Microsoft has been struggling to build up the app store for its mobile operating system for years.
While rumors have circulated about dual OS phones running both Android and Windows, or even just ditching Windows altogether and running a forked version of Android a la Amazon, the closest Microsoft ever came to running Android has been testing an emulator that could run apps on Windows meant for Google’s mobile operating system.
Now, it appears Microsoft has ditched or delayed that emulation project. A report from Windows Central outlines a few signs, including the removal of the emulator from recent developer builds of Windows 10 Mobile.
The Android emulator, dubbed Project Astoria, would have let developers port full Android apps to Windows mobile phones by alter just a few lines of code. It even boasted the ability to quickly add Live Tile functionality with minimal new code. It was formally introduced at Microsoft’s Build conference earlier this year, alongside three other projects that helped ease the process of porting web, iOS and Classic Win32 apps to Windows 10 Mobile.
The project may have been put on hiatus, but the company has also stopped responding to developers on the project’s dedicated developer forum, so many developers have likely stopped working on getting their apps to run in the emulator.
There are a few reasons why Microsoft may have cut back on the Android emulation project. The ability to run Android apps without running Android makes it easier to pirate apps, angering developers and putting Microsoft in a tricky legal situation. However, some developers have also complained that the emulator was technically problematic, causing the entire operating to slow down.
Microsoft may have also been hesitant to continue spending resources on a project that may not have convinced many new users to get Windows 10-running phones. According to the Windows Central report, the Project Astoria team had around 70 people, while the teams working on the iOS-porting project had just 5.
The emulation system has never been released to the general developer population, but developers were able to request access to the program through a dedicated page, which is still active right now. Developers can already access the webapp-porting tool, Project Westminster, and Microsoft open-sourced its iOS-porting project earlier this year.