windowsphone-apps-5We’ve already got Nokia reportedly making an Android-based phone, and here comes another doozy: Microsoft is “seriously considering” allowing Android apps to run on Windows and Windows Phone, according to a report by the Verge today, quoting anonymous sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans.

Yes, it sounds a little nutty, but hey, this would at least represent a chance for new CEO Satya Nadella to break with tradition.

We’ve contacted Microsoft representatives to see if a denial is forthcoming. Meantime, the story is spreading and, at the very least, raising new questions about the strength of Microsoft’s app ecosystem on tablets and smartphones.

[Update, 11:05 a.m.: Microsoft isn’t commenting on this one.]

The Verge cautions, “While planning is ongoing and it’s still early, we’re told that some inside Microsoft favor the idea of simply enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, while others believe it could lead to the death of the Windows platform altogether. The mixed (and strong) feelings internally highlight that Microsoft will need to be careful with any radical move.”

Microsoft has actually been making progress with the addition of Instagram and other popular apps that had previously been missing from Windows Phone, but the issue is that app developers still tend to target iPhone and Android first.

Comments

  • Jason Farris

    As a long time Windows / Windows Phone advocate, I don’t see any reason not to allow any and all apps on the platform. Is there a unique benefit to anyone if a user is running Instagram for Android vs. Instagram for WP, assuming feature parity? I think there’s only a handful of zipcodes where anyone cares what’s under the hood.

  • http://cobaltpm.com/ Ben Ferris

    I think this is the only way to make Windows tablets relevant enough to go mainstream. I would have kept the Dell Venue 8 Pro that I bought last month if it wasn’t for the lack of apps that I missed from my Android tablet. As a consumer, being able to run both Android apps and Windows applications on the same device would be a killer combination.

    I do understand Microsoft’s concerns that it would basically kill off the Windows apps market. However, the Windows apps will likely never catch up with the iOS and Android apps so they might as well concede.

  • Harkonnen

    I wish my last name were “Firris…” Farris, Ferris, Firris. We’d make a great team.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    Actually it’s not nutty at all. I’ve advocated this (http://www.geekwire.com/2014/report-microsoft-meeting-smartphone-oems-create-platform-agnostic-phones/#comment-1189412339) before.

    This would be a return to the sub-system model the old Windows NT had. At the time I thought that was brilliant because it gave Windows NT ways to get into OS/2 and UNIX shops by giving those folks a way to keep running those applications. It also made it possible to run 16 bit Windows applications too.

    It’s a good way to get people to start considering WP. The app situation is a big blocker in my experience with people. And that in turn can start building enough of a user base that folks may start doing native WP apps.

    The big question, though, is security. Android is a hot mess when it comes to security (1.4 million pieces of malware and high risk apps as of the end of 2013 according to my employer). I’d be curious to know what they’d do to keep the WP operating system safe from Android’s security problems.

  • Stephen

    There’s already programs out there that let you run Android Tablet apps on your Windows Laptop. So adding that to help manufacturers ease the “transition” to windows isn’t a bad idea. I don’t see much point putting it on the phone, but with 8.1 making PhoneOS and WinRT much closer, it’s a possibility.
    However, I’d not put emulation software on my windows phone. Not because the phone can’t handle it, but simply because I have every app I had on my droid that I use on my win phone already. Maybe games? But if you’re building an emulator.. why not make an ios one? Seriously, make wndows phones run iPhone apps side by side and watch how fast Tim Cooks head explodes…. and how fast you end up in court.

  • Pat Binkley

    I recall when Blackberry wanted to enable Java/Android apps to run on their platform a couple years ago. At the time, they offered a wrapper that all developers had to do was wrap the app and you were “good to go”. The only problem that was as the app developer, you had many more problems to solve to support this new app store distribution. Aside from tweaking your likely display/layout/resolution problems, for this new distribution, you will need to:

    1) Repoint your “Rate this App” logic to the Windows version of your app.
    2) Any advertisements in your apps that point to Google Play apps will need to point to Windows store. This is hard to do if you pull your ads from a network. App related Ads will need to be targeted at Windows based Android apps.
    3) Any Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) app push notifications will likely not work as these are processes that run natively on Android.
    4) Any sort of authentication will require a gmail/google auth activity
    5) Redo your analytics to show activity from this build
    6) Sign and deliver your build to Microsoft App store for approval

    All these issues can be overcome but it’s not as simple as just uploading your app into the Windows Market.

  • TY

    Not nutty, But one thing comes to mind: will windows be able to block what apps come in or will they let ALL apps come in, Cause that would kill the interest for ANYONE to develop for the windows platform: Which is a doozy for microsoft…….

Job Listings on GeekWork