Edge for iOS and Android
Microsoft has just announced Edge for iOS and Android. The new apps are going to allow end users to share specific Edge data from Windows – like favorites and the reading list, which were indeed highly needed – between PC and the mobile OS of user’s choice.
However, as Venture Beat reports, the new Edge apps will internally use the HTML renderers of the mobile OSes’ cores – Blink/Chromium on Android, and WebKit/WKWebView on iOS – as I assume Microsoft‘s EdgeHTML is not allowed and/or not technically feasible on non-Windows devices.
Microsoft says it’s better this way due to the better integration with the underlying OSes, but to me, this clearly means that now they consider Windows and its components less important for their overall future business, and instead they focus more on services, i.e. allowing other OSes (previously known as competition) to become the “homes” of their customers and just providing high level software there too, while PCs and Windows can remain available for just as much time the users would want them, while in the meantime they will continue to serve as ramp up for the “real” Microsoft‘s services too.
In other words, I think that now Microsoft lets end users to choose both their hardware and – unthinkable a few years ago – the OSes of their devices, just to get them using Microsoft‘s apps and services, like it’s the case of Edge favorites now, but – more importantly, and for some time already – the paid Office 365 subscriptions too.
(Even for developers, now Microsoft has tools that allow building on and for all other major platforms out there, including macOS on client side and Linux on server side, besides the mobile targets! Xamarin and .NET Core advancements prove it 100%.)
Microsoft Launcher for Android
Back to the original announcement, let’s go one step further: Microsoft will also offer an improved Android launcher, which tries to integrate their high level software and services a little deeper into the Android host, but at the lowest possible level without breaking compatibility, considering that they target the very large number of Android devices that already exist worldwide.
Apple doesn’t allow anything like that on iOS; this is why they target only Android devices with this deeper integration, but rules are rules and developers – including Microsoft here – go how and where they can. Android is more open, thus the direction.
These above being said and acknowledged, i.e. learning that Microsoft loves – to be read “was forced by market to love” – open source, Linux and Android, I’d say that they can go even further and in few steps get back relevant in the mobile business (!), where they could really use some market share nowadays as holographic devices are not yet good enough for the public and present high adoption risks anyway. Here we go:
Disregarding the recent articles that indicate a possible dismiss of the Microsoft hardware team due to not selling enough Surface devices – or better said, the plausibility of this option – they could still develop a nice Surface Phone that would run a special – “Windroid“? – OS that could run Android apps and would allow the end users to connect to Google Play store – and/or a modified Microsoft Store (previously known as Windows Store – is this rename a sign?) – to download and purchase Android apps that they need, just like it’s possible with Amazon‘s Android Appstore on Kindle Fire devices.
Such “Windroid” OS could be developed – although probably it’s going to be a highly complex task – I guess:
- Merge/refactor the closed Windows OS core source code (and open it) with/as a supportable Linux kernel, and then
- use Android open source project, modified to have Windows-like UI and optionally also to support the Microsoft Android Store, on top of the core, being therefore able to run all the Android apps that users will need, possibly obtained from Microsoft if developers publish their work there too!
Of course, I haven’t done deep analysis on this, so I need a disclaimer here: it’s just an idea, nothing else. It’s highly possible that Microsoft already checked it or even tried it and maybe there are technical or legal impediments going on this route. But I couldn’t help sharing, once I thought of it. (Who knows, maybe when you’ll say Android in a few years, you won’t necessarily think about Google.)