Microsoft has had the bright idea to allow the entire Android app catalogue to be ran on windows phone platform. How this will be accomplished is unclear at the moment and is this the start of the end for Windows phone?
The reason why Microsoft is rumoured to be doing this is that developers are just not developing for the platform and therefore the market is look very weak compared to other platforms such as iOS and Android. This is quite a surprise considering that Windows phone is probably the easiest platform to develop for, as it uses the .net framework and C# or VB.net which is already in use on desktop Windows, instead of a specially built set of developer tools. Targeting Windows phone is as easy as changing the project template in Visual studio and most of your code from other .net projects is reusable, so the question is why developers are making things harder for themselves.
One argument is that the tools required are not available on all platforms, unlike Apple this is not the case. While yes Visual studio is only available for Windows, there is the mono project for other platforms such as Linux based systems and OSX, so therefore developers can use any platform they want.
Even though the tools are there this comes down to weathers there’s a point to making the app for a specified platform. With all of the big name companies they need to be sure the projected amount of users is viable for the cost of developing and maintaining the app. Unfortunately Windows phone is currently in third place in the ranking for mobile device operating systems and as a result it doesn’t have a very big market share and this is why Windows phone misses out on some of the major apps such as snapchat and until recently an official YouTube client.
The interesting thing is how we expect Microsoft to add in the functionality for running android apps. The same sort of thing has been done on the desktop in the form of the third party tool blue stacks which allows for running Android apps on windows desktop. The best way that Microsoft could implement this is to use a virtual machine in order to run a complete version of Android side by side with Windows phone, this would make for complete compatibility for all Android apps including Core google services and apps written with the NDK opposed to SDK.
The other way that Microsoft could do this is to write their own implementation of the Dalvik VM, this would give the ability to run some Android apps but Windows phone would miss out on anything that uses the Google services or API’s and anything written with the NDK. The apps that Windows phone would miss out make up a surprising chunk or the Android catalogue and therefore will most likely not be worth the time, effort and money that Microsoft would spend. Although this method is much lighter on system resources as they won’t need a whole version of Android running at the same time.
Unfortunately whichever way that Microsoft goes they are putting the last nail in the coffin for Windows Phone. The best thing to do here would be for Microsoft to produce an incentive program in order to let get developers making apps for Windows phone instead of letting the app ecosystem dying a slow and painful death. Even though it would be useful to have the ability to run Android apps on Windows phone it is just not in the best interests for Microsoft to do so and have Windows phone as a contender in the Mobile space.
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