Skip to main content

Microsoft reportedly considering Android apps as a solution for Windows Phone

It's old news when we talk about Microsoft's problem with getting developers on-board with both Windows and Windows Phone. The company has had trouble having new content developed and released on its own operating systems alongside iOS and Android. It's no secret that Microsoft platforms are generally left in the dark — just take a look at Flappy Bird.

Now, according to The Verge, Redmond could be considering Android apps to solve its problems. We've previously looked at what Microsoft is actively doing to help alleviate their market growth issues, but there could always be more done to bring across more platform support. 

Sources familiar with Microsoft plans have shared details with The Verge, noting how the company is seriously considering the addition of Android apps on not only Windows Phone, but Windows too. There are — of course — mixed feelings on the potential plan, should it ever be put into action. Some believe it could help bolster the content available for consumers, while others see it as the end of the Windows platform.

There's also no denying the fact that Android is the mobile equivalent of Windows on personal computers, you only have to look at market share reports to see just how dominant Google is in the competitive industry. Things have improved for Windows Phone, which now has over 100,000 apps available for download and more being published on a daily basis, but could the addition of Android software act as a temporary solution?

Instagram Android

BlackBerry went down a similar path with Android

Should Microsoft enable Android apps on its platforms, this wouldn't be the first time we've seen such a move in the mobile space. BlackBerry allows consumers to enjoy Android content on its own hardware. Then we have Nokia rumoured to be building and looking to push low-end hardware running forked Android. The Verge has also learnt that Intel has been pushing Microsoft to allow both Android and Windows to run on PCs.

Which option Microsoft chooses to go with will need to be planned with extra care. Could you see a Windows ecosystem with Android apps thrown into the mix or is it better to avoid altogether?

Source: The Verge

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

684 Comments
  • If this is true, it creates a whole new meaning of word "desperate".
  • +100
     
  • They need to remember what became of OS/2 when it became "windows compatible"  no one developed for OS/2 anymore. or more recent history - look at Blackberry. If Windows runs Android apps, Android apps are all there will ever be.  
  • While agree if you look at it from this point of view it "might" make sense. If they have the apps more people will flap towards WP and developers might update the app to respond more metro using Java and make it exclusive to the WP store.
  • I am sure that would be the plan.  but history shows that plan never happens.
  • Devs could still develop for WP if Microsoft only allows Android apps that aren't economically viable in WP.  They could select the top 50 apps in each market that are imposible to port to WP because the small user base. As a second step MS could build a Metro API on top of the Android SDK, so developers could reuse most of their code but adapt the UI for each platform.
  • Good idea! I love the interface, miss some apps but I like better the one with WP interface
  • What windows need is a unified API for all the platforms, so that an app in window8 should run in wp8 with the minimal effort in the UI modification. Once you unify it may reduce the effort of the development team. Now look at the instagram app in wp8, it is so droidy, it don’t follow the elegance of the WP ecosystem. If Microsoft give a developer a good reason not to develop app which is in tune with the WP app concept, you can kiss good bye to it. There will be never app like 6 tags. We will be end up with the same boring interface .APKs
  • +920+2520 THIS!!! I love how you can buy an app for iPhone and it appears on your iPad immediately. It's brilliant. This is what should happen with WP and RT. W8 should be also so similar that it would be an option. Imaging having the same apps on all three. That would be true One Microsoft. Microsoft should work on getting WP and W8 Tabs to run the same apps, not WP and Android Tabs to run the same apps.
  • Like this? http://cnet.co/1hfC5YX
  • This looks interesting http://cnet.co/1hfC5YX
  • Truth is, this would make a lot of wp users leave wp and it wont make any andriod user move to wp. It wont make anyone switch to wp when they can have the better experience on andriod. This is a really silly idea and Im surprised it is even being debated within MS
  • Spot on!
  • +1 This . 
  • Agreed.
  • Yeah. Maybe it could be done in a limited fashion though. Like banking apps, etc, could get a special privilege on an app by app basis. But to generally allow Android apps on Windows is IMO a bad idea (and a bad sign).
  • Would you mind to elaborate? I mean, you have for many years been able to run different emulators for "Spectrum", "Commodore 64" and other gaming machines on a windows system ... Also you have been able to have several different OS that you could choose from at the start of (for instance) your windows 7 computer, such as "Windows XP," Linux ", etc. So what's the difference? Is there any difference? What is your view on that?
  • The difference is Spectrum, Commodore 64, etc. are all "obsolete" operating systems from ages ago, not a current competing OS that Microsoft is trying hard to get marketshare from.
  • ^TaRuth!
  • why would you leave? when the next big game that will not be on WP you will be able to run it. how is that so bad? plus you get what the android guys don't: a pure experience without any kind of OEM intervention and an OS that doesnt' need a task manager and quad core cpu to run decent.
  • Because you lose the pure experience. You have to run buggy android apps in a buggy emulator. It will be an even worse experience than android
  • ^^ this
  • This makes me question where my loyalty should be.
  • Exactly
  • Agreed! Oh, and Google is the Devil.
  • Google is Evil! The NSA might overstep their bounds but the goal is to protect citizens. Google's goal is to get rich off their users personal information and to them nothing is sacred.
  • @meddyrainzo - totally agree. In addition, an Android fanboy on WP Central said it is possible to download YouTube videos on Android and recommended the following app for his purpose; www.tubemate.net The sites header is:
    [CAUTION] There are so many infected fake TubeMates on 'Google Play' and internet.
    Please get TubeMate from the verified sites for your safety. So is this what WP fans want...... Android style apps "infected", as stated above, in the Google Play market? Don't want it myself thank you but maybe others do? One of the reasons for choosing WP is that its not Android, just purely on personal preference. And hoping this is another silly rumour.
  • Oh please enough with the "Android apps are so virused" BS, Never caught anything like this on my previous android device or on my bro's device, Well at least you better be more careful and stop downloading porno apps that use a lot of permissions.
  • I've never been murdered, nor have my friends - therefore no one ever gets murdered? Your anecdotal survey of 5 is not proof. Android has had tons of malware developed for it. Software you download sens your usage data goodness knows where. Think about it, Android does not have MDM baked into it! (Samsung add in their own after for example) iPhone and WP do not have this problem, as they are secure by default. Few people in my industry sector chose Android because of fragmentation and lack of security. Simple as that.
  • Nothing is "secure". Don't fool yourself. Look at windows desktop. And I too have never had this problem. Many, many, many people I know have never had this problem. I can't comment on windows phone because too few people have them. This is why windows phone is never under any attack. It would simply be a waste of time, money, and effort to do it. IOS has been under attack before. here is what I found after a simple Google search: http://www.ibtimes.com/apple-ios-app-store-gets-first-virus-learn-about-.... Nothing is ever secure.
  • They may be virus free but unlike WP it doesn't ensure security because you can get an apk from any site and install them without even checking whether it is safe or not.For example it happens that you download a paid game apk for free and when you install it it asks to install another app or fill a survey or something.But in WP every app you install can only be installed or downloaded through the store that is the xap(there is another possibilty of obtaining the xaps from elsewhere).So don't say that Android doesn't contain malware, it does.
  • Agree, as currently stated on BBC news for mobiles http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26136781
  • Do you go around downloading weird stuff on your PC? Cause the risks are the same.
  • Pc is a toally different thing!
  • It's the only argument Android people use to try and cover up the malware on Android phones. I don't PC anything but waste of time telling them this as they can not admit to the facts.
  • This is the best YouTube downloader for Android: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ytdownloader/
  • You can download YT Videos on WP8 using UC Browser which Rocks btw!
    UC Browser FTW!
  • Oh, I'm no fanboy as you proclaim, Im just not as jaded as you are. Android has it's problems and stregnths, just as every other OS does. There are some things that I do not agree with that Google does such as what they think of using expandable storage and many of what microsoft has done...let's just say only a fool would consider them to be ethical. I like to dabble in as many operating systems as i can as i have said many times that's why I pay attention to this site. Why else would I? I loved using windows mobile and still watch the progress of windows phone. I also said that there are more than one apps that can do this if you are so afraid of tubemate. I also posed how unsafe the windows desktop is as well, but people still use it. The more popular your platform is, the more unsafe it becomes as it is targeted more frequently. how hard is that to understand? Ubuntu linux doesn't have almost any viruses but does that mean it is more secure and better for business purposes than windows desktop? No, not necessarily. if Ubuntu had the same level of popularity as windows it would be just as unsafe. It is foolish to think otherwise especially in this day and age. However, I do agree that this would be a bad idea even though it sounds cool. As another example, I remember when I owned the Nokia N900 there was a similar problem with lack of applications to choose from. The answer back then was to use the apps from Web OS. It was definitely cool to be able to do that but then it never really took off and the rest is history. As someone else pointed out, history has shown how unfavourable these ideas turn out to be. So, for the growth of the platform, I too hope and think that this is just a silly rumor.
  • Why do you think that? I mean, you have for many years been able to run different emulators for "Spectrum", "Commodore 64" and other gaming machines on a windows system ... Also you have been able to have several different OS that you could choose from at the start of (for instance) your windows 7 computer, such as "Windows XP," Linux ", etc. So what's the difference? Is there any difference? What is your view on that?
  • The level of complexity involved in virtualizing a Commodore 64 is no where near the complexity involved in virtualizing Android to run under Windows.
     
  • This, in a nutshell
  • Hi, People have tried WP8 phone becos they like the hardware and have gone to Android because of lack of apps. This may bring some people back to WP8.
  • @meddyrainzo
    I completely agree with you,there is nothing wrong with windows phone,Microsoft needs to work better on how to get these things in everyone's hands..like they did with PC'S back in the day..and honestly I don't see how they have a small share in the market because I see people with windows phone all the time,honestly Microsoft should do what I said earlier..because that is a good shot at getting market share..and that's the only thing big devs wanna see,WP almost has all of the mainstream/multiplat apps that people look for as well. In my eyes it is all in the matter of catching the people's eyes,time for some good consumerism and less planned obsolescence
  • That's a pretty risky "might" you're throwing around there.
  • Tru
  • Definitely not. As a developer, I know that most businesses will see this as a reason to only develop an Android version (and the iOS version, of course). Unless there was a sudden and huge demand for the app on WP, they would be content with leaving it in that form, and never investing in the platform. For smaller developers, it also makes sense to push their Android version to WP users unless you actually see a large uptick in pickup. Particularly if the apps are written in Google's bastardization of Java, it would require a complete rewrite to run on WP. If the code is nicely written in C++ (well designed), then there is potentially a lot of reuse. I don't think this is true because it would require Microsoft to support a pretty large and very risky subsystem with an enormous number of APIs. Microsoft would also lose out on a lot of potential ad revenue as every single ad-driven app would be using Google's (or some other) ad system, which benefits Google from Microsoft's platform, which Microsoft has been keen to avoid. Plus, to be honest, Android currently has more APIs than WP has available to developers (some more useful; some not), which would give Android developers an advantage by not migrating to WP.
  • Java is a joke it is the cause of so many problems crashes viruses life has so moved on from java & the Nokia 3310 that is a reference to how outdated & old java is.
  • That's a horrible, but alas, likely outcome. I'm not getting scroogled. I really hate google with a passion. I'd move to sailfish, or the Firefox? OS, before using anything from google or crapple.
  • One of the touted abilities of Sailfish (Jolla) is its ability to run Android apps.
  • And WP doesn't exactly have anything where a native app would give a significantly better experience than and Android version (both OSs rely on Home and Back -buttons after all), unlike Sailfish. I really hope they aren't this stupid, the app -situation has already improved greatly and is still constantly improving, especially with games.
  • I'd move to Mars rather than use Google.
  • Yeah. I don't see how anyone with an IQ at Microsoft (not an IQ above a certain number, mind you, any IQ) would think that was a good idea. Do that and Android wins: no one will make Windows Phone apps anymore and all you're doing is selling hardware).
  • How could they sell hardware when they run the same apps as all others. People will just buy the cheapest they can get. Lumias will get no advantage. They have to be tough and put all their effort into WP and not try to cheat.
    This is just silly and terribly sad!
  • the problem is nobody is makign WP apps. Devs make apps for platforms with marketshare. And everytime you tell anybody about WP they will say it has no apps. If you tell them that they can run all the android apps, things start to change. They may not all get WP but at least it will be more than currently do. Sell more devices = attrack more devs towards your own native apps.
  • That doesn't work. Look at Blackberry. They tried the same thing with BB10, but still no one came to the platform and no devs made native apps.
  • But devs still do make native BB10 apps. BlackBerry had the app problem long before users could easily install Android apk's.
  • But, following that logic, the users were only attracted to WP for Android apps to begin with, so why would developers--like myself--feel the need to re-develop those apps that users are already okay with? Bringing new users to an ecosystem where your app already works will not give you a good reason to rewrite said app just because the ecosystem gets a bit more popular. In fact, it's probably the biggest reason to do nothing because it removes all risk.
  • Exactly I remember OS/2 and their Win 3.1 compatibility, I ended up spending all my time in win 3.1 what was the point of having OS/2. & If MS does do the running Android apps thing it will spell the end for WP IMO. I don't think they will do it, I think the option has probably been discussed internally and that's how the rumour got started. If they do go the Android route they might as well get out of the mobile market all together & not waste money and resources on a hybrid system that is doomed to fail. The only people that are happy with these hybrid systems are people who have buyers remorse, and are happy they are able to run the apps from the OS they regret not buying in the first place. These people will not stay with WP or BB when their contract is up but go straight to Android.
  • Then again, there might be those who like the overall feel of WP, the controlled environment, speed etc, that might go from Android to it if they know they can take their apps with them.
  • That the problem though. Without Google Play services there isn't an easy way of taking your app with you. The license for your app does not transfer to Windows store. Sideloading isn't something you advertise.
  • Correction "might"
  • If I could take my android apps to wp then I would get a wp. I hate apple. I love android and to be honest the windows phones looks awesome. But why should I go to wp when I can't take my paid android apps with me? Too many stores. But if android and windows could cross platform that would be nice. That's means android users could go get wp, and wp users could go to android. I mean if you spent 25-50 on a store how could you justify leaving it all behind?
  •   +10000000  
  • You're right! Do you remember the OS/2 slogan: "OS/2 is a better Windows than Windows"? Where's this "better Windows" now? MS, do not try to be "better Android than Android"! Instead bring WinPhone apps to Win 8 and WinRT!
  • TRU DAT!
  • I suspect this is part of a dis-information campaign to confuse those who might commit to develop for MSFT.  Google knows that developers are the key to platform adoptation, anything to confuse those in the developing world.  How many people will develop primarily for BB10 now that they run Android apps?  Who would develop for Android if they ran iOs apps?
  • Exactly.
  • developers don't care about an OS silly, they care about device numbers. If this causes WP to be adopted more widely and the app experience of native windows phones is better, devs will start making apps for it. this is meant for the developer that would like to be on WP but can't afford it until MSFT doesn't reach 20% marketshare. this could be a blessing for WP for it would make WP more attractive to the consumer
  • Why make two different apps when you can make one? One? Pun. Anyway, terrible idea
  • What you will see is developers who already have native apps on windows phones, pull their native apps, and replace it with the android app to streamline their process. So you'll end up with a degrading app store full of buggy/ugly android apps
  • Moiz Man your above comments hit the nail squarely on the head. I concur.
  • This is the unfortunate and all too likely outcome should MS go ahead with this plan. My next purchase won't be a WP device if they decide to kill the platform like this.
  • I'm one of mobile developers around the globe. And if WP did run Android apps, I think we (the company I work for) will consider to only create Android app that run well on WP, without any UI change since managing that is already cumbersome. Yes, our app will looks bad, but our resources is limited.
    The thing is, if devs is not considering WP apps in the first place, they won't making one if WP runs Android apps. Why would we need to maintain two app or two version of Android app if we can manage one for both platform?
  • This right here is why this idea is so damn terrible. I bought WP for Metro. The apps must have that Metro feel and feel like they belong on the platform otherwise I am not going to download or support those apps. Having a bunch of lackluster looking Android clones would kill WP. Users would complain vociferously.
  • This whole notion is fail, +1000
  • Exactly
  • Agreed
  • desperate is what google+ does to get user accounts by forcing you to use something you don't want. This is giving people apps they can't get otherwise and lets them cross out the app ecosystem as a weakness.
  • If that happens...im getting the Samsung Note 3 or 4 depending. Microsoft can SUCK IT.
    P.S. If that happens.
  • The ONLY scenario where this makes sense is if the only other option is completely dropping WP. Otherwise, this is by far the best way to immediately kill all WP development. God I wish Android didn't exist.
  • Don't... Android is a major contributor of today's OS technology. And I think Nokia and Microsoft did get their ass kicked for getting lax around 4-6 years ago... Now they're and should be getting serious in fighting (and that's not to do this suck plan that means surrendering)
  • Exactly. This is why I left to android and a couple other platforms.  Sometimes I wonder if these guys remember touchflo 3d, SPB mobile shell, and many other resource intensive overlays that were put on winmo.
  • First a dual boot WP then android apps. Hmmmm
    Confusing
  • Take my like!
  • +1020
  • Why Android? Why?
  • Agreed!
  • I think if they really want to allow android apps,they should only allow games not the other apps..lot of people i know are holding windowsphone because they don't have alot of games in windows phone atleast teenagers are looking for games. So if they want to allow it should be for games only.
  • +930
  • Wow.wish this comes true someday :P microsoft seems to raise expectations and then bring them crashinnnng down :-/
  • +1
  • I don't! Devs will stop developing Windows Phone apps and just develops Android apps
  • Exactly!
  • Ur right.....
  • Chef
    +billions
  • I think he talk sarcasm for the first part.
  • For me, just please update the major apps and I'll be good. The Twitter app on my iPod Touch feels so much sleeker and sexier than the one on my Lumia 920. 
  • You got your Google in my Windows!  This will make me go to Apple.  I can't deal with my information being taken by the most nefarious of nefarious organizations.
  • Coming from iPhone to Windows Phone, I will go Apple too, I will of course see how Microsoft plan to implement this, but I fear it will lead to less Windows Phone specific apps, which I don't want. I'm fine with the apps in the store now.
  • +920 I love all the metro style apps.
  • You wont go alone, that's for sure. Besides, the biggest problem I have with iPhone is the small screen and that is about to change.
  • Or you could just not install any Android apps...
  • The problem isn't whether or not we would install them. The issue is what will developers do. The likely outcome would be developers not bothering to port their apps to a more WP friendly design when they can just let people use their Android app. That would be the death of the Windows and WP app stores.
  • I agree that that is an issue, a likely outcome and a concern. What I was responding to was the statement that Android apps on WP would result in your "information being taken by the most nefarious of nefarious organizations." Android apps being available on WP would not result in Google suddenly having access to your personal information.
  • I detest Google for just being a set of scruffy admen that give away free software. I also don't understand the lust for the most number of apps. I suspect that, in reality, there may be a maximum of 30 apps that MS needs, that it may not have. Also, some of our top apps could do with some improvement to bring them up to par. Always quite surprised that a company like MS cannot rustle together some decent developers from in house or the community to assist companies to develop apps. That South African chap with the Llama game is the type we need on board. I would hate to see MS allow Android apps.
  • Google is worse than Microsoft and Apple? You must really love Kool Aid. They are all the same, they all have the same business practices.
  • I agree, they a are all corporations. They make Microsoft out to be saints. Do they not remember what Microsoft did when it wielded a monopoly?
  • I would consider converting to an iSheep as well.
  • Vote against even if it may be just a rumor
    http://windowsphone.uservoice.com/forums/101801-feature-suggestions/sugg...
  • Indeed. If this does happen I will go back to Apple as well.
  • is it april 1st already? i left android for windowsphone and dont want to go back. i realize it would be optional (at least i hope), but c'mon microsoft...
  • I don't want to go back either, but this is just for apps, not the clunky OS. For games this would be ideal, run most Android games under a VM on our phones/tablets. It's not like games tie in to the operating system in any way so as long as performance is ok then this could solve the app problem overnight. It didn't work great for Blackberry for some apps that tie in the OS and initially perfformance sucked, but allegedly with later Dalvik installs they improved that greatly. If MS can get it running well, then why not. If you are a developer and have to do nothing to port your game to WP, just submit it to the store, then why not do it?
  • i understand your logic, but google doesnt want to play nice with anyone let alone microsoft. so i dont see a scenario where windowsphone users wont be subject to google's crappy policies
  • The biggest problem I see is there being even less native apps for WP...why dev for WP at all when the android version works?
  • Google doesn't own Android. Amazon runs Android without Google being involved at all.
  • try reading this and show us where amazon owns android or even develops or maintains it... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system)
  • Try reading my comment and see where I said that Amazon owns Android. What I meant by "Amazon runs Android" is that Amazon devices (such as the Kindle) run a version of Android that doesn't involve Google at all. My point was that you can have an Android device without using Google apps.
  • i agree amazon has a forked version of android, but google owns android and has since purchasing Android Inc. 9 years ago
  • Yes, I stand corrected there. 
  • It doesn't matter that Google own Android. MS would just need to have a VM within Windows that let Android apps run. They might use code that Google have written for Android, but that's all open-source and nothing would ever go back to Google. It's the perfect way of sticking two fingers up at Google. Get apps initially written for Android running on Windows using bits of Google's own code.
  • Are you sure? There are a lots of apps that using Google specific APIs. Not Android API, but Google API. And all of them are closed source (a.k.a proprietary). Heck, even the Kindle OS which forked version of Android still can't run all Android apps for this reason. And to circumvent this, Microsoft will need to build API that resembles Google API so these apps that relying these API runs fine. Which means, less and less time to develop WP itself. That would be sucks big time.
  • I would image trying to run  a vm would require lots of processing power, which could theoretically introduce android like lag into a rather fluid windowsphone enviornment
  • Thing is this has nothing to do with Google. It's just apps built to run on Android. So basically apps that run on a specific Linux distribution; Google isn't in the picture. If MS do this it'd be a big FU to Google. Taking apps built for Android and running them on Windows, sweet irony. It doesn't give Google any control whatsover of your phone, it just lets developers submit their Linux app to the Windows Store where it can be installed as per normal and will run in a Dalvik VM. Same as Amazon with their Kindle HD and same as Blackberry - nothing goes to Google; it's win-win.*   * - Except it'd mean some developers won't port their apps, be satisfied with the Android version which won't be optimised for Windows APIs.
  • And Microsoft does? Microsoft used to crush companies you know. They even blatantly stole stuff. They are all corporations, being nice is not how these businesses survive and attain success.
  • Exactly...Bye, Bye Windows Phone specific apps...no thanks
  • Nope WP will win....Microsoft and And Android making 2 OS for PC n PHONES soon. Like I said tha thing that WP needs is more APPS that's it
  • Nope!!
  • Seconded!
  • I certainly hope not..
  • ah, no thanks!
  • Hell no ....The store is fine . There is no  Lack of apps now   this will be humiliating if it happens
  • there is still a lack of apps, but this will only make matters worse
  • How does adding more apps make it worse?
  • Because that more apps IS Android apps. Not WP optimized apps. And if this happens, most likely is developers won't makes WP apps ever again. Why would we need to makes two apps if just one is already ran on two platforms (albeit not optimized for WP)? And believe me, currently, there are Android apps that not even optimized for Android (devs lazy-ness). If they don't even care with Android optimization, I don't think they will care about WP optimization.
  • I already run android apps on my Surface, its hardly a new idea, and it does mean you can use apps that windows doesn't have.
  • How u do that day. U (ROOT) it
  • Just download Bluestacks, that's all.