In a recent interview, Bill Gates has said that his biggest regret was that he didn’t come up with a decent alternative to iOS and ceded that ground to Google. The fallout from that was the death of Windows Mobile/Windows Phone, the disastrous purchase, destruction and sell-off of Nokia and Android now being the most used mobile OS on the planet. But Microsoft has a new plan; running Android apps on Windows.
Over the last few years, since Satya Nadella has taken the helm at Microsoft, the company has adopted a much more open strategy and now offers versions of many of its products and services for iOS and Android. While Windows still dominates the PC OS world, Microsoft realised that making its software multi-platform was the best way to ensure its future.
Over the last few weeks, Microsoft has been showing off a new device dubbed Centaurus – basically a dual-screen Surface. It’s rumoured to be running another version of Windows 10, called Window 10 Lite. It’s designed to run on devices with ARM processors and less powerful hardware. If it makes the market, Windows Lite will compete against Chrome OS.
The idea is that Microsoft could make it possible to run Chrome apps on Windows Lite. Not only does that make Windows Lite a competitor but it allows Chrome OS users to migrate more easily to Microsoft’s platform.
It’s not the first time Microsoft has dabbled with supporting mobile devices. At one stage, they looked at running iOS apps on Windows. At the time, the company was very concerned with protecting its Windows market share and discovered that making iOS apps work on a Windows device was so easy that they believed it would make people ask why they would even bother with Windows.
But Android offers some different opportunities. For a start, Microsoft could leverage its Windows Store to create a new place for purchasers to access curated Android apps. Given the amount of Android malware around, this could be a significant benefit to users and provide Microsoft with another revenue stream.
While Gates’ regret at not creating an iOS competitor resulted in years in the mobile device wilderness for Microsoft, it seems the company is moving forward and coming up with a new strategy that brings Windows and Android a little closer together.