Windows may be the dominant operating system for notebook and desktop computers but it’s in a distant third place when it comes to smartphones, so it’s not surprising that many mobile app developers prioritize iOS and Android over Windows.
So Microsoft decided to do something about the app gap and earlier this year the company announced it would launch tools that would make it easy for developers to port existing Android, iOS, and web apps to run on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. There are also tools that let developers of legacy Win32 apps turn their software into Universal Windows Apps that can run across phones, tablets, PCs, and other platforms.
But Windows 10 has been available for months… so where are those apps? Some are on the way, while others… might not be.
According to Windows Central, it looks like the iOS, Web, and Win32 porting projects are expected to launch soon. The Android app solution… not so much.
Microsoft hasn’t officially commented on the matter, but Windows Central says it’s spoken to developers and other sources who say the project is delayed, or possibly even canceled.
There are a few possible reasons for that. Most of them have to do with the fact that while Microsoft has developed tools for porting iOS, Web, and Win32 apps to the Windows 10 Universal app platform, the company was planning to take a different approach with Android apps. Windows 10 was supposed to simply include an Android emulator, making it easy to just run unmodified Android apps.
On the one hand, that would have made it extraordinarily easy for developers to submit existing apps to the Windows Store. On the other hand, it also made it rather easy for developers to get lazy and not bother actually customizing their apps to take advantage of Windows features or design elements. It could also make it easy for users to install pirated apps (or just apps that the developers hadn’t explicitly made available for Windows).
I imagine Microsoft also wasn’t pleased when some folks figured out how to install Google Mobile Services on a pre-release build of Windows 10 Mobile earlier this year, essentially bringing some services that are only supposed to be available for Android phones to Windows.
Windows Central says the Microsoft team working on the Android app project was also much, much larger than the team working on the iOS app porting tools, suggesting that the company might have decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And there have also been reports that the Android emulator caused performance issues with Windows 10.
I should repeat: Microsoft hasn’t publicly stated that Android apps aren’t coming to Windows 10, so take all of this with a grain of salt. But Microsoft also hasn’t said much lately to give us the idea that they will be coming anytime soon. So it certainly seems plausible that the company is giving up on the idea, or at least making some behind-the-scene changes before rolling it out.
My understanding is that android emulation was never the plan
Bluestacks should get to work on this. I’m already running Android apps on my Windows 10 tablet. Microsoft is probably scared users will spend all their time in Bluestacks on phones.
I never thought Android apps were coming to Windows 10, this seems like a load of old codswallop.
The idea was to help Android app code to be ported to Windows, which would be fairly complex anyway, by having to remap Android APIs to Windows ones. However the situation is more complex as on non-Google blessed Android compatible OSs, ie. FireOS and BB10, so many standard Android apps are very dependant on Google Play Services. Just as with FireOS and BB10, there will be a stream of complaints why their favourite Android app won’t work. Ultimately it’s down to developers to write the apps people want for Windows 10.
There is already a 3rd party implementation of Android for Windows, called Bluestacks. It actually runs pretty well on your standard-level notebook PC or Surface Pro.
I imagine the difficulty in just emulating Android apps is that most use Google Play Services. So MS would have to either implement matching services – which wouldn’t be a slight thing – or disallow apps which used them. That would be pretty confusing for users. “Use Android Apps! – but not this one, or this one, or that one…”
BlackBerry OS 10 has had this Android emulation capability from the start and it didn’t get them that far (it works well mind you but needs regular updating). They finally realized this duality is futile and went full-on Android. Microsoft will eventually realize it too and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to release a full-on Android phone too to get the apps and customers. Otherwise, I don’t see how you can sway the Android regular users. True iOS users won’t go Windows phone no matter what.
MS isn’t going to embrace Android. For Blackberry it was a matter of survival. For MS, mobile is only a small part of their business. They would love it to be bigger, of course, but surrendering to Android is not the way to do it.
I hope MS succeeds in convincing software vendors/developers to create native apps because I wouldn’t run Android apps via an emulator. Otherwise, I’d just open up a desktop browser and navigate to a website or download a desktop app.
It depends. I’d try to find a native app, but for example I really like the weather app I use relative to many other weather apps I’ve tried, and I like it enough that if it wasn’t ported I’d run it through an emulator. So porting is preferred, but emulation is a backup.
well, another detail is that many/most Android apps *always* run in an emulator: the ART java runtime.
It’s not accurate to call the Java runtime an emulator, especially not Google’s implementation of it (ART), which uses a precompiler to translate the byte code into native code on install.
What Microsoft was planning to do was implement the ART on top of Windows, which is a bit heavier than Android’s implementation, because it would be running two different OS runtimes, but otherwise the performance should be pretty good.
So to sum that up, Microsoft wasn’t working on an emulator and ART is not an emulator.
It would be a surprising decision because I think in general Android users are more open to change and not as locked into a certain OS. Ideally Microsoft would go even further and allow native Android apps to run under Windows, like having Bluestacks type functionality built in, so that users wouldn’t have to depend on their favorite app maker porting to Windows.
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