Microsoft has announced that it will support developers who want to make their existing Android and iOS apps available on Windows 10. Have we seen this strategy before from IBM and RIM, or is this something new?
Microsoft's Build developer conference in late April was the site of a headline-making announcement: both Android and iOS apps will be supported on the upcoming Windows 10 Mobile devices, according to Tech Times.
Other companies have ventured into the non-native app arena before, and they haven’t emerged victorious. Will Microsoft follow the trend, or blaze a new trail?
Set up for Failure
In the eighties and nineties, IBM's OS/2 operating system and machines ran a "better Windows than Windows." OS/2 ran Windows so perfectly, in fact, that it essentially rendered itself useless.
Software developers decided to only code applications for Windows, since such programs would run equally well on both operating systems, and the development of OS/2-only programs came to be seen as an unnecessary hassle.
IBM's failure as an operating system vendor was not necessarily brought about by OS/2's support for Windows programs, though — as Ars Technica puts it, "the brutal, painful truth... was that Windows 95 was simply a better product."
In more recent history, Blackberry 10 devices allowed out-of-the-box support for Android apps in order to convince consumers to buy more devices of that type. This was a last, desperate attempt for RIM, and was largely seen as a white-flag being waved by a dying competitor in the smartphone industry.
Window to the World
Windows doesn’t have to be quite as nervous about supporting non-native apps such as Android and iOS. Because Windows 10 is a multi-device operating system with built in support for apps ported from Android and iOS, it’s been set up for more success.
Android is ready to run because of a runtime layer incorporated into the Windows OS. iOS apps, however, will still require some “tweaking” in order to function on Windows Phone, according to Windows Central.
Some code will need to be re-written before iOS apps work as expected, and the end products not be of the same quality or functionality as their Android cousins. Simply porting the apps though, is not where the work stops.
Bug and performance fixes will still be apparent, and the work needed to stay consistent with app updates will amount to serious problems.
Going the Whole Nine Yards
App developers will still have the ability to create apps for their given smart device, and Windows developers can even rewrite their previously created apps in order to integrate with Windows 10 functionality, utilizing XBox Live, Cortana, Live Tiles, and Holograms.
Then again, easy-to-use platforms like AppMakr have always made it simple to design for all platforms, no coding required.
For now, the question is not whether Microsoft will squeeze Android or iOS out of the market, but whether it they will stay in the smartphone business in the short term by enticing consumers with a better app selection and cross-platform services. With a vastly increased app selection, that certainly looks like a possibility.
Microsoft features and services like Cortana, OneDrive, and several others have been made available on iOS and Android already, according to The Verge, which, although it leaves little incentive for developers to make Windows Phone-specific apps, is great for consumers looking for a more unified, yet decidedly non-Apple experience.
These are very interesting times for Microsoft, and it is anyone’s guess as to where this move will take the company.
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