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Could Microsoft Be Working On Their Own Version Of Android?

October 21, 2015 - Written By Diego Macias

In recent times, Microsoft has not been all that successful with their mobile platform, Windows Phone had less than 3% in global market share in the second quarter of this year. Since Windows Phone 7 was announced back in 2010, it had a radically different look from what other platforms offered, its iconography was flat and colorful and the only personalization available was to rearrange the icons and change the accent colors. A lot has changed since then, but even as the company has recently announced the version of Windows 10 for phones, it doesn’t seem to include enough features to make users from other platforms switch to theirs. The main problem for this platform has always been the lack of support from developers to make apps for the operating system.

A recent statement from Microsoft’s executive Julie Larson-Green has kept some of us thinking that Microsoft could change their approach with mobile devices. Someone asked her if they would ever use Android in their products and instead of denying it, she just replied, “We’ll go wherever our customers are”. To assume that this means that they are working on a custom version of Android based on this would be a long shot, but let’s take a look at what Microsoft has been doing recently in regards to Android.

Microsoft has a partnership with Cyanogen, which creates one of the most popular custom versions of Android, so they can use apps and services from Microsoft. Microsoft has also acquired some companies that represent integral features in an operating system such as Acompli for e-mail, Sunrise and its mobile calendars, Wunderlist which has a to-do list app, and Double Labs, responsible for making a very popular lock-screen for Android. A recent patent granted to Microsoft introduces the possibility of using two operating systems on a single device. Finally, Microsoft has been launching some apps and services for Android.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Microsoft modifies the way Android looks, as they did in the Nokia X series last year which were overlaid with a Windows Phone look and feel. Not to mention, they didn’t have access to Google’s services including the Play Store and the whole skin just looked inconsistent. Of course, Microsoft would want to use their own services in this new skin, particularly Bing as the default search engine and Cortana as a digital assistant. This way, more users could get a chance to try their services, which would be good for Microsoft. The company has taught developers how to migrate their apps from Android to Windows, so they could probably do a reverse process and teach them how to make their Windows apps with a new Android ROM.