Once upon a time Windows the operating system that ruled the world, with Mac OS a distant second and Linux containing an invisible world of networks and servers. Today, however, not only have Linux and macOS risen through the ranks, there are also Android, iOS, iPadOS, and even Chrome OS to contend with. Rather than concede defeat entirely, Microsoft is embracing some of these competing platforms instead, with rumors of deeper integration with Android that would allow its mobile apps to run directly on Windows 10 by 2021 at the earliest.
It is of course already possible to run Android applications on Windows. There are emulators and tools like Bluestack that have focused more on gaming, as well as Microsoft’s Your Phone utility which can run apps from a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone as if they were native. Based on Windows Central’s brief briefing, Microsoft could aim for something even more transparent that would allow users to install Android apps from its Microsoft Store.
To some extent, this would reflect Chrome OS’s ability to run Android apps somewhat natively, which requires support for the Android runtime itself on Windows. Given the open nature of Android and Microsoft’s own expertise, not to mention its work with the Windows Subsystem for Linux, that’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Running native Android apps is only part of the equation, however, and Microsoft will need to do a lot more work to make it a compelling and engaging feature.
The biggest question mark will be support for Google Play, which Google probably won’t want to allow. Without the Google Play Store and services, Microsoft will either have to keep up with Huawei or at least create its own app store like Samsung. However, neither would be an ideal situation.
The report also contains news for Windows 10X that could end up becoming DOA when it launches in spring 2021. Not only will this “light” edition of Windows 10 only work on traditional laptops and tablets, it won’t benefit from support for win32 until 2022. Microsoft will rely more on the streaming of “Cloud PC” applications and perhaps on the support of Android applications to get by there.