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Why open sourcing Windows 10 Mobile won't change anything #AskDanWindows 49

This week's episode of #AskDanWindows I field questions from users about why open-sourcing Windows 10 Mobile won't work (and why it's a bad idea), how does Microsoft Office run on Windows 10 on ARM, should Microsoft released a tethered HoloLens and more!

Audience questions Episode 49

  • Should Microsoft open-source the Windows 10 Mile platform? - ASM Khen
  • Is it possible for Microsoft to release a tethered AR headset, i.e. HoloLens but wired, so that it can be set at a lower price point for consumers? - Maxwell F
  • You intrigued me with the HP Envy x2 review. What about Microsoft Office for Windows on ARM? Is it there? How's the performance? - @atlan1504
  • How is the recent refocus on Cortana any different from Windows Mobile? - constantreader16

Thanks to everyone for the questions!

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Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

60 Comments
  • I agree that it wouldn't solve Microsoft woes in the mobile world but maybe someone can take the reins and make the third platform we all need.
  • Not happening. And really....we don't NEED a third platform. We need people to stop being fanbabies and delusional. Just buy an android or apple phone, move on, and download the Microsoft apps on said devices. It will not kill you, harm you in any way. It will provide you with a current, up to date mobile device that can do things that windows phone never could. But the fanbabies here would not see that.
  • Android and iOS are junk. So yes... In quite a few people's opinion there is NEED for a third major mobile OS. Otherwise competition dies and companies are happy shoveling junk out to consumers. I've used Android 8.0 on my Xperia XZ Premium and iOS 11 on my iPad. Neither provide the better experience compared to Windows Mobile in my opinion and many others opinions.
  • The Windows experience on Mobile might have been great ...but after moving my primary device to Android, boy did I feel like we have been missing out on more powerful and complete experiences. I used to believe we really did have the best experience but aside from the UI we really were missing out on more complete experiences and im not even talking about apps.
  • missing out on what ? slow updates ? bugged apps ? scamware ? malware ? and viruses ? oh yeah almost forgot what takes the cake, its the slowdown over the days when you get more apps over time :) .. "android" , the only features im missing on my W10M vs my android is the lack of security/updates on android oh and tethered internet feature... everything else is pretty much built on W10M that i don't really need plentyful apps to get some work done. i'm on a almost stock version of android 7.1 device that is set to recieve oreo for the last 6 months or so.. and just like me there are plenty of other brand device users who are waiting and used to doing that, but i've always been used to having updates on my WP/WM few hours or 2/3 days after the announcement of its release, so yeah imagine my suprise.. i'm just wondinger how android users are actually using this platform and dissing on Windows cause android is all over the place, and no one cant deny **** if we bring in the states of userbase fragmentation of the android platform cause you'd be looking at a small percent of Oreo/8/8.1 users vs another small amount of nougat 7/7.1 users vs another small amount of marshmallow users .. do i have to really keep going ? cause there is a massive amount of users who are on 4.4 kitkat and below that, that sums up the foundation of "quality" app requirement for any dev's development, which means safety on android as a standard is way out of line cause they cant really say that this is "the standard" cause the standard is android kitkat and thats because they are the majority and that majority of users would get next to no security updates and the apps produced for those specific platforms are clearly lacking any capability to produce a security feature that the platform itself does not support, so yeah there's my rant, enjoy reading your pants off... p.s im still waiting on my android 7.1 device to get its so called oreo update which my device manufacturer had publicly stated to do so since it "was" a top end/latest device at its release ..well least 6 months ago or so , it was.. but now, not so much cause im one gen behind the latest model which was released like three months ago ?
  • Android version updates stopped mattering a while ago. Google directly updates every Android phone through Google Play services. This allows them to add features and APIs without carrier or manufacturer involvement. Google supports at least back to 4.0 still! Microsoft doesn't support their phones as well or long. Android version updates don't bring much, especially for OEM devices with custom features. Security updates are still a bit of an issue, but if you stick to the Play Store and pay some attention to what you are installing, security is fine. Very similar to Windows desktop.
  • MrSpree, I agree and disagree. I am windows phone/mobile convert. I LOVED W10M. However, after I saw the writing on the iceberg, I left. I run apple because of the fluidity of the overall OS. Android still stutters, crashes apps frequently, and the free for all OS design is a no go. To call either JUNK however, is not accurate. The only "junk" right now is windows mobile since it's been shitcanned by Nadella and company! Your opinion and "many others"? like 10-20 people now?
  • Personally I think Apple and Android are garbage OS's that have been controlled by the government to make it easier for them to subpoena your information without a warrant. Plus the Microsoft OS is much more of the type of OS I want, closed down but also customizable to a greater extent than Apple. Android is too open. We need a middle ground.
  • Presumably you have a reason for wearing your tinfoil hat with regards to Apple and Google, but not Microsoft...?
  • Beat me to it Dan, Microsoft is just as "crooked" as google and apple there PHX. Please remove tinfoil hat and come back to earth.
  • Everyone has their choices, it doesn't mean im gonna pay apple a hefty fee for their advitising costs, to buy a product that has removed it's headphone jack just so they could call it "waterproof" , as for google on the other hand, everyone in their sane minds and who are aware of the EU issues related to how google monopilized the market(and still conspires to do so, all around the world), would clearly do their best not to back up an empire thats trying to become the darth vader of the industry, that utterly kills off innovation cause all they really did was buy and sell*cough*and*cough*roid. lastly, as for microsoft , they have been in these spot lights, if we recall the Ms office package in its glory days as it is what really made microsoft into "the king of the hills" and they faced their share of lawsuits for monopoly, they complied in agreement which had its own benefits as we see of where the sales continue to thrive on all markets, but i don't see google complying **** on anything so far.. so yeah, im not going to stick with companies that aren't heading towards the best interest of its users/consumers and for me, that best interest is our freedom when it comes to choosing platforms or devices. maybe you don't get what you might be doing but i do, cause i'll speak about the good of a platform when it is really good and the wrong doings of a company if its really bad and may cause such havoc in the future.. but right now all im going to point out is what i need to mention.
  • Microsoft spent the last 20 years doing exactly what you accuse Google of. I am sure you would never support Microsoft. Eventually Microsoft became complacent with their dominate position and fell behind.
  • Being required to telegraph all of their business strategy through the DOJ for a decade may have had something to do with it.
  • i agree on the middle ground approach..
  • stop being a filthy sheep and forcing your opinions on others would ya ? so back off chump, she/he has all their rights to choose whatever the **** they wish to, so if he/she wanted to buy/use a java based phone, thats her/his choice not yours, el comprende amigo?
  • I don't care if a company makes a third OS. I am talking about having my custom OS on my smartphone and fiddling with it.
  • It's not being a 'fanbaby' to have objections to the actions of those two companies. I for one, do not like Apple's approach, nor do I like Google's. I will stick with W10M until it fails. Then, I'll likely stay Windows and forego mobile telephony.
  • I am a W10M fan/user myself and i still use my L640 right next to my android device and i show it off with pride cause i know some features it has cant be really rivaled with :) forthe#win. I agree with danial, when it comes to MS mobile going all open source, cause that platform is pretty much gone now, just let it sink and let Microsofts other ARM based solutions solve what Mobile should have really been, there is no gain from trying to go forward with open sourcing an old windows mobile platform, sure we may see some tweaks? or certain mods? but thats all its going to go towards and that isn't what Microsoft is expecting, so its pretty much like the adobe flash plugin on android, dead and dead, people try to keep using it, but its pretty much an inconvience the longer you keep pulling it up.
  • The idea of open sourcing Windows 10 Mobile is delusional.
  • Why? Could be an interesting project to release to GitHub, considering Microsoft just acquired them. Let enthusiasts and hobbyists play around with it.
  • The people who made Eve-V (https://eve-tech.com/) made a pretty capable Surface knockoff using requirements gathered from their crowd-funding contributors. Why couldn't a company like Eve Tech make the "Surface" phone a lot of people still want? I kind of agree with the statement of @coip too about GitHub. Open-sourcing Windows Mobile... seeing that MS themselves cannot confirm its interest in pocketable mobile devices these days... would say something about it's commitment to the general philosophy of GitHub, and might calm some nerves there too. At this point what would it hurt MS? Other than a little egg on their face that a startup, perhaps like Eve-V, could do something the mighty MS was incapable of. If MS actually plans on releasing Andromeda with FULL telephony, a Zeiss camera, and a GPS that's a different story. That would be the "ultimate mobile device". But so far Andromeda is just a unicorn. So why not?
  • Because patents & intellectual property.
  • well Windows on ARM is already existing on hardware and on sale as we speak, its just the necessary form-factors that haven't been met as of yet, as there was patents revealed regarding the possible future of Microsoft Mobile returning on this W.O.A platform = Andromeda, i doubt we really need to drag a dead platform through the mud hoping to give that some kind of side dish revival treatment, Microsoft could revive the current platfrom after they produce W.O.A on mobile and make it feasable to all users, in return which may help push developers to produce proper apps for a platform that is "capable" enough to handle what they throw at it, since Micorsoft has already demo'd and actively helped produce a few consumer products that run on W.O.A which is basically the full and functional Windows 10 in emulation, so i doubt it wouldn't be able to handle most telephony/smartphone features.
  • i agree, as a WM10 user i'd say let the platform die as it is, and not create some kind of new security issue that no one really needs. i've not mentioned that i gave up on this platform cause i haven't really..least in the entirety of it, however everyone already knows about Windows on ARM, clearly we don't need another solution to a problem that no one requires solving anymore..cause of alternatives.
  • I don't see them open sourcing it either. Way to many similarities with the desktop version of windows 10 (at the time, remember "one core") open sourcing the mobile side would essentially be open sourcing the desktop version, which would mean shooting themselves in the foot.
  • this is true. But we can still dream though
  • All this talk about Cortana is so infuriating. It exists in 13 countries in 5 languages. How is it supposed to work in the rest of the world?
  • Because it's good for developers, that's why. More Cortana users means more MS ecosystem users, and thus more Store customers in more markets.
  • How many countries is Alexa in right now? 38 with limited support in most e.g. no shopping, limited or no skills, no traffic, no business search, no local news, etc. Alexa has "three" languages right now: English UK, English US, and German. This stuff is hard even for the "leader" in smart home speakers. Do you know where alexa is awesome though? The U.S. Sounds familiar.
  • Maybe the rest of the world should develop their own version of silicon valley and release their own OS's and AI's? Don't give me **** about the US having superior technology when the rest of the world has smart people too.
  • Also note that the US actively imports these brilliant minds from the rest of the world. This exceptionalist mentality is ridiculous considering their current political climate.
  • Alexa is now available in France, like Google Assistant
    a market were the Windows 10 Mobile version of Cortana and the desktop one is available, but not the Android one for obscure reasons.
  • What I'm about to say, I do so as someone who still relies on a Lumia 1020 as the daily driver and a 950 as a backup. It's too late to save Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft is slowly killing anything that provides a service TO those devices. If you felt the app gap was a thing before (which I didn't), then you most surely will. There will be no store at all for it. Once the official End Of Life comes for W10M, you can bet Microsoft will sunset the mobile store. Even sideloading will be virtually non-existent. If I actually thought Microsoft was working on making Windows into a product that morphed itself into a phone-friendly user experience when installed on a phone, so that it truly is One Windows/Adaptive UX, I might be moderately happy. But I don't believe that. Heck, they refuse to do anything to make the Windows 10 UX decent on their Surface Pro. It's absolutely user-spiteful, even in Tablet Mode (which is the mode I have all our devices in--except my dual-screen machine, because Tablet Mode disables itself...don't get me started on THAT one). You just have to give it up. Microsoft doesn't CARE about regular consumers--only the enterprise--and there IS no phone coming. If, like me, you still want to enjoy the Windows phone experience, you just have to take care of the device you have and use it until you simply can't anymore....be fine with zero support, zero future.
  • While I share your pain, I haven't quite come to the point where I've given up completely on a Surface branded device that can replace my Lumia. Killing the mobile option in the store would indeed be an extremely sad day. I don't think that will happen right now though as "mobile" also means "compiled for ARM". And I do think they're committed to Windows on ARM. I suppose they could replace the word "mobile" on the Store site with "ARM" but that might confuse normal folks who have no idea what ARM means. As for "Microsoft doesn't CARE"... I do agree that MS is being pretty calloused about this whole thing, not only to customers but to developers too. No confirmation of Andromeda... no mobile "roadmap"... or on the contrary... no official confirmation that they're giving up on mobile... everything left up to tweets and internet rumors instead... Nadella's a pretty cold blooded guy to leave everybody hanging. I mean if he reads the internet at all he's got to know that people want a Surface branded pocketable mobile device! But maybe at his level you have to learn to compartmentalize.
  • Well, I think there are wide swings in what people consider "pocketable". I can't stand large smartphones. I need a one-handed capability. Even the Lumia 950 is at the absolute high range for me. The 1020 was pretty much perfect. And once you put any kind of a case on the 950, it's like carrying a brick in my pocket. I have no use for a device that isn't very easy to carry, regardless of what it can do. I might as well carry my Surface Pro everywhere, since it gives me much more power and usable space. For me, anything in between is just too much compromise from either end. As for the whole ARM thing, I never really cared. I simply want to be able to do the things I need to do in a form factor that makes sense and for a cost that provides the value for me. If Intel can do that in a phone-like form, great! If it's ARM, great. I don't care. So far, the results of full Windows on ARM have been pretty bad by most accounts. And expensive. I'm not saying they WON'T get there. I just think they've got a ways to go.
  • Good point. I think if Andromeda is the thickness and weight of two iPhones pancaked together it's going to be a tough sell. For that reason I too would just prefer a Surface branded slate-shaped phone running full Windows Core OS on ARM, and a all leather/folio/typecover/kickstand as an accessory or included in the box (think mini HP Envy X2). I know everybody seems to think it would fail... most namely the cowardly lion Nadella... but I really don't believe that it would "fail". Sure wouldn't be the world's all time best selling phone, but it would sell. And it would inspire OEMs. But since every indication seems to point to MS continuing to wuss out on mobile, I'd be willing to consider a thicker heavier Windows Andromeda folding tablet IF it could totally replace my Lumia. I suppose I'd just start wearing good old fashioned cargo pants everywhere simply because of the side pocket in the leg.
  • "Microsoft doesn't CARE about regular consumers--only the enterprise"
    Well, except for that whole Xbox thing. Or Windows PCs, which consumers are still buying. And Surface. And OneDrive. And Skype. Or GroupMe. Or those apps on Android and iOS. Or making computing more accessible to those with disabilities. But yeah, besides that, Microsoft doesn't care about consumers. Because, as we all know, caring about consumers in computing in 2018 is only about having a smartphone.
  • I'm sorry, but with the exception of Xbox, all the rest of that is clearly becoming more and more enterprise focused. All of it. And they pretty much ruined Xbox One for me, so...
  • I agree with you & I don't understand the backlash that comes out when discussing how MS is playing more to the business & enterprise markets. It's something they've excelled at & profited off of for years. They have very few true consumer focussed products, most of them have failed or been discontinued. Which is fine. They haven't had success with consumer products, focusing on what works makes sense to me.
  • I really don't understand the argument that MS is not a consumer focused company and never has been. Almost every household on the planet has (or at least used to have) a Windows based PC in it. Some people use them for gaming. Others for writing school papers. Others for doing taxes, surfing the web, paying bills, Skyping relatives, uploading photos to the cloud, and figuring out their personal finances. After all it is called a "personal" computer. It's absurd to say that MS has never had success in Consumer. That it's always just been an afterthought for them. And that's what makes people so upset. It genuinely seems like an afterthought to this Nadella guy. Like he's flushing a once great consumer history down the toilet like a big ****! For MS to just sit idly by, resigning themselves to pc gaming and enterprise computing, and watch their competitors come in with their Chromebooks and iPad Pros and Smartphones and vacuum up the light computing market... replacing a pc in every household with a Smartphone, tablet, and Chromebook in every household is very frustrating! Case in point... a 60 year old woman I work with (in IT for land's sake) just told me how she replaced her PC with a Chromebook. "Why do I need a PC?" she says. "I have everything I need on the web". When I related her story at meeting it started a conversation amongst coworkers ranging from millenials to GenXers to the other almost-retirees... all of them in IT. And almost every one of them admitted that they hardly EVER do anything but surf the web, and pay bills on their laptop at home. For many of them it dawned on them for the first time that No! They don't need a PC anymore! There was one or two that were gamers, and swore to live and die by the PC of course, and that was a ray of hope. But they were the outliers. And I for one think it really bloody sucks that a once great CONSUMER focused company as well as an enterprise company has retreated like a bunch of cowards the first time somebody bloody gave them a little competition.
  • "Almost every household on the planet has (or at least used to have) a Windows based PC in it." "For many of them it dawned on them for the first time that No! They don't need a PC anymore!" The point of this is, 10 years ago a PC was the only option for all of the uses you list. There were no phones, no tablets, no cloud storage. "Consumers" only choice was Windows or a Mac. Period. Microsoft never really catered to consumers. They never HAD to. There were very limited choices. But to most people, Windows PCs are also extremely complex and difficult to maintain. Everyone here tends to dismiss that, because we have been using PCs for years. We are all geeks. But the vast majority of people are NOT geeks. They have never installed Windows onto a blank drive. They have never added RAM. They certainly never tracked down and fixed the numerous Blue Screen Of Death errors, like DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. They would not even know where to start. People just want to do email, text, web, photos, play games and generally USE their "personal computer". They have no interest in understanding it, just like they have no interest in how the microwave oven works. They expect to push buttons and have something happen. Phones and tablets are appliances, not "computers". Yes, I know most Windows geeks say things like "I need the full power of a real computer running a real OS" and "iPads are just toys". That's because we are geeks. The vast majority of people are not. That's why 1.5 billion phones and tablets were sold last year, and about 245 million Windows PCs were sold last year, with a good percentage of that 245 million going to businesses. The vast majority of people are using their "toys" today to do the exact same things they did 10 years ago on their "real computer running a real OS". Its not that Microsoft is ignoring consumers. It is consumers who are ignoring Microsoft.
  • Skype and OneDrive seem very stagnant, to say the least.
  • No one cares about your opinion, Dan. Please just present the news. If you want an op-ed, say this is my opinion. Personally I believe there is a space for a 3rd mobile OS. We need a 3rd option to keep competition up. If you only have 2, then there's room for complacency and lazy production without innovation. Also we need a 3rd OS that is more secure against the prying eyes of "big brother". Maybe Microsoft isn't that OS, but it would be nice to have something a little more closed off than something that nearly any hacker can access. A smaller OS following suits the bill of someone who wants security because the targets are much smaller.
  • Yes, and at the moment, that 3rd OS is Windows 10. When/if MS release W10 Core OS on ARM with CShell they will also replace W10m. Don't get me wrong, I still use my L950XL, and if MS just upgraded a few API's to support new apps and PWA's it's be usefull for a long time yet, but lets face it, there are noe exactly millions and millions of us left. If MS is actually making another move at the mobile device/smart phone market with the full Windows, or close to full as I don't know how Core OS will be, then I feel this is a better approach, and I'd rather have them spending all their recources there. And, if they wanted to support the last of the die hard W10m fans still using our phones, they could instead release W10 for ARM for the Lumia 950's at least. We know the OS runs on those phones, and MS could just help with the last bits in the puzzle to make it working...
  • Do you believe the Windows 10 LTE story that full Windows is coming to mobile devices in the future (as in brand new mobile devices running a new OS that's not mobility focused only but that crosses platforms from Tablet to phone)?
  • Yeah me too. What I want though is a Win10M open source so I can fiddle with it lmao
  • Cortana as just background feature is not much use to me. I disagree that Cortana can't be in the forefront. Samsung is doing more with Bixby and actually has some hands-free capability. As far as I'm concerned, Microsoft is just being stupid and lazy about working to bring a fuller Cortana experience on Android. It's all on THEM.
  • Interestingly Office for Windows on ARM is actually emulated x86 code. Microsoft went with this approach in order to make all plugins/scripting compatible - which was not available under native ARM office for Windows RT.
    That having said, Microsoft is using CHPE libraries for Office, which are essentially system DLLs compiled for ARM. Under normal emulation all system DLL are still x86 and need to be emulated.
    Other than that, as Dan pointed out, Office is running great on the HP Envy X2.
  • I have been lobbying for UWP 6.0 SDK to be available to W10M since mid last year. Once it has been decided not, W10M has served its transition purpose, I move on and await Andromeda OS end of this year.
  • Open sourcing W10M has no impact. Existing W10M devices are based on out of date chips. Have great time with 950XL till Andromeda OS becomes affordable
  • It is beyond saving. Honestly people, you have GOT to move on. You're only prolonging the pain for yourself.
  • Prolonging not going to Android is fine for me. And apple, never.
  • To what end though? They both have made far better phones than Microsoft. Even Windows Phone/Mobile at its peak still wasn't good enough. Why not iPhone?
  • Enterprise vs consumer focus. At this level, it is survival of the fittest among the top 3 or 4. I see Microsoft consolidating AI merging office365 and Azure with Ms graph gluing enterprise use cases as the stepping stone to prepare the ultimate battle!!!! - retake mobile consumer space in 5 years. Be patient!! Never before the future is so bright with Microsoft
  • I'm still not understanding your explanation of Cortana. On the one hand you explain that MS is going to be using the AI to assist with photo editing, etc. It'll run in the background, won't be in your face. Then a few sentences later it's about how Cortana is a digital assistant. My impression was that MS would basically repurpose/reallocate the Cortana code to focus on their AI initiatives, that's why you see Cortana having less of a front & center presence in Windows 10. But is it still planned to be a user facing digital assistant as well? Maybe I'm not explaining myself well enough- I guess I'm hearing that it'll be running in the background for coprocessing or whatever, but also be ordering pizza & updating appointments when told, is that correct? Neither correct? It can obviously do more than one thing, but is there a focus on one or the other? I personally don't use Cortana so I'm not sure where things stand with it now, just curious on what the long term focus of the software is...
  • Microsoft should (at least try to) develop Android VM/engine into Windows 10 so users can install Google Play and run apps on it (and on top on Windows 10). Even with Andromeda, Windows 10 will still be exposed to wide apps gap. I think most Windows device users will still have to carry an iPhone or Android phone with them while treating a Windows mobile device as their main device. So while Android emulator is maintained in Windows 10, Microsoft can take their time to push the adoption of PWA by app developers. Only wheb the app gaps are significantly closed, should Microsoft terminate the support of Android emulator.
  • Bingo! Microsoft's Motto: Empowering people to Do More. Adding APK's (Android apps) to Windows will allow just that; allow their customers to Do More. I would like to see Android run natively on Windows, but inside a local VM if you will so it is still somewhat separate from the rest of the OS for security and control. For example, Android would run like an ordinary modern AppX app from the Windows Store; but built in; like Edge. Edit: Developers would just have to submit their Android apps (APK's) to the Windows store; unchanged I may add.
  • Or a converter, that automatically converts APK code to native UWP code. This is probably much more difficult to achieve though; both technologically, and maybe legally. Edit: Remember, Microsoft already had been working on an APK bridge (Astoria I think it was) to convert APKs to Windows Code. Maybe it's still in the works. Does Andromeda = "Android on Windows Ultra Portable Device"? (Andromeda pretty much has the word "Android" in it). Here's to wishful thinking.
  • Personally, not tried Android VM, any good links, beside top e.g. 5 methods to run Android on Win10. Any legal issues? Should WCentral addresd this topic? I think a VM like is sufficient. Most often, to address App gap, we need to support not CPU/Gpu intensive Android apps running on emulation on W10
  • New and better title... "Why Open Sourcing Windows Andromeda won't change anything"