?  Why? It obviated the need for a Windows phone app store, as if the Store was a billion dollar business.  Really???? No, what Microsoft was really saying was screw our customers. 

    I would argue that this decision, if it was indeed all about the Store, also screwed Microsoft.  I think a case could be made that Microsoft, with the emulation, could grow W10M market share, as the app gap would have disappeared.  It would have been a slog no doubt, but at least Microsoft could compete on who has the best underlying OS.  If OEMs (and Microsoft) built compelling phones, they would find customers.  As the W10M platform gained more share, UWP app development actually becomes a more attractive option to developers.

    This actually scenario, despite its drawbacks, seems more realistic than thinking that a Microsoft Android phone that runs UWP Android apps will be a magic tonic that turns Android developers (who probably are also producing iOS apps) into UWP developers.  FACT: There are effectively no UWP developers out there to jump start this.

    Mark from CO

  23. Spineless

    "Run UWP apps on Android using the new Windows Android Runtime"

  24. prettyconfusd

    Absolutely correct, and something I remember discussing with friends a few times last year.


    They just have to skin Android to look and work like Windows 10 - I love the Android app store and OS features but good grief do I find the OS a pain to deal with!

  25. truerock

    So, yes - this Thurrott article is absolutely correct. But, of course individuals have been writing that Microsoft needs to start delivering an Android variant in Thurrott comments for years. So, Thurrott's article is several years behind the curve.

    So, now that we have most people (and Thurrott) finally saying that Microsoft should switch to Android it would be a good time to point out the downside:

    1. Android is controlled by Google
    2. Android is a crappy Linux distro

    There is a distinct problem in that iOS is significantly superior to Android - mostly because Android was never meant to be a smart phone iOS until Google realized they needed to copy iOS instead of Windows and Blackberry.

    It would be in everyone's interest if Google, Microsoft and Samsung got together and created a new OS specifically designed for touch GUI and other modern requirements. And for the good lords sake... hopefully they would realize that they would need to copy iOS as closely as they could do so legally.

  26. RichardP

    Great!

    More Andoid phones to add to the Android nightmare it is presently with all these different devices that nobody even know thet run Android because they're too different?

    Not sure it's a good idea.

  27. Jwilcox1701

    Meh, I'd rather have iOS than Android, and I hate Apple.

  28. harmjr

    YES and I want to have a Windows 10 theme. No Arrow launcher.

  29. Brian Devins

    I feel the only piece missing is a Windows Phone style launcher. I know Microsoft has the Arrow launcher but it doesn't give enough unique value or visual impact as compared to the dozens of other Android launchers. Let's see a tile-based Android launcher similar to the Windows 10 Start menu.

  30. Bart

    Paul, with the Windows Store being an app, do you see MS bringing that to Android as well? All Android app devs need to do is publish in that store and people can run with it?

  31. JustinMSalvato

    The truth of the matter is, if Ballmer was still running things, Windows Phone would still exist, would still be a low market share, but it would be going up, very slowly. 7 - 8 percent worldwide by now I'm sure. Thousands of people laid-off under Nadella would still be working under Ballmer. While Nadella deserves credit for pushing Microsoft onto competing mobile platforms, Ballmer deserves credit for keeping the Microsoft fanboys happy. Heck, Paul may still be using a Windows mobile device today if that was the case.


    Ah, but that stock price huh?? HUH???! Pfft.

    • Bart

      In reply to JustinMSalvato:

      What do you base your prediction on that it would be going up? Because we had new phones coming and marketshare still went down. Even in popular markets like Italy, Spain, Germany and the likes. Very curious to your argument

      • JudaZuk

        In reply to Bart:

        actually market share was going up, until Microsoft with its new leadership decided to sabotage it. It was not going up in the US, but it was in UK and many parts of Europe, and also started going up in Latin america... but Microsoft has shown time and time again, they only really care about US.

        In Italy it even overtook iPhone , and UK started to pick up...but it all fell apart fast when they stopped marketing it in Europe and even actively showed they didn't care about these markets. Global market share did not move up much but if you want to succeed you focus all efforts in markets you already have traction in first, go all out and forget the rest for awhile until you have a stable market somewhere. Microsoft did the opposite instead, they ignored successful markets and focused on a market that they so far failed in, and Nokia already had failed in years before, and tried to battle in US...destined to fail.

  32. Martin Pelletier

    Now I see why Microsoft pushes Xamarin so much :) It will eventually replace UWP.

  33. kjb434

    The biggest reason im holding out from switching to Android is Google. If MS produces an Android handset the decouples Google from the OS, I'm on board.


    Give me an Android device that uses my MS account as the login, with Cortana and Bing as default.


    Cyanogen was going down this path and stopped. MS could easily do it. If they could port Android apps to work in Windows Phone, it means they can replicate the Google specific API hooks from Android apps. Doing this within Android could work also.


    • Brian Devins

      In reply to kjb434:

      That would be the opposite of what this article suggests. The last thing the public wants is to be decoupled from Google and its voluminous app store. Microsoft has been bending over backwards to populate Google's and Apple's app stores with valuable content; to exist harmoniously in those rich ecosystems.

    • Darmok N Jalad

      In reply to kjb434:

      Just not sure how feasible this is, as you either need your own AppStore or run Googles Play Store (which Google won't allow if you are de-Googling the OS). Amazon is trying/ has tried this with limited success, and my experience in the past had Amazon versions of the apps not getting updated as frequently as Play store. If Amazon can't build clout in the Android space, what hope is MS going to have, especially since they have a long history of abandoning their mobile efforts? Nadella has set them up for mobile failure by not having a clear plan.

  34. CompSciGuy31415

    And they could really "wow" us with the 42MP camera that the 1020 had on it.

  35. creugea7

    So with this thought from Paul (which makes total sense & should of already been done by now) what if we go one step further and see MS doing there own customer ROM and make it available to owners of already owned WP hardware like the 950 & 950XL??? Think about that. There is no reason they couldn't do it. The hardware is plenty powerful enough to run it. Plus it would make those people somewhat happy that they do not have to buy a new phone when theirs are perfectly fine. Just a thought.

  36. jbuccola

    Agree. There are a dozen half measures MS has made towards Android that feel so tentative.


    The developer tool sets are a great start, but I'd suggest they go further with an experience that truly feels like an extension of Windows and its cloud services, possibly with a custom image.


    Today that effort is broken into several apps and the experience is far from cohesive.


  37. adamcorbally

    Microsoft is the new ibm Paul, they don't need a consumer platform play, time to move on :)

    • BluetoothFairy1

      In reply to adamcorbally: Interesting idea, but look where IBM is today vs where they used to be. Their partnership with Apple is a lifeline for both companies when it comes to Enterprise. Becoming the new IBM would mean to probably lose Office, definitely Xbox and other consumer services. Think about kindergarten kids of today. They are mostly served Chromebooks, use Google Drive and their apps. My kids have no clue what Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote even is. Do you really think they'd miraculously start using MSF services when graduating from school?
      MSFT can definitely become the new IBM 10 years from now, if they axe the consumer branch and focus on enterprise - it'd be a shadow of its former self. Keep in mind that they are a publicly traded company. Would any CEO be able to do radical trimming and keep their seat? I'm having my doubts.


    • TheOneX

      In reply to adamcorbally:

      I disagree. While their primary focus should be on business, taking that route will ultimately result in the death of Microsoft. It'll take a while, but it would happen. Just look at IBM, every year they are less and less relevant. This isn't the 90's where your home computing choice is based on what you use at work because home computers weren't really used all that much. In today's world, and going into the forseable future what people want to use for work is based on what they use at home. Most business that want to incorporate tablets don't buy Microsoft or even Android tablets, they buy Apple tablets. Businesses don't buy employees Blackberries or Windows Phone, they buy iPhones and Androids. Not because those tablets and phones are actually better for what they are doing, but because those tablets and phones are the ones the people using them want to be using. if you limit yourself just to business consumers, eventually you will lose the business consumers to the new hot trending product.

    • wolters

      In reply to adamcorbally:

      I've made similar comments in other forums and got dogged for it. But with their focus on the cloud, I can't help but agree that it may be going the way of Big Blue. I want to be wrong...

      • Micheal

        In reply to wolters:I completely agree, been thinking about this for a long time even been brushing up on my Linux skills. Don't get me wrong I love Server 2016, W10 and dare I say W10M but something smells very BAD and its only getting worse update by update. We need the new Bill Gates, Paul Allen to rise up and do to MS what they did to big blue and mark my words its inevitable.


  38. Omega Ra

    I can see it. A Microsoft Android phone tweaked like how Samsung does it. Custom launcher/UI preloaded MS apps...Could be interesting. Especially since the S8 and "dex" basically takes over for continuum

  39. dstrauss

    How nicely this all coincides with Windows on ARM and Microsoft's strong support for DeX on the new Galaxy S8 series - are we beginning to see any patterns here?

  40. dhallman

    There is a lot of work to do to make this appealing to Windows users. First, here in Canada, Cortana is still not available on IOS or Android and other apps like Movies & TV are missing in all markets. Yes, this can be fixed. But it has been years or waiting already.


    How close to Win Phone/Mobile can they get on Android? Could they use the Android open source code as a base then add UWP/Live tiles/Continuum so what is available is not lost? Can they add in the rumoured Win 32 emulator allowing legacy programs, UWP and Android apps?


    If they could do all that and secure the platform to enterprise levels they may be on to something. Use what is available to everyone and enhance it with MS proprietary compatibility and better security (or embrace and extend as they used to say), And of course, finally get international users on par.


    I would retire my 950XL for that. But no less.


  41. mikefarinha

    What about the other way around? What if Microsoft were to put Universal Windows Apps on Android... somehow... perhaps through the Cortana app. If a developer could develop a UWA that works well on Android and gets additional UWA benefits like Continuum and Windows 10 desktop support would that be enough to lure them over?

  42. harmjr

    They could make a Dual Boot Android/Windows phone that on arm chipset.

  43. SDreamer

    BUILD 2018 - Microsoft dumps Windows. Tells developers to make plug-ins for Office because that's the only thing that makes money.

  44. wshwe

    I largely agree with Paul. In the end it wouldn't have much effect since there are so few Windows Mobile developers left. Windows 10 Mobile marketshare is trending towards zero lol.

  45. Vidua

    Total nonsense. WSL exists. Android is already part of Windows 10. It would be far more reasonable to enable Android apps back in Windows Store.


    People don't like Android. They like Google Play Store. Microsoft made Android phone would still not have that, no YouTube, no Google Maps, no Snapchat. It changes nothing. Unless you want them to put Google Play services which is next level of insanity.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Vidua:

      Doesn't matter whether people like Android or not, they BUY Android phones in the billions.

      Money is what matters. Android makes phone manufacturers much more money that anything MSFT has come up with.

    • MikeCerm

      In reply to Vidua:

      A Microsoft-made Android phone could have all of Google's services, as well as all of Microsoft's services built in. Samsung phones include their own services and app store in addition to Google's offerings, and many other handset makers do the same. Microsoft should do exactly the same thing. Why not! If ever there way a plan for a Surface phone, this is the only way it can work. Continuum would work just the same at it does now -- attach a screen, get access to a Windows-like environment that lets you use Office and other UWP apps on something that looks like a Windows desktop. It won't matter to users that it's not really full Windows, because it's first and foremost a phone.

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to Vidua:

      "People don't like Android"

      Found the MS employee. Newsflash: Android is the windows of mobile, Paul said it himself. People like open and customizable like they always have on Windows desktop - something MS tried to do away with on Wmobile, to their detriment.

  46. Ian Too

    From my own little piece of Hirohito's mighty empire, let me be the first to say I think you've taken leave of your senses, Paul.


    I completely agree with the extension of UWP into Android. This would help consolidate Windows as the app developer platform of choice and if Microsoft can make it easy to port Android apps to Windows, bolster UWP. Fine no problem.


    But building their own Android phones?


    Don't get me wrong, despite being a Windows Mobile holdout (& why should I stop using a device which meets my needs?), I'm not offended by this idea. I just don't see why Microsoft would want to take on the development and maintenance costs of whole line of devices when they've just been bitten so hard in the mobile space. What can Microsoft bring to the table that can entice people away from Samsung, LG or even Nokia?


    You also seem blissfully unaware of why many people chose Windows Phone over Android in the first place: Android is a security disaster waiting to happen. Have you never heard of Stagefright? A series of flaws still relevant, because though patched by Google, many Android devices are still running unpatched, because OEMs aren't passing on the updates?


    More recently, there is the Broadcom chip vulnerability, which Apple patched with the latest update, but Google have yet to address. Once they have patched this, how long will it take for the fix to percolate or will history repeat itself and the vast majority of users be left high and dry?


    Then comes the difficulty of giving your information to Google, or do you expect Microsoft to run their own app store as well?


    All I can see is another $7Bn right off for Microsoft. 


    Finally, given Microsoft's record for abandoning users (Surface RT, WP7 to WP8, WP8 to WM10, etc...), who would be mad enough to buy Android from them? 

    • dstrauss

      In reply to Ian Too: Why would this have to be any different than Google "designing" its flagship phone for "pure Android?" Commission HTC to build it for them (remember, they made the BEST Windows Phone the Tilt 2 slide out keyboard phones), and drive their version of Android to the unwashed.


      • Ian Too

        In reply to dstrauss:

        Nothing at all. That's what's wrong. HTC are notorious for not supporting their devices, so whatever security skeletons lay in Android's future won't be patched for the vast majority. The same goes for almost all smartphone makers.

        Add to that that the smartphone market has reached saturation, it seems like a really good way for Microsoft to throw away more money not selling phones.

  47. JudaZuk

    there is absolutely no reason for Microsoft to make phone with Android on them, why? Because Microsoft does not want to make hardware, except the Xbox and keyboard etc.

    All Surface devices exists for one thing, promote Windows 10, and Microsoft services, and inspire OEM partners.

    Same goes for Phones like Lumias, they existed only to promote Windows Phone and Windows 10 mobile, and hope OEMs would make them.

    Come on Paul you know this

    If Microsoft would abandon Windows 10 mobil, and they are not, there would be no point for them to make any phones

    It might be that Microsoft eventually will stop making phones, signs are that that will happen, but Windows 10 mobile is still actively being developed, updated and supported. I just got a new build last night. Now Windows 10 mobil might be used for other things then phones in the future, but it is still Windows 10, so they are not killing that so far

    Microsoft are already pushing their software solutions and services on iOS and Android via different manufacturers like for instance Samsung. They do not need to make their own hardware running Android to do that.

  48. Waethorn

    I think people have been too cheesed by Microsoft's previous attempts at mobile to get back into that boat again.

  49. BoItmanLives

    No thanks, Microsoft would only find a way to lame Android up and ultimately bring it down - like a fat accountant putting on a Harley jacket, he'll never be cool.

    Microsoft should do their own homework, not copy Google's for the millionth time (Bing, Cortana, etc). They're a massive monolithic software corp, no reason they can't unless they're just that poorly managed.

  50. xxxdevxxx

    Thurrot continues to refuses the fact that it's not that simple or possible, because this would require Microsoft to modify Android and ship it's own Runtime. They could do this, but not with Google Android with Google Playstore and Google services!!!!!!!!!!11111111


    So, no one other than Microsoft would use this custom Android with no Google services. Next problem is that Android developers still need to port Android apps to UWA on Android and to Bing etc.

  51. dnation70

    windows operating system on my android???...lmao

    • BluetoothFairy1

      In reply to dnation70: I'm not a developer and don't know the technical aspects and barriers of this, but what if they built their own version of OS from scratch? Not based on Droid, but compatible with droid apps, so devs could deploy them on both systems all at once?


    • SvenJ

      In reply to dnation70: Nobody said anything about a Windows OS on your Android. That doesn't even make sense as Android is an OS not a device. Could have a MS flavor of Android on MS piece of hardware. Their are numerous Android distributions, just as there are numerous Linux distributions. No reason MS couldn't build one, though they shouldn't. There is no shortage of android distributions they could leverage, or OEMs that are willing to MS-ize their android-ish devices.


  52. rossgellen00

    I have been using emulators like Bluestacks and nox android emulator. Waiting for an official Android application on Windows OS.

    This would extend beyond 'phones and ties in neatly with how Windows Cloud might work.


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