Microsoft rumored to eye Android apps on Windows phones

Insider information or wishful thinking? That might be the first thing you think when you hear about this latest rumor coming out of Redmond. Several sources are claiming that Microsoft is, at least internally, looking into emulation technologies to make Android apps run on Windows phones. Why? Supposedly to finally resolve the dearth of apps on Windows mobile devices. But is this a solution that could help boost the adoption of Microsoft's mobile platform or will it be suicide for the software vendor in the long run?

Windows Phone has been notorious for its lack of apps. Scratch that. It is notorious for the lack of popular, high-quality apps. For example, it was late in the game to get Instagram's official app, and even then it wasn't a fully featured one. Some popular mobile games don't even cast a shadow on the platform. The situation is a stark contrast to Windows Phone's big brother, Windows 8, which could support a whole range of apps, both touch and conventional desktop. The red-headed stepchild Windows RT fared no better.

This problem isn't unique to Windows Phone however. BlackBerry and startup Jolla faced the same challenges. In both cases, their solution was the same: add support for Android apps. Jolla licensed technology that let Android apps run on its Sailfish OS, while BlackBerry's own Android Runtime compatibility layer did the same for BlackBerry 10. The latter even struck a deal with Amazon to become its official Android app distribution channel. This seems to be the very same motivation behind the rumors of Android apps running n Windows Phone that just wouldn't die.

It seems like a nice and easy solution, both for Android users daring to make a transition to the Windows platform and long time users dying from app envy. It may not, however, be to Microsoft's benefit in the long run. The company has just started its more aggressive push to unify its platforms, not just in brand but also in technologies. Its universal apps goal, to be exact, aims to help developers write apps that run on all supported platforms, including desktops, tablets, and phones. It is a fresh new attempt that could encourage developers to take another stab at supporting the platform with native Windows apps. Adding Android compatibility to the mix will only serve to dilute the message.

That's not to say Microsoft is guaranteed to succeed in this endeavor. It could very well fall flat on its face again, with very software developers willing to write a 3rd app for a 3rd platform. In that sense, it is perhaps also wise that Microsoft is looking into a Plan B that could save the day when it all goes south. Whether that actually happens when Windows 10 goes out the door, we might hear about it in BUILD later in April, if at all.

VIA: Digital Trends