Microsoft could be scrapping Windows 10 Android app emulation

When Microsoft announced Windows 10 Mobile, it also promised that developers could painlessly port over their iOS and Android apps to its operating system. However, it turns out that Microsoft’s Project Astoria, as the software bridge was known, may never come to pass.

Microsoft could be scrapping Windows 10 Android app emulation

According to Windows Central, multiple sources have claimed that Microsoft is no longer openly talking about, or privately discussing, Project Astoria with developers. While the project isn’t publicly, or privately, cancelled, “the Android app porting is not going as planned”.

The scrapping of Project Astoria leaves Microsoft in a tough situation. So far, the message around Windows 10 has been largely positive, but with Windows 10 Mobile still unavailable, and having made a rather public promise of Android APK support, Microsoft risks damaging its newly revamped image.

Astoria’s demise can be attributed to a handful of reasons, but chiefly the project’s actual viability. According to Windows Central’s sources, the Astoria team was 60-80 employees strong. Compared to the five employee-strong Project Islandwood team (another software bridge for iOS applications), Astoria just wasn’t financially sensible. Also, as Astoria was just simply Android APK emulation, perhaps the legal ramifications of running Android apps on Windows 10 were too high.

Another theory is that trying to emulate the Android subsystem on Windows 10 Mobile led to an unstable and sluggish experience, something Microsoft really doesn’t want users to encounter on launch. The latest preview build of Windows 10 Mobile has had all mention of Android stripped out, indicating that this could be a key reason for Microsoft’s backtracking.

Microsoft also had quite a hard time convincing developers of Astoria’s worth. Unlike Islandwood, where ported iOS apps only need a bit of tweaking to become native Windows 10 apps, Astoria could run Android APKs with no modifications.

While that’s handy for speedily launching on Windows 10, any developers looking to take Microsoft’s platform seriously wouldn’t utilise it. It would also leave many of Android’s vulnerabilities open, requiring a separate regulated store to keep tabs on apps being uploaded – something that doesn’t even occur on the current Windows App Store.

So, while Astoria isn’t officially cancelled, those hoping to run Android apps on their Windows 10 smartphone shouldn’t expect the functionality any time soon.

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