Microsoft, leave Android apps alone

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| February 13, 2014

Around the middle of the day yesterday, some interesting reports started to make their way around the 'net. They focused on Microsoft's Windows Phone, and some changes that could be coming to the platform to shake things up. Admittedly, when I started to read through the content, there was a small part of me that got excited at the possibility. After all, shaking things up is a good thing -- but it doesn't always mean it's going to be a good thing for the people doing the shaking.

In this particular case, though, I can't help but think it's actually really (really) bad for the company potentially leading the charge.

If you missed the reports, we should probably touch on that for just a moment. Even if you just need a refresher, let's dig in: Microsoft is reportedly considering allowing Android apps inside the Windows Phone Store. That's right. You'd be able to get your hands on the Android versions of apps, instead of having to use the Windows Phone-themed versions. If you don't like the Spotify app all that much, you could go with the Android variant instead, without having to switch to an Android-based device to get it done.

This isn't dual-booting an OS, which would hijack the total experience in major ways, from one mobile platform to another. No, you'd still be getting your Windows Phone fix (if you're into that sort of thing), while being able to download and use Android apps when you want.

As you can imagine, there's a lot of back-and-forth on the subject. According to the initial report, in fact, there's a lot of uneasy talk within Microsoft itself. Employees are going back-and-forth, with opinions ranging quite a bit. The same can be said for out here, too. Our own Anna Scantlin posited that the use of Android apps could make the platform better -- or that it might not.

It makes sense. Right now, with just a single report to go on, there's a lot of room to start some speculation, and to think of the worst situations possible. Honestly, someone would only have to point to BlackBerry's efforts with Android applications on another mobile platform and call it a day. That could very well be the basis for any kind of argument when it comes to Windows Phone using Android apps.

Is that good enough, though? Probably. In all honesty, I don't see much of a positive here with this particular piece of news. Quite the opposite, really. The idea that allowing Android apps on Windows Phone (and Windows itself) could kill the platform is a valid one. It very well could. Why? For starters, because it would mean developers would stop developing apps for Windows Phone specifically, or using any of the strengths the platform has to offer.

As an example: my first thought with this news was that I could replace the Windows Phone Spotify (or Rdio, or Facebook, or... et cetera...) with the Android one, and that right there outlines the biggest problem with this idea. Developers should want to make the best possible app for Windows Phone -- not simply shoehorn the Android version onto another mobile platform. Moreover, that's not what Microsoft should want developers to do, either. Microsoft still has a plan for its future in the cloud, as well as combining app stores/experiences across its lineup of devices. They need to stick with that, because it's a good plan.

This is one report that I hope doesn't come true, and that it's just a rumor boiled up from possibilities spit-balled inside the depths of Microsoft HQ. What do you think?