Microsoft has new plans to close the Windows 'app gap', Android support still possible

Microsoft will be making a new push to close the 'app gap' that currently exists between its Modern apps for Windows and Windows Phone and apps made for iOS and Android by attracting more independent software vendors (ISVs). However, a new report claims that Microsoft is still considering an option that could allow Android apps to run in Windows 10.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, using her unnamed sources at Microsoft, says that it is currently unknown when Microsoft will give the ''go-no go" to allow Android app support in Windows 10 but that it is still a possibility. In the meantime, Microsoft is sticking with "Plan A"; the Universal App program that will allow developers to create apps that will run on any version of Windows 10, from the smallest smartphone to the largest all-in-one PC.

Foley also posted word that Microsoft's Developer Experience team will be reaching out to students, startups and developers that have previously not supported Windows to ask them to create apps for the platform. She posted part of an internal email that was sent last week by Microsoft's Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer, who also leads the Developer Experience team:

"DX has built a global ISV management capability over the past 18 months and now we will extend that capability to manage top ISVs in the field. In partnership with WPG (Worldwide Partner Group), we will also develop a broad programmatic approach to reach and engage a broader set of ISVs that scales from higher touch programs and offers through to self-service with MPN (Microsoft Partner Network). We must be selective in how we look at ISVs to drive the greatest adoption of our cloud and mobile platforms. We will no longer define ISVs in the traditional sense."

Foley adds that the DX division is forming a new ISV team, saying, "That team will encompass app launch services, app performance, Microsoft Ventures and the existing ISV Alliance team."

Source: ZDNet

474 Comments
  • If they enable this it is the end of ALL Windows as why would anyone develop for anything other than Android.
  • Actually, even if people keep developing for Android they would have an opportunity to launch those apps on Windows without much extra work. This would be beneficial for Windows platform considering its current market share.
  • Pushing cross platform is the future, but not by dissolving Windows
  • I know what will solve all our problems... The Amazon Fire Phone.....*weeps over sales figures*
  • Well of course MS could push developers to make native WP apps. Say, Instagram. Their Android client would work nicely with Android emulation, but would get less revenue (or none if they block Android apps from reaching ad servers) from Store purchases (current ratio is  80-20 I believe, for the developers, Android apps could go for say, 60-40 for MS - they were the ones who did  the majority of the work enabling Android apps, so the lazy devs should not use it that much). This would provide a compatibility layer, all the while pushing app developers to make a native client that integrates better and earns them more money. This way, devs can test Android version of the app to see the level of outreach on the WP platform, and determine if its worth to develop a WP app. Also let's not forget those apps that were pulled from the Store lately - looking at those banking apps by Chase and BoA. While I myself am not touched by these issues, as I do not even live in the US, I can understand the pain of the current users. Now these apps could be ran easily with an Android runtime.
  • Ooh please, enough of this nonsense, how will wp in any way be unique if we were to use android apps, give all the MSFT apps such as office, Skype, msn apps, Cortana to ios and android, and in return only get a big load of bull crap from google android and ios users!!! They will keep laughing at us as they have always done.
  • ^^^ This!!! The fact that Microsoft is even considering Android app support digusts me. Where is the vision they had for Windows Phone and Windows we all came to love??? It supposed to be different, personal and to offer a unique user experience not seen on other platforms. If the Android uglyness will "invade" the Windows world, it ends right there and then and it will be the end of the platform as we know it. Please Microsoft, be sensible here and consider the Windows platform as one of a kind and keep it that way! There must be other ways to close the app gap. Rome wasn't built in a day, same goes for the Windows ecosystem. In the end it will be superior, combining all the Microsoft products to ONE Windows, making the competition fall way behind. Developers will come lining up, I'm sure. Please Microsoft, please...
  • I agree but these developers dont even want to develop for MS. All they see is IOS and android. Us contacting these developers dont seem T help either
  • Pebble is a prime example of this, I tweeted asking if they'll ever develop an official app for Windows Phone and they said that they are only focusing on Android/iOS and pointed me to an indie app, problem is though, that app doesn't support text/call notifications etc so there's not much point in it. I think it's going to take a long time for developers to even consider WP, if at all! Tis a shame really :/
  • Even if they tell you they are not planning a windows app at this time, your email to them may still prompt them to change their mind. I had asked all recipes.com to update their windows phone app to include my recipe box and they responded saying they were not planning any updates to the app, but about six weeks later they released the update that includes the recipe box as requested.
  • ^^^This.  The thought that MS is even considering adding android support piss me off to no end.  I love my Windows Phone, and can't wait for the W10 preview for devs to start.  But if they add support for android apps, they will kill WP.  MS as a whole already gave up on WP, giving mobile apps to android and iOS before its own product.  If they do this, then I'm switching to iOS. F' android, baaa says the isheep.
  • This^^ if it wasn't for the uniqueness of WP with live tiles etc, then I would have left Windows Phone for IOS light years ago. Lol
  • The fact that they have not come out and vehemently denied the rumors does not bode well because 1. it means they're actually considering it, 2. even if they (smartly) reject the idiotic idea, until then, developers will have almost no incentive to make Windows apps because all their work would be for naught if Microsoft ultimately enables Android apps to run on Windows.
  • Exactly what I was thinking. Surely, this must confuse any potential new app developers....imho......why bother designing a Windows App when you can just develop for Android and MS will use those, or, will MS stick with Universal Apps??? This does need clarification by MS or they will possibly annoy developers who work on Universal Apps, when they had no need too?? IDK
  • Absolutely correct.
  • Though I agree that WP Apps have a beautiful design theory behind, truth is, Microsoft is struggling to stay relevant in the market. Not sure what else they can do to motivate developers other than pay them a bounty to create an app. Even then the apps that were created were just made to collect the money and were not upkept. Then we have users who "love the windows phone OS" but are not willing to use it because there is one app they want to use that's only available on the other systems. Which I understand, I used to have the same problem with MAC when people wanted me to switch over and at the time the big thing that kept me from making the move was the lack of support for games and applications. This was before OSX and intel support. I think that if we really want companies to develop for windows phone as users we need to express it. On twitter, blogs, etc. I don't have the technical ability but i think a really interesting project would be to have a website that lists apps and lets users sign in and click "REQUEST THIS APP for windows Phone" or w/e phone. I'm sure that if the companies start getting daily floods of emails with requests for apps for the OS they are not supporting that they would definitly look into investing into it. Right now they look at Marketshare percentages and make decisions based on that. I am sure there are other factors, but this could be definitly a good start. Microsoft's new atitude is great, though I'd love for developers to develop specifically for Windows Phone also, they do have their limited resources and if they make us pay for their apps (not everyone is willing to shell out .99 cents for them.) So I guess at least allowing WP to run android apps is a temporary solution for time being. If this did affect market share positively, then we might just have in our hands a shift again in where developers spend their time and effort.
  • Honestly though, Android looks light-years better than it did a few years ago. My issue is that I have no problems switching between platforms which makes it difficult to remain a loyal WP user especially when apps are more feature rich and better supported in Android.
  • With proper quality control standards and minor modifications to include unique features of Windows and windows phone the Android apps can help the platform. What I mean is allowing Android apps is okay if developers include features of notification center and live tiles on the apps. If the app doesn't perform well with Windows platform, don't allow it. Including ms ad support in this apps can earn revenue for Microsoft. For users of Android platform this can give a similar experience as they get in Android, which can help boost up the market share. Think of it as higher quality apps that can be developed by making minor modifications to existing apps on Android to include unique features of Windows phone, at the same time making revenue for ms and increasing market share of Windows platform while decreasing the app gap and time gap between the release of an android app and windows app that currently exists. I believe MS should cash on the spread of Android by using Google's weapon (large portfolio of apps) against them. For me this makes more sense...
  • This. I'm someone who's in love with the WP design language and have used and put my faith in the platform for two years now but my patience is running out. Allowing Android apps to run on WP while controlling for quality would solve this (and let me stay on the platform) and give WP a potentially huge boost.
  • Developers are driven by $$$. There is little $$$ to be made on Windows Phone. How is this something MS will want to continue doing if there is little to no platform adoption?
  • Well said. It's like they are lacking vision.
  • I don't think I've ever seen this much delusion in one post. WP is on the verge of do-this-or-die. If *allowing* Android apps to run on WP is the way to go then it is the way to go. Native universal apps will still be there and given the chance to grow but there's no realistic way to close the app gap in a timely manner otherwise.
  • Last time I checked, there are a lot of apps that do not follow the"metro design language". Most games do not need to. Would you rather have a web wrapper? As long as the current ones are maintained, I will take the android version for apps that are non existent, as long as they work. there are enough core apps available, that the rest of them would fill the gap. No more excuses to use a windows phone. If android ran as smooth as windows phone, I would be using that.
  • I totally agree with you. Android support will make Windows cheap.
  • How did this work out for Blackberry adding android suport ? they got 0 users and actualy they lost users. What MS needs to do and if they can even do this is use Visual Studios to create apps and extract them to WP, Windows, Windows Tables and IOT like the Band as well as extract teh code to run on android so Visual Studios is the one place to create the apps but run everywhere even andorid. MS does not want people using Google dev tools to run apps on windows. that would kill MS.  
  • I think people are looking at it wrong. The reason it didn't work for Blackberry is because as a whole, people had moved on from Blackberry. Where WP differs is that they have a growing user base of low-end phones that BB never went after. As far as everyone getting upset about MS possibly using Android apps...please tell me the reason you stay with WP isn't for the apps! Lol. Personally, I stay because of the Live Tiles, Cortana, the Polycarbonate Lumia phone, and the superior photo quality. Give THOSE things to Android, and then I might jump. If people who are already using WP and jumped because they add more apps (albeit Android apps) then they must not love WP for the reasons I stated. Closing the app fap is only one part of the problem. The thing almost as important, if not more is retaining the people that you got. If current WP's are to be upgradeable to Win 10, then why don't we have a true flagship out right now? Why are they seemingly waiting until late summer/fall to release a genuine flagship? I've had my 920 for over two years now, and it's a shame that I'll have to possibly wait three years before being able to upgrade. And as I see new phones being released on Android, the temptation is there. I still have faith in MS that Windows 10 will be something special and because of the reasons I stated earlier, I'll hang in there.
  • I think you are totally correct on this most people had Blackberry as a corperate phone and people started leaving them well before they were able to support Android. I think the momentum was such that nothing could prevent their decline. I must say their new phones look great and I would consider taking one as a corperate option now they support Android APPS..    
  • Agreed
  • Well I'm here for all those reasons, plus I don't want Google and Android Developers having access to my personal information, nor to sell it to third Parties. Lets not forget, the ONLY reason Google exists is to sell You to companies and people you probably don't want knowing anything about you.
    Running crappy, non-Modern identity theft software on my phone is NOT a feature I want to see added.
    If you combine this with a continued lack of high end phones and high end photography capabilities, I'll have to move to Apple, once they get Siri to copy Cortana's functionality.
    Low end phones + Identity Theft = no interest for me.
  • Wow. Did you get a new tinfoil hat for Christmas?
  • Yes
  • It's a phone, who cares.
  • ^ this s Choudhury. I would be SOOOO upset if they started running Android apps. It would probably be the ONLY thing that would force me over to Apple, which I DO NOT want to do, but at least they have a solid vision and aren't waffling about with really stupid ideas
  • How would Microsoft cash in on Android apps running on Windows? Would the experience be as good on Windows as in Android? Wouldn't this kill Windows phones? Think of the UI... Material on modern? Wouldn't this confuse the shit out of consumers?
  • It would do the opposite because of Volume...  so if Windows Phones was selling 25 million a quater instead of 5 million a quarter then the number of native APPS would also jump because developers would want to stand out on the platform. Windows Phone as some great unique feature that people love but most people will not look past their lack of APPS.  Microsoft basically do not care where their Services are running but they need Windows Phone as a kind of protection in case Google or Apple decided to block or restrict Microsoft Services in the future... We already have a combination of Modern and Standard stye APPS so I don`t see the issue and in fact people coming from Iphone or Android would likely prefer to use an APP interface the are use to for things like SNAP CHAT, INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK etc...    I have a Galaxy Note 4 as I am waiting for Windows 10 before going back to Windows Phone and the APP Choice and Quality is better thats just a fact..  
  • But we're not using WP to have apps with no live tiles. If I wanted apps that didn't support live tiles, I'd just get an iPhone and have way more apps than Android. It's not just apps. It's API support.
  • Not all apps need live tiles.
  • The key is W10.  If MS can move all the existing Windows PC users over to W10 quickly and massively, the 1.5 billion W10 users will be all ready to run and purchase the Modern UI apps.  No ISVs can afford to ignore the W10 platform.  Universal apps will be their obvious choice for app development path.  WP can't fail even it wants to.  By the time the W10 is released, the WP apps should reach close to 500K.  Most of top apps should be all available to W10 phones except games.  MS could allow Android games to run on WP to broaden the appeals of WP.  The Live Tiles is the main draw for WP apps except games.  In the mean time, MS should encourage aggressively the development of W10 games based on its DirectX 12 and Kinect sensors to absorb ISVs.  You have to fire from all chambers to fight the app war.
  • no, there's much difference in performance between native apps and apps that run in a virtual layer
  • android apps run in a virtual layer on android. So no different, really.
  • Are you from this planet!? There are plenty of those that use computers to work with programs like .net or corel, or SQL Admin... etc. They just talk about small apps that doesnt exist on windows, mostly games... i think.
  • This is one of those nexus moments. I think the right approach is pushing cross platform development like Xamarin, building more Android support into Visual Studio. Once you say we support Android apps on mobile devices why develop for Windows given Androids market share? Once all apps are Android why do we need Windows. Yes, we're talking a 10 year or 20 year transition for the desktop, but mobile is the future. Change that you change the desktop ultimately.
  • End of all windows? I think it would be a nice idea ;) windows wouldn't die, lots of customers will like the UI of windows and won't have to worry about not having enough apps
  • They should at least wait for w10
  • Exactly. Isn't the universal nature of Windows 10 supposed to be what ends the app gap? Developers can code an app that can then run on all devices--desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, tablets, phones, Xbox consoles, (and, if Microsoft were smart, televisions). If that doesn't bring developers into your ecosystem, then nothing will.
  • For all we know, Microsoft may have already started reaching out to some major third party developers/services, and received responses that they didn't like,  i.e. no Windows 10 apps in the near future. That may be why 'Plan B', running Android apps in Windows, is still alive inside Redmond.  I'm thinking that somebody like Nadella, who had already been against the Nokia acquisition, and is probably still looking for a way to ditch that division, would be all for that.
  • Why couldn't I just run blue stacks on Windows 10 and run all the damn Android apps that I want?
  • Some graphics cards are not compatible with bluestacks..!! And folks without one can't even run bluestacks on their Windows..!!
  • What graphics card you're on? :P
  • Like ye don't know..!! AMD Radeon R9 980x and NVIDIA GeForce/GTS 250..!!
    And it works in mine..!!
  • Personally I think that Android app support, if Microsoft do decide to go with it, should be an optional component. In much the same way as VPN support is on WP, you need a plugin from a VPN provider, they could make Android support into a plugin that needs to be downloaded first. This would mean that those who want it can use it without it being integrated into the OS.
  • Exactly..They should implement it as a secondary option..!!
  • Why can't they just make it a plug in for the Spartan Browser?
  • Because Spartan is a Web Browser, I'm talking about OS support instead.
  • You could, but the average Joe cannot
  • No, damn it, Microsoft! Just no!
  • Then folks and devs will stick to droid only..That's my say..!! Like others said no one will develop for Windows as application making in droid is much simpler..!! And apps specifically made for an OS and apps ported from other OS has a difference..!! That might be a temporary option for closing the app gap or it might be implemented for just some specific apps..!!
  • Actually, developping for Windows is much easier. In fact, Microsoft has THE best developping tools of every platform. Developping for Android is a pain, just check the internet.
  • I second that the Microsoft development tools are the best available for just about any development task you need to complete. However, I would argue that, when compared to developing WPF, Windows Forms or WebApps; Windows Universal, WindowsRT and Windows Phone are some of the MOST difficult to write. I'll admit, I haven't tried writing a WindowsRT HTML5+JS app yet, but I just can't get past the ramp up. Perhaps I just need a good course...
  • Exactly..Code writing is a pain though Microsoft gives the best tools and support it doesn't gives a lotta flexibility (not in all cases)..!!
  • That's your say..And I say it's the opposite..!! Plus many devs will have to learn making apps in Windows first..So rather they would stick with droid..Their current 'home ground' in a way..!!
  • it is exactly the opposite. MS is to blame for the current position, do you know when WP8 came, the dev tools were only available for WP8, would any sane person agree with that? and then there were a lot of missing API that were slowly brought in but by that time it was clear that marketshare was gng no where, so devs stayed away
  • And even now new simulators and tools will be out for WP 10 as many current apps won't be compatible with WP 10..Hence the devs will be at work again..!!
  • I have developed apps for Android and Windows Phone, Android is really powerfull but slow and complex. Meanwhile on WP even though some API's are restricted its easy to build apps and its really a fun to code in C# than Java
  • Though I've never developed anything for Android, only on WP, but I agree with you.
  • For some it's fun..But not for all..!
  • C# > Java any day. I haven't really noticed modern (API level 14 and up) Android apps being slow, and the API does give a lot more freedom / possibilities. It's why I advocate for things like Xamarin.
  • Calm down, calm down!! It's not the end of the world, don't hit the panic button!! Remember these guys have far more at stake than even us consumers, and look more closely at the article! They are emphasizing reaching out to devs to build apps for WP rather than just Android support, which I believe they don't require devs to implement such functionality if they ever go that route. The core of the strategy is still to encourage devs to build universal apps!
  • Exactly !!! I don't understand why so many people start panicking despite the fact that the priority has not changed. Plan a still remains the same and don't think plan b will ever be implemented.
  • Are you guys at fucking MS pea brained?? I mean I am absolutely exasperated at stuff I get to hear nowadays.."we will provide android users with msn apps, cortana coming to android and ios in future, office is getting updated on ios, Skype improvement update on ios and android, here maps being developed for android from now on, we are welcoming android apps on windowsphone"!!! Google and apple must be laughing sadistically at you MS and saying 'you will get raped pretty badly someday, doomsday is coming soon'.
  • I don't believe so. Everytime somebody is in the situation to choose between WP and another OS the app amount is very often the deal breaker.
    If you play a game on your device do you really care how it's made? If you're a geek probably, but most of the people just want to find that in the store and use it.
    It's like going on a website, if your ios friend or droid friend tells you "go on www.thisandthat.com" you simply expect to reach that with no problems.
    A developer has to convert his/her game or app to be visible in other oSs, why is that a problem if you don't need to do it for at least one of them?
    You still can create apps with Windows style for Android and be visible on Windows Phone.
    The "problem" is if windows developers start to create apps in Android look. That would be really the death!
    But I'm positive it won't happen.
  • Guys, this is a double edged sword that microsoft has to take. If Windows 10 for phones is gonna be awesome and upcoming lumia phones have interesting quality specs ( unlike the cheap chinese specs ), people would consider buying windows phones. I mean, I have seen my android freinds thinking it is cool to be able to run android apps on windows phones ( may be it's that BlueStacks effect that make them think it's cool ) Earlier I was against Windows supporting Android apps, but I think if people have the option to run android apps while still getting the best and secure Windows ( hoping Windows 10 is gonna be awesome ), Microsoft will be able to create a wave that will make people want to try Windows Phones! Hoping for the best, can't wait to show off android apps on my Lumia 525 to my android friends ;)
  • "Hoping for the best, can't wait to show off android apps on my Lumia 525 to my android friends ;)" Won't they be impressed...
  • XD right? That's so low-end and lame anyway
  • better than low end androids!!
  • No, but its stupid to have a WP and say "Hey look at this awesome unique windows phone! It runs android apps hahaha... Omg its so sick"
  • Judging by all the comments here I don't think people know what windows phone running android apps actually means.
  • It means its never gonna happen. Microsoft recently announced new dev tools, new universal app features to the store and even more at /BUILD//, there's no reason for them to have Android based application support. Plus, Android apps dont even match the design language of Windows. Im a developer, I know what it means, you obviously know how to point out things that you have trouble justifying as true.