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Strange bedfellows: Microsoft could bring Android apps to Windows

 Microsoft could bring Android apps to Windows:


Of Microsoft’s many challenges in mobile, none loom larger than the app deficit: it only takes a popular new title like Flappy Bird to highlight what the company is missing out on. Windows 8 apps are also few and far between, and Microsoft is stuck in a position where it’s struggling to generate developer interest in its latest style of apps across phones and tablets. Some argue Microsoft should dump Windows Phone and create its own "forked" version of Android — not unlike what Amazon has done with its Kindle Fire tablets — while others claim that’s an unreasonably difficult task. With a new, mobile- and cloud-focused CEO in placeNokia's decision to build an Android phone, and rumors of Android apps coming to Windows, could we finally see Microsoft experimenting with Google’s forbidden fruit?

Sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans tell The Verge that the company is seriously considering allowing Android apps to run on both Windows and Windows Phone. 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.

ANDROID IS THE MOBILE EQUIVALENT OF WINDOWS

Android is the mobile equivalent of Windows on desktop PCs — it’s everywhere. That growth shows no signs of stopping, and it represents a huge blockade for Microsoft’s mobile efforts across multiple market segments. iOS might still dominate developer interest for new apps, but Android has successfully bridged the gap on the smartphone side, something Windows Phone is still far from achieving. Android apps usually debut alongside their iOS equivalents, or shortly afterwards, and developers are clearly investing time and money on both platforms. For Microsoft, meanwhile, it’s a challenge of growing Windows Phone shipments and apps. Running Android apps on Windows Phone and Windows could serve as a Band-Aid.

Of course, this is a refrain we’ve heard before — the specter of BlackBerry’s failed effortto boost the relevance of its BlackBerry 10 platform by supporting Android apps looms large. Still, Microsoft is a different beast: it has the large backing of its enterprise, server, and cloud software sales to provide it with the cushion required to make radical moves. Nokia also ships considerably more smartphones than BlackBerry does. That doesn’t mean the prospects of running Android apps across Windows and Windows Phone are a guaranteed success story for Microsoft, but it may have the momentum to successfully co-opt Android that BlackBerry lacked.


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