Android Apps on Windows, Again (Premium)

Microsoft is reportedly looking at allowing Android apps to run natively on Windows again. But this may be a solution in search of a problem. After all, the availability of apps on Windows is already so strong that Microsoft is having trouble moving its user base to more modern platforms. And, more to the point, the availability of mobile apps on Chrome OS and macOS hasn’t exactly moved the needle on those rival desktop platforms.

So, what’s the point?

Looked at holistically, one might argue that the ability to run Android apps on Windows fits neatly into Satya Nadella’s pledge to meet Microsoft’s customers where they are and to stop pushing them towards the software giant’s own platforms when that doesn’t make sense for them. The days of “Windows only” and “Windows first” are, after all, well behind us, having failed to propel Microsoft’s desktop platform into the 21st century. Today, Windows is more about choice than it is about locking users into a particular ecosystem.

I guess I buy into that logic, and while it’s tragic that the Windows organization of 2015-2016 was unable to make this leap when it might have really mattered---you may recall that Terry Myerson killed off Project Astoria, Microsoft’s previous effort to bring Android apps to Windows because it worked “too well”---at least it’s happening now. Reportedly.

But I still wonder about the endgame here. While most Windows users will never understand, or even need to understand, the differences between the various types of apps that run on this platform today, I think it’s fair to say that only one of them---web apps---has made much of a difference. That is, most Windows users today split their time between native (and old-school) Win32 applications and web apps. And most of those users simply run web apps inside the browser---by far the most popular application type in Windows---and don’t even think of them as apps, regardless of their capabilities. They’re just regarded as web pages.

But they’re not just web pages.

That web apps have matured greatly over the past several years is, I assume, obvious. But it is perhaps less obvious to some that web apps are poised to become the mainstream desktop (and perhaps mobile) app platform, replacing native apps. And having spent a lot of time using the web browser-based Google Stadia game streaming service recently, I’m more positive about this fact than ever before. It’s astonishing how seamless this experience can be.

But that brings me back to my original question. Why even bring Android apps to Windows? After all, web apps do solve a problem---in the case of Windows, where the user base is still stuck on Win32---and they offer a modern way forward. A way that should work equally well no matter which desktop or mobile platform you choose.

So, what’s the point?

We can only speculate. And in digging for an answer that makes sense---is there, for example, some r...

Gain unlimited access to Premium articles.

With technology shaping our everyday lives, how could we not dig deeper?

Thurrott Premium delivers an honest and thorough perspective about the technologies we use and rely on everyday. Discover deeper content as a Premium member.

Tagged with

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2024 Thurrott LLC