Recently Mary Joe Foley and Paul Thurrott have been hearing about the possibility that Microsoft is considering adopting and/or enabling android apps to run within the windows ecosystem. They talk about how the Nokia X line could play into this plan and other logical realities if Microsoft were follow this path. This path though would be the equivalent of Microsoft going to Google every day and asking to be punched in the gut. Microsoft has never dipped so low. Microsoft still has a story to tell, there is no other company in existence that can cover a person’s and companies need end to end. The question is not what Microsoft does it’s what it doesn’t do. There is no question whether Microsoft’s tools for reaching all its products from end to end is superior to just about anything out there at everything that there tools do. There are questions whether Microsoft’s consumer offerings are strong enough and whether the development environment for them is too restrictive.
By following this rumored path Microsoft would be choosing to level the playing field in the one place where it has the biggest advantage, with developers, instead of leveraging that advantage. What Microsoft hopes to do is by leveling that playing field it can bring windows phone to app parody. Yet this hands much of the fate of the already shaky windows phone ecosystem over to an outright hostile google. What consumer oriented developers Microsoft has left will reasonably, and logically should jump ship over to google as there would be no point in ever developing for the platform again. Combined with the fact google will do everything it can to make the android app experience poor on Microsoft’s platforms, makes it a horrible pan for Microsoft. So what can Microsoft do, this is what the market is dictating, this is what people want. Microsoft has an opportunity to reset the board without losing any of its advantages, but it is running out of time to do so. Right now there is a buzz about Microsoft’s platforms between Cortana, the improvements in WP8.1, and the improving device eco-system around Windows 8.1 but if it loses this current excitement around what is coming down the pike it will likely lose the ecosystem wars for good. So what is this magical plan to avoid these fates? Port the Windows RT (WRT)/ Windows Phone RT (WPRT) to Android and what would we call this why what else but Windows-Android Run Time (WART) of course. That little nickname describes it perfectly, it would be a wart of the side of android thriving feeding off of and be very ghastly and annoying to android (aka google). How could Microsoft do this … google would never allow it. It starts with Nokia X, cloud compiling, and Xamerin and ends with a Windows Phone Pro (AOSP fork) edition.
This brings me to the reason I am writing/posting this today is I have been floating this idea around the web without much traction for about two months now, with the more confirmation of credible rumors by MJ today that Xamerin will be bought by Microsoft. Once Microsoft owns Xamerin with some it can put its C# conversion abilities into the cloud compilation service allowing windows phone apps to be available to run on android with about as much work as it takes for a developer to port back and forth between WPRT and WRT. This of course will just be the first generation of the technology because at the core the android apps would still be using the Android Run Time eventually Microsoft would be able to make an open source unix version of its highly efficient runtime and add its own abilities, controls, API’s, and eventually even Cortana to Android much like Samsung is doing between Tizen and Android. Allowing or even cutting patent licensing costs if a manufacturer decides to include WART. Now Google’s obvious reaction to a manufacturer including WART would be to withhold Play Services, but Microsoft is ready to catch those manufacturers with “X services” inherited from the Nokia X. These “X services” give Microsoft an Android App Store, and API replacements for google services. By starting this store now it can gain traditional android apps so that when you lose the PlayStore the hit won’t be nearly as bad. When WART apps start arriving there will be an advantage to the user as well because when they buy from the “X Store”/”marketplace” they will be getting that app on three platforms of choice and not just one. Same thing goes for developers. Then it can truly becomes a battle of which developer ecosystem is better and not which platform / ecosystem has a larger installed base a battle where Microsoft can stand a lot taller.
Developers can trust Microsoft to keep android compatibility because Microsoft can slowly adopt android as the “power user” environment. That’s a good part of the reason android is so popular, because the power users who love to customize recommend it regardless of its usability by the average user. Microsoft watchers can hope the new unified operating system team will adopt this philosophy of two windows (power user vs average user) retrospectively (cause we know it didn’t happen at the start) and the android environment (or even just UI eventually.. dropping the rest) will become this power user experimental grounds for windows on the phone thus showing a Microsoft investment in what I’ll call Windows Phone Pro and therefor developers can trust Microsoft even more..
I understand much of this is a pipe dream that will never work quite as I have described it but even 1/8th of my plan implemented would be better than android on windows. Please leave your comments on my ideas below, but first please read the This.About page so you can understand my perspective and that I am not a writer just a college student with a lot of ideas.