Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Microsoft mulling over allowing Android apps to run on Windows Phone, Windows

Nokia is nearing the launch of its first Android phone -- though a heavily forked version of Android that is more akin to what ships on its Kindle Fires. While that may prove shocking, something more shocking is looming, The Verge reported on Wednesday: Nokia's soon-to-be parent Microsoft is said to be considering allowing Android apps to run, and not just on Windows, but also Windows Phone.

Sources familiar with Redmond's plans said that the company is seriously -- note that word, seriously -- considering allowing Android apps to run on both Windows and Windows Phone. Admittedly, through the use of the third-party BlueStacks software, Android apps can already run on Windows (BlueStacks has signed deals with Lenovo and Asus to ship its software on their PCs, Intel has invested in the company, and last month AMD announced a partnership with BlueStacks). This, however, would be Microsoft's own move on its own platforms.

According to the sources, Microsoft would likely eschew its own implementation of such functionality. Instead, it would rely on some third-party "enabler," which could mean more work for BlueStacks. It could also mean, though, a move toward the "Dual OS" concept that Intel has been pushing.

It's unclear how Microsoft would handle Android on Windows Phone.

Feelings within Redmond are, as you might expect, mixed. It's still early in the lifespan of the idea, but while some inside Microsoft favor the idea of enabling Android apps inside its Windows and Windows Phone Stores, others express concern that such a move could lead to the demise of the Windows platform.

It's unclear how well this would work. While it would enable Windows Phone and Windows to have vastly larger marketplaces, it could also drive developers away from Windows Phone. It's also the case that BlackBerry’s real-life example of such a attempt fell flat on its face.

All that being said, considering that Microsoft's fortunes and momentum are not in the sorry state of BlackBerry's, the move could be a successful one for Redmond.

At the earliest, any implementation of Android apps on Windows would not likely emerge -- if at all -- until Microsoft’s Windows 9 work is ready in 2015. By then, Android's market share may be so huge that Microsoft will have little choice in the matter. Alternatively, Windows Phone could make a big move.

Time will tell.

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