We’ve seen a number of rumors surrounding Microsoft purportedly adding Android application support to Windows 10 and now, the news coming in is that it seems Windows 10-based smartphones are going to be able to run Android applications via an embedded runtime. There are a few caveats, however: the first is that developers will be required to point Google APIs, such as Maps, towards an equivalent Microsoft service. The service will also only work on Windows 10 smartphones; tablets and PCs do not appear to be supported at this juncture. It’s also not clear how well these applications will run with the APIs redirected, as developers will need to refactor their Java and C++ code in order to support the Windows ecosystem. However, we have seen Android applications run reasonably well on the BlackBerry 10 platform with a similar solution. At the same time, Microsoft also announced that iOS Objective-C code could be debugged and ported to Windows 10 for both mobile and desktop. It explained that King, the creator of Candy Crush Saga, used Microsoft’s Visual Studio with Objective-C support to port Candy Crush to the Windows Phone platform.
Today’s announcement ends months of speculations surrounded how or if Microsoft was to allow Android applications to run on the Windows 10 environment and the many rumors surrounding, how they were going to achieve this. Today’s plans means that iOS and Android developers will be able to port their applications and games directly to the Windows universal applications via two software development kits. Terry Myerson, Microsoft, explains: “We want to enable developers to leverage their current code and current skills to start building those Windows applications in the Store, and to be able to extend those applications.” In other words, Microsoft wants to encourage developers to build applications for Windows 10 without having to reinvent the wheel. “If they’re using some Google API… we have created Microsoft replacements for those APIs.” Ultimately, Microsoft’s wish is for developers to leverage their own systems and services such as Cortana, Xbox Live, Live Tiles and more. By providing developers with this easy to use system, it means that Windows 10 is third in the queue of operating systems to have applications developed for it, after Android and iOS.
Microsoft also revealed how it has created a way for websites to run inside a Windows universal application – this should allow website owners to easily create web applications with minimal effort and list these in the Windows Store. Whilst a web app isn’t as effective as a native application, it’s a solution that works. Ultimately, Microsoft would like for developers to build native applications for Windows 10 and is making provisions for .NET and Win32 applications to be easily converted into Windows Universal applications, including utilising some of their HyperV work, to virtualize these existing applications on Windows 10. Nevertheless, Microsoft needs Windows 10 to succeed and for this, it needs a vibrant and busy application community. There are issues for it to contend with, including the potentially problematic aspect of ported application compatibility, but this is a starting place and a way for Windows 10 to run Android applications.