Microsoft is hard at work on a new system that’ll allow its desktop operating system to run Android apps. Windows 10 is already able to run some Android apps using the Your Phone app, which syncs with the software of the same name on your Android handset to bring text messages, notifications and incoming calls to your desktop PC or laptop, as well as limited access to your apps.
Launching apps from within Your Phone works by streaming the content from the apps from the handset in your pocket to Windows 10. That’s a pretty nifty workaround and works well enough to allow Windows 10 users to quickly jump into WhatsApp from their desktop to reply to a message, or scroll through their Instagram feed without the hassle of taking out their phone.
However, Microsoft is working on something more substantial. With a hefty 70 percent marketshare, Android is incredibly popular. And crucially – unlike its rival iOS, which powers Apple’s iPhone series – it’s an open ecosystem. Provided that Microsoft can sort the underlying subsystem to run Android apps, there’s nothing stopping Windows 10 users installing them to their desktop. That’s something that’s not possible with iOS apps, unless the hardware is designed and sold by Apple.
Reports that Microsoft is looking to double-down on its support for Android apps comes courtesy of Zac Bowden of Windows Central, who has a phenomenal track record when it comes to whispers of as-yet-unannounced Windows 10 features. According to Bowden, the new system designed by Microsoft would enable Android apps to be stocked in the Microsoft Store and installed like native Windows 10 apps. Under the bonnet, these apps will be running inside a virtualised environment – mimicking and Android smartphone.
But from the outside, to most Windows 10 users, it’ll simply look as if the Android app has installed like a native Windows app and is accessible from within the Start Menu. And unlike the Your Phone app… it won’t matter whether your smartphone is nearby or connected to the internet. The Android apps will still load exactly as planned.
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“Microsoft is working on a software solution that would allow app developers to bring their Android apps to Windows 10 with little to no code changes by packaging them as an MSIX and allowing developers to submit them to the Microsoft Store,” Zac Bowden writes at Windows Central.
Bowden says it’s unlikely Microsoft’s new technology will allow Windows 10 users to install the Google Play Store onto their desktop PCs and laptops as Google does not allow its one-stop-shop for digital rentals, Android apps, and ebooks to be installed on non-native Android or Chrome OS devices.
That means the developers behind Android apps will need to package them and distribute them within the Microsoft Store if they want their apps to be available to Windows 10 users. With more than one billion Windows 10 installations worldwide, it could open up an entirely new market for some of the most critically lauded Android apps and games… however, it will require extra work from the developers, so don’t expect all of your favourites to be able to download from the Microsoft Store at launch.
Crucially, it means Microsoft will need to create its own task-force to police the Android apps being submitted to the Microsoft Store. Google has struggled to combat the sheer number of fraudulent apps, malware, adware, and ransomware that have infiltrated the Google Play Store.
According to recent research, the biggest threat to Android users remains the Google Play Store – as this is the primary source for most malware infections.