What if Windows and Windows Phone users didn’t have to wait for native versions of apps like Flappy Birds and the latest popular calendars to arrive in the Windows Phone Store but were able to load Android versions of their favorite apps instead? Reports indicate that Microsoft is actively considering making that scenario a reality for its users.
A report citing “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans” from The Verge indicates that teams inside of Microsoft are seriously considering endowing Windows Phone and Windows 8 with the functionality they would need to load apps specifically made for Google’s Android operating system. Apparently, the thinking inside the company is that doing so would allow Microsoft to instantly bolster the Windows Store with apps made for Android.
As described, the concept sounds strikingly familiar to the way BlackBerry now lets users load up Android apps on devices running its BlackBerry 10 operating system.
Today’s report indicates that Microsoft making this move would somehow allow the company to use the “embrace, extend and extinguish” tactics that it’s used to turn around Microsoft products platforms in the 1990s. It also cites Nokia’s decision to push a low-cost Android replacement for its low-end Asha handsets as anecdotal proof that Microsoft is open to just about anything at this point.
Unfortunately, the report doesn’t exactly make complete sense. Sure, Microsoft may be holding meetings to consider such a move, however there are plenty of reasons why such a tactic wouldn’t make it past the discussions phase of Microsoft’s future mobile plans.
So far, Microsoft has shown that it’s not in the business of creating products as much as it’s in the business of creating platforms that it owns completely. Allowing Windows and Windows Phone owners to somehow side-load Android applications would devastate any momentum the company’s platforms are already gaining with developers. Though high-profile apps and games don’t typically arrive on Windows Phone on the same day as they do Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, the situation isn’t nearly as dire as the report claims. In fact, the recent launch of Beats Music on Windows Phone indicates that Microsoft is finally starting to make some headway in that area.
More specifically, developers would be less likely to take advantage of the features that makes the platform unique if they could simply tell users to download an Android app. For example, Live Tiles, Charms and Search integration for apps could simply disappear overnight.
Finally, making such a move ignores one key issue: if users wanted Android apps without the advantages that Windows or Windows Phone provides why wouldn’t they simply just buy an Android compatible device?
Microsoft has yet to comment on the report.