Windows Phone is over three years old now, but its app catalog still looks pretty slim when compared to rival offerings from Apple and Google. In an effort to plug the gap, Microsoft could allow Windows and Windows Phone users to run Android apps — just like BlackBerry 10 does.
The software giant is “seriously considering” the move, according to sources familiar with its plans, who have been speaking to The Verge. However, Microsoft employees are said to be divided by the suggestion: while some believe it would be good for the platform, others think it will eventually lead to its death.
Of course, Microsoft wouldn’t be the first to go down this route.
BlackBerry’s latest BlackBerry 10 operating system has a built-in Android runtime that lets users run regular Android apps right out of the box. This opens the door to titles that aren’t available natively through BlackBerry World, such as Instagram, Vine, Spotify, Netflix and many more — and it’s thought Microsoft would take a similar approach.
“The company wants to enable Android apps on Windows and control the store that consumers download them from, but it’s unlikely that it will want to handle the complex job of supporting an additional platform,” The Verge reports. “Instead, if such a plan goes ahead, it will likely involve a third-party ‘enabler.’”
But this has its pros and cons. In some ways, it’s good for users, because it lets them run apps they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. But it can also discourage native app development. If Windows Phone users can run the Android version of Google Maps, for example, why would Google spend time and money making a proper Windows Phone version?
This could be one of the reasons why BlackBerry 10’s app catalog has seen such disappointing growth over the last 12 months, and that’s something Microsoft will want to avoid for Windows Phone.
As things stand, though, this is simply an option on the table for Microsoft. There’s no guarantee the company will pursue it, and if it does, it’s unlikely the feature would be available until Microsoft rolls out Windows 9 in 2015 at the earliest, the sources claim.
In the meantime, Microsoft could be about to embrace Android in other ways through Nokia. Countless reports claim we’ll finally see Nokia’s Android-powered Normandy smartphone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month, and that it will be the first of many Android devices to come from the Finnish firm throughout 2014.
Source: The Verge