There are rumours that Microsoft will introduce a Surface Phone. There are other rumours that Microsoft will exit the phone software platform business completely and admit defeat.
Now consider, what if Windows could run any Android applications along side current Windows and in addition to Windows programs, would you then consider a Surface Phone?
This may sound far fetched, but with current projects already under-way running Android applications in Windows is almost there already.
Technically, this is almost done already.
Consider these two projects:
- Unbuntu on windows. Produced in collaboration between Microsoft and Ubuntu (canonical) This already works, although only within the ‘insider community’ until July 2016, and does not currently offer support for graphics programs although this can work.
- Shashlik. Android apps on Linux, including on Ubuntu. No, it does not yet run on Ubuntu on Windows (as far as I know), but this would be so easy if Microsoft decided to assist.
Would Google Support This?
Technically google cannot stop the Shashlik project, but Google could be supporting or obstructive. Currently, it is likely not significant enough for Google to care.
Both the current Shashlik project and an extension to Ubuntu on Android would increase the market reach for play store apps, and play store apps are revenue for Google. If this ‘Android on Windows’ launches buy this path it would mean Android Apps on not just those Windows Phones, but potentially on every Windows Device.
This has much greater potential revenue and reach for Google than the Shashlik project in current form. This should be attractive to Google independently of being offered by Microsoft on Phones.
Should Microsoft Follow this Path?
It is hard to see why not. Surface devices are already successful, but this would certainly enhance their appeal as laptops that can also be a tablet (or the reverse). None of the potential negatives (see below) seems to have substance. Microsoft may have a strategy that is going to make a phone platform compelling without this, but it would be hubris to not also permit this path. Or Microsoft may also simply give up on mobile devices, but that would also be a big risk in terms of possible futures.
What reasons exist for not following this path? Possibilities:
Microsoft is worried App developers will drop windows for Android.
Microsoft currently does not earn significant revenues in the tablet app market. Not all windows users are going to start enabling Android apps. This could be installed by default on phones, but require steps to activate on the desktop. An app developer currently supporting the windows platform would be lose potential market by assuming widows users will now install the android app. For app developers, you need to know there will be a market, and a step like this will save Windows Phone app developers from seeing their market fail completely, which would damage the entire Microsoft ecosystem.
This is a path Microsoft should follow, and the sooner they announce a direction like this, the better the future for Microsoft in Mobile Devices and hence in general. There is no need to specifically use Shashlik, but they are an example of what can be done.