Today, new rumors of how Microsoft plans to topple iPhone and Android are surfacing. Ironically, the rumors aren’t of some new secret plan, but more details about something that has been allegedly, under consideration at Microsoft for a long time: getting Android apps into its Windows Store.
A new report from Neowin, an enthusiast website that has provided accurate information about Microsoft’s plans before, says that Microsoft is still looking for a way to use Android apps to fill in the holes in the Windows Store.
Allegedly, the outlet has heard from “multiple sources” that Android apps are running internally on smartphones running Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. These apps are described as “broad in scope.” That’s the outlet’s way of hinting at these being full Android apps running on Windows 10 for phones and not older versions with specific features.
Rumors about Android apps coming to Windows Phone have swirled for months. As early as last year there was talk of Microsoft making it so users could download Android apps to their Windows Phone devices. In theory, doing so would mean Microsoft finally found a way out of the rut the Windows Phone Store has been stuck in for the better part of a year.
This report says that the feature hasn’t been greenlit for inclusion in Windows 10 for phones because of two core issues. First, allegedly, Microsoft is worried about being sued by Google if it somehow tried to include the Google Play Store on Windows Phone devices. Second, the company is said to be worried about how support for Android apps could damage the Windows ecosystem.
With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing one app store and one type of app to all of its platforms. Windows 10 will run on smartphones, tablets, notebooks, 2-in-1s and even the Xbox One. The theory is that having one app type across everything it sells well make it easier to convince developers to invest in its app platform. This idea would seemingly be at odds with adding Android app compatibility.
Read: What is Windows 10?
For starters, Microsoft has made it pretty easy to get started developing Windows Phone apps already. What’s holding the platform up isn’t development tools. Simply put, there aren’t enough Windows Phone users in smartphone strongholds like the United States. Internationally, Windows Phone is fairly robust, but locally it’s a wash due to Microsoft’s mismanaged device strategy. The same logic that applies for Windows 10 apps applies here, if developers can target Windows, Windows Phone and Android with one app, why bother creating a native Windows experience that takes advantage of Live Tiles, settings sync and more?
Neowin notes that internal teams are still fleshing out the idea and working to ensure that it makes sense for users. Certainly, Microsoft needs to make a serious move where mobile apps are concerned. Windows Phone roughly reached feature parity with iPhone and Android last spring when Microsoft unleashed the Windows Phone 8.1 update.
That being said, Microsoft has done a pretty lackluster job of advertising any Windows Phone features besides the Cortana personal assistant. Second, Microsoft has released a flagship Windows Phone itself since 2014. The Lumia Icon was a very decent iPhone alternative, but completely exclusive to Verizon in the United States. Windows phones need a jolt, a spark that’ll help it at least grab the attention of iPhone, Android and feature phone users today.
For what it’s worth, Windows 10 will launch sometime this “summer” according to Microsoft. If the company is serious about addressing the Windows app problem we should hear more at its BUILD 2015 event in late April and early May.