Mobile

Microsoft considers bringing Android apps to Windows: A quick fix for a long-term problem

Above: A serious Android at Google I/O 2013.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

Intel isn’t the only company that sees potential in Android apps on Windows.

Microsoft is reportedly considering bringing Android apps over to Windows and Windows Phone, which could help to solve its perennial app-availability problems, according to The Verge.

While details are slim, sources say that Microsoft is currently in an internal battle between people who want to open up its app stores to Android apps and those who believe that doing so would kill Microsoft’s platforms entirely.

I’d personally be more surprised if Microsoft wasn’t considering bringing on Android apps at all. The company has slowly built up its Windows 8 and Windows Phone app stores, but it’s still merely playing catchup to Apple and Google. Microsoft doesn’t have much in the way of exclusive apps that would convince people to buy its phones, and when developers do end up building Windows apps, they typically come long after iOS and Android versions.

Supporting Android apps could solve some immediate problems for Microsoft — but it would be at the expense of the Windows ecosystem in the long run. Developers would have little reason to create apps specifically for Windows, and all of the time Microsoft has spent bringing together Windows and Windows Phone app development would have been for nothing.

Intel announced its own initiative to bring Android to Windows PCs last month in a bid to help spur on PC sales — but it will likely be a while until we see computer makers adopting that.

Microsoft has certainly had a slow start when it comes to apps, but it still has the only platform that supports easy app development across mobile devices and traditional computers. Since Windows Phone runs on the Windows 8 kernel (a decision that left earlier Windows Phone users in the dust), it’s easy for devs to port their Windows 8 apps to Windows Phone.

That’s something Microsoft has been trying to entice developers with for years now — to little effect. Android apps may help Microsoft grab some new users quickly, but they will ultimately devalue the one unique app ecosystem advantage Microsoft has right now.

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