Microsoft’s recent launch of its latest operating system, Windows 10, promised a reinvigorated ecosystem, including an improved mobile experience. Although the software giant’s latest releases have been welcome additions to its product family, Windows 10 Mobile is still suffering from what has always been the platform’s Achilles heel: a lack of apps. Microsoft may be in danger of falling further behind in the mobile space, but the company may have a solution up its sleeves. The bigger question is whether or not Microsoft will decide to implement it.
The Windows Store has come far and hosts numerous apps, but the fact remains that it doesn’t compete with the offerings from rival platforms Android and iOS. Windows’ smaller ecosystem is arguably one of the only flaws its mobile devices have, but it is large enough to resonate with potential customers who ultimately turn to the well-stocked Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Microsoft has demonstrated a determination for Windows Mobile, and there are signs it’s not planning on moving on anytime soon. The company has developed Windows Bridge for Android, a technology that Microsoft has designed to give a boost to its mobile handsets. Windows Bridge for Android allows for developers with Android apps to painlessly port them to the Windows 10 ecosystem. This technology isn’t Microsoft’s complete solution, but it does serve as an example of the vision the company has.
The services firm has been developing a more all-encompassing answer to its app woes. Technology that would allow Windows 10 to run Android apps as they are, without needing extensive redesigning by developers, is the eventual goal. Having the ability to offer apps from another more popular platform would eliminate most of Windows users’ problems in finding a needed app and lessen the work for developers who may not be able to run several versions of their apps. However, Microsoft is not in a hurry to implement this technology because it is far from an ideal solution. In a perfect world, Windows 10 would have a massive developer community, as does Android, and apps would work between ecosystems and be available in either of them. In reality, porting Android apps and essentially combining the two platforms only benefits Android, whose developers can now reach a wider audience than before. Windows, on the other hand, benefits from a leap in app availability, but now developers would most likely not even consider developing directly for the platform. There would be little reason for developers to take the effort to create a new app for Windows when one for Android would have the same effect for half the effort.
In addition to the logistical issues developing for two separate platforms would entail, Microsoft appears to be hesitant to introduce the technology because in the long run it may render Windows 10 irrelevant. It is possible eliminating a rival operating system will prove to be a disadvantage for consumers, who would then have fewer choices. Also, they would see less competition from other companies, who are then more likely to become complacent. The Windows operating system has garnered positive reviews for its intuitive design and layout, but its difficulty in populating the app store is still there. If Microsoft is willing to take the risk and add some material design to Windows, its platform will, for now, conquer a significant weakness. If Microsoft isn’t willing to possibly forsake the long term future of Windows 10, don’t expect the new feature anytime soon. Despite its best efforts in creating an otherwise well-received mobile platform, the company hasn’t been successful in attracting a developer community willing to take the Windows Store to the next level. Windows 10 Mobile has a relatively small market share, and it places as a distant third to Android and iOS.