Microsoft reportedly considering bringing Android apps to Windows

by: Andrew GrushFebruary 12, 2014

WIndows vs Android Windows 8 Android Logo Brand -2

According to a new report from the Verge, Microsoft is weighing the possibility of adding Android app support to Windows and Windows Phone.

As tablet and smartphone shipments continue to increase, PC shipments slowly decline. The writing is on the wall: although traditional PCs will likely have a place in the enterprise, education and gaming world for a long time to come, the reality is that a desktop or laptop’s relevance among everyday consumers is starting to fade.

Microsoft knows this, and that’s exactly why they attempted to bridge their mobile and desktop efforts with Windows 8. It’s also why they continue to push Windows Phone 8, and why their new CEO Satya Nadella indicates that mobile and cloud computing are major focuses for the company.

Microsoft’s biggest weakness in the mobile world is arguably its lack of apps. There are a number of folks that legitimately like the designs of Nokia handset and even prefer the tiled UI found on Windows, but many consumers aren’t willing to leave all their favorite apps behind.

Microsoft is reportedly in the “early stages” of bringing Android app support to Windows.

In the desktop world, we’ve seen efforts to address the app issue by throwing an Android band-aid on top. This includes well-established emulation software like BlueStacks, or even the more recent Intel-led “Dual OS” approach. If a new report from the Verge proves correct, Microsoft is seriously thinking about using a similar method to bring Android apps to both its desktop and mobile OSes.

Citing unnamed sources, the report claims that Microsoft is currently in the “early stages” of discussing or planning such a move, and that there are very mixed emotions internally about whether such a change is the right one for Microsoft.

It’s also unknown whether Microsoft would build its own system or use an existing method, like the two highlighted above. For what it’s worth, sources familiar with Intel’s plans have reportedly indicated that the company has been pushing Microsoft to provide Android apps in its Windows store already.

Regardless of what method Microsoft uses, a few things will likely hold true. First, Microsoft will want to curate the list of apps that are ported and will want to control the distribution directly through its Windows app stores. Second, Microsoft will probably try and find a way to encourage developers to push native apps first, with Android porting as a fallback option.

Is bringing Android to Windows a good idea?

We have seen this all play out with Blackberry before. First, allowing easy porting of Android apps to Blackberry, then full-out allowing any Android APK to run on BB10. None of these changes have done much for Blackberry, but it’s important to remember that Microsoft is in a very different position than Blackberry.

For starters, Microsoft is a very powerful player in the desktop world and Windows Phone 8 is actually growing in terms of global market presence-– even if not as quickly or impressively as more established platforms like iOS and Android.

Microsoft could leverage Android app support as a way to fill the gaps in their existing app library.

If handled carefully, Microsoft could leverage Android app support as a way to fill the gaps in their existing app library. With continued global marketing, Windows with better app support could appeal to tablet users looking for both a mobile experience and the ability to run traditional business apps and games. On the phone side, folks that aren’t swayed by iOS, and are looking for something that is perceived as “simpler” than Android, could be attracted by Windows Phone if it had better app support.

As more consumers move towards Windows Phone 8 due to improved app support, these users would be more likely to use the included Microsoft cloud apps for storage, searching and more. This would help Microsoft’s second focus: improving their cloud efforts.

Of course the reality isn’t this simple. There are no guarantees that adding Android apps would magically make Windows more appealing. There’s also the risk that such a move will kill developer interest in native apps, which will lead to the Windows store being flooded by Android apps that feature designs that are inconsistent with the modern/Metro look.

Bottom-line, adding Android app supports could potentially help Microsoft temporarily play catch up to its mobile rivals, but there are some very real risks. What do you think, could bringing Android support to Windows provide the jumpstart Microsoft needs to better compete with Google and Apple in the mobile arena? Or will it ultimately hurt the Windows brand?

  • AndroidBoss

    Microsoft, your Windows phones will never be anything like Android.

    • Bomj

      Do they have to?

  • Christian Koch

    I don’t think they will do it, if there is a simple method to run Android apps on Windows devices, developers will stop developing for it (since Android is the much larger market and Windows 8 would just be a nice add on).

    Though, having a windows 8 Tablet with Android does sound very nice…


    As expected. That looks like their long term goal.
    1. Bring android apps on windows store.
    2. Windows metro can install Android apps from windows store.
    3. Build nokia android that can only install apps from windows store (no google play).
    4. Finally, WP phone can install Android apps from windows store.

    That’s the path of least resistance. God damn Microsoft!

  • Luka Mlinar

    Microsoft just admit defeat and get it over with. You’re just prolonging the inevitable.

  • anon

    As a developer, all this would do for me is tell me that I wouldn’t have to develop my apps for windows. I’d just make an android version and call it a day. I don’t think this will help microsoft that much.

  • Mpagama

    All the best Microsoft i known you can do this,only apps are the obstacles so clear that session and you will be able to challenge Android easily…

  • jarjacksn

    I don’t think you understand how much I want this. Amazing. If this goes well, and android app support comes to windows… Imagine if even launchers were supported. Windows tablets could destroy android tablets on the high-med price range.

  • TheTruthALWAYSWins

    So much “crap” they talked about Google and now look where they ended up….. kissing them RIGHT-IN-THE-BUTT! Haha! #scroogled

    • Nex Unit

      Pucker up Microsoft!

    • MadCowOnAStick


  • Tuấn Ankh

    Sounds good to me. I have a Windows phone, and trust me, their apps suck. Not only Google apps are not available, the app selection in general still sucks. Man, Microsoft cannot even build a good facebook app (yes, it’s built by Microsoft). It’s better than the version earlier last summer, but it’s still so slow comparing to the one we get on Android. I also assume the ability of running Android apps will also bring Google Maps to WP. HERE Maps is okay and HERE Drive is kinda good, but it got me got twice during 2 months of using a Windows phone (8) as a daily driver. The addresses on that map aren’t very well updated.

    Bu then the thing is… Android apps will make WP seem like an inferior OS that needs to depend on Google, so I don’t think it’s a very smart move for MS to do. Just stick with the Windowsphone’ app store, and let the OS and its ecosystem to either improve for competition or to simply die out. Simple as that. I will get a WP flagship once Windows Phone can really catches up, and I hope it will come by the end of this year.

  • AA :P

    sorry satya nadella, ballmer f***ed up MS real bad. MS should curl up and die, we had enough of their FUD, scroogling etc

  • Nate Wilson

    An organisation which needs a complete revival of fortunes. A step has been taken in the right direction in the form of Satya Nadella. But he better get his act together before long! There’s nothing wrong in accepting new technology. Times change, as do people and their needs. If the need of the hour is android, so be it. Microsoft, you are too old to throw tantrums.Get your shit together and reinvent yourself. Good luck.

  • Matt

    I’d certainly buy a windows phone if it ran android apks

  • John Henry

    They need android apps on windows rt , NOBODY is developing anything for windows right now as it is , Hell they need something to keep people thats on windows there .