The mobile app wars are heating up quicker than summer in the southern hemisphere. Tech website The Verge has the inside scoop on the latest rumours surrounding Microsoft’s battle plans in the app wars.
According to The Verge’s contacts close to Microsoft a radical change in approach is being considered, the Metro tile interface may soon be Android compatible.
Android is currently the leader in the mobile app market with over a million apps in the store, while Microsoft is in uncomfortable third place (200,000), bringing Android apps to the world of tiles may just catapult them into an equal first place in one foul swoop.
Internally Microsoft is wrestling with its demons, on the one hand bringing Android to Metro will solve the app problem but many Microsoft insiders are concerned that it may also kill of any traction that Metro has achieved so far. This strategy however would have very little effect upon desktop development for Windows, but it may kill of Metro development as we know it.
This leads to a question that has to be asked ‘would it be any great loss if the Metro apps were wholesale switched out for Android apps?’ If Microsoft were smart with their rendering engine the users may not even notice any visual difference. Theoretically if Microsoft helped to convert the few apps unique to Windows Metro over to Android and then allow all Android apps onto the tiles the problem would be solved.
Another interesting possibility is what if Metro ran Android apps better than Android? The ability to properly multitask and window apps is a serious user advantage along with resolution independence. Leveraging Microsoft’s OS advantage is something that has been seriously neglected by MS thus far but that may soon change.
Interestingly bringing Android apps to the world of tiles also brings these apps to all of the other Metro platforms, including the Surface tablets (RT and Pro) and XBox. While Angry Birds isn’t going to make or break the console it would produce the only platform capable of playing games from basic to very polished AAA titles, stealing the Android console market in one move. The Surface RT and Surface Pro’s are simply a perfect fit for Android apps.
This still leaves the app store as an issue, providing a more defined split between Metro and Desktop apps could easily solve this. This is not a technical issue but more of an organisational issue that would require agreements and such. Microsoft may even have to join Google’s open source foundation that drives the development of Android.
Running Android apps on Windows is in fact already possible via BlueStacks software, demonstrating that technically this is not a difficult task to achieve but it is a big call that will require lots of balls by MS’s new boss, has it got what it takes?
One of the other difficulties for Microsoft is regaining the developer world; this was the secret to their success initially. Well this and monopolistic practices, a practice that has evaporated as an option before their eyes. Visual Studio is already capable of cross-compiling and producing software for a variety of platforms but MS may have to resort to the old give it away for free trick to capture this market back. They also need to reduce the development time taken to produce apps with Studio, the time overhead is limiting the number of independent developers using the software, especially kids just starting out.
Will the rumours eventuate? In the old days of Microsoft, before the elephant learned to dance the question would have been answered with a resounding NO, but times have changed and Microsoft must fight for every percentage point of market share.
This is a good thing however and leads us here at Highpants to believe that Android on Windows is a very serious possibility. Initially MS may just purchase BlueStacks and provide a way to side load apps (load apps without the Android store).
Ultimately success for Microsoft will come from giving the people what they want, something that Google has been able to consistently achieve with great success.
Reference: The Verge