Microsoft can revive Windows phones by switching to Android

Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Former Managing Editor
13 Comments
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Microsoft’s phones have never been very popular among users. Actually, the company’s decision to acquire Nokia is one of the less inspired decisions it’s ever taken. As a result, Microsoft wisely let go of the Nokia brand this year and is now betting it all on the upcoming Surface Phone.

Let’s assume the Surface Phone becomes very popular and convinces users to give the Windows Mobile platform a second chance. While this smartphone packs impressive specs and features, not all users will afford to buy it. Of course, this won’t help Microsoft bite a bigger chunk off the phone market.

How about the previous Windows phone models? Could Microsoft make them more appealing to users? We believe the answer is yes. If Redmond becomes more flexible and installs Android on its phones, chances are more potential buyers will purchase them.

Of course, doing so means that Microsoft would give up on its ambition to deliver a unique OS and experience on all its platforms. After all, this is one of the main goals of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update OS. But according to NetMarketShare, Windows Phone has a 2.79% market share, while Android dominates the mobile market with a solid 66% market share.

Second, Android on Microsoft’s phones doesn’t look bad at all. A recent experiment performed by a hacker revealed what Android Marshmallow looks like on Lumia 525. Apart from the slow bootup sequence, which is normal, Android is pretty fluid on Lumia 525.

Third, thanks to the Secure Boot leak, it’s only a matter of time until tech savvy users will be able to install Android themselves. Microsoft is trying hard to patch this vulnerability, but hackers say the tech company can’t revoke the leaked Secure Boot policies. It seems that Pandora’s box has been opened for Microsoft.

Fourth, others do it. Take a look at RIM, a company that has been struggling for years to survive on the market. RIM launched its first Android phone last year, the BB Priv — even if it hasn’t been very successful.

Fifth, by installing Android on its phones, Microsoft solves the app barrier problem. Users will be able to download any app they wish and this also means that developers will have it easier.

What do you think about this thought experiment? Is it possible that Microsoft will ever install Android on its phones? Would you buy such a phone?

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  • Now by installing Android on a “windows” phone in which way would it still be a “windows” phone? What should I then call it? Do you know what a windows phone is? FYI it’s a mobile device with the Windows OS running on it hence the name windows phone. If I wanted an Android device why would I buy one that MS put Android on instead of going for any tried and true Android device already in circulation.

  • What a stupid article! And RIM has become BlackBerry long time ago! Looks like Article has written based on information from rumors rather then actual Market analysis.

  • I see this ridiculous proposal at least once a month. There is absolutely no point in MS releasing phone hardware running Android. You can start with the undeniable fact that no-one is making money off of Android except Samsung. Why would MS be any different. The most obvious reason though is MS isn’t selling phones to make a killing on the hardware, it is to promote Windows 10 Mobile and MS services. No way slapping Android on a phone supports the former objective, and the second is already served by an all the available Android devices out there, without MS adding another money pit to the mix. MS making deals with other Android makers to get their apps pre-loaded is the answer to that desire, and they are doing just that. MS phones will have a MS OS on them, or MS just won’t make phones. They will continue to make a mobile OS of course.

  • First thing first, Android might be the market leader, but it still is not as stable as Windows or iOS. Second, unlike Apple, Microsoft do not have to depend on phone sales to survive, they have 100 more things to bank on. Lastly, as Apple makes OS to support their hardware, Microsoft simply produce hardware to promote their OS. All they need to do, is to get on board their trusted partners Dell, HP, Lenovo to switch to Windows phone and it will back in business

  • Lets look at each of these points:

    1. Market share I will come back to with point four but as far as I am concerned if Microsoft put Android on Windows 10 Mobile phones, yes the Windows PHONE name died out with Windows Phone 8.1, it would be a disaster as the market is already flooded with handsets.

    2. Who cares, the fact is that Android tends to be slow, period. No matter how much processing power or RAM you throw at it, if Microsoft allowed Android onto ALL Windows based Phones do you really think the performance will be consistent even on 512MB devices. W10M however, runs just fine on 512MB devices even though they could only upgrade via the preview program and will only stay on Threshold.

    3. Only for hackers and geeks, the average user won’t care unless it’s exploited by malware.

    4. Yes, lets take a look at Blackberry, you do know that they renamed themselves a while ago now. Here is a company that had a unique OS in BB10, something they could have allowed to mature and gain market share but instead chose the easy way out with Android. As I mentioned before, switching to Android would be a disaster for Microsoft as they may hold less than 10% of the market at this point but I seriously doubt it would stay that way if they switched to Android. They would end up in the same position as Blackberry, market share that is almost non existent simply because they would be entering a crowded marketplace.

    5. Nope, still wouldn’t solve the fabled “app gap” as there are still a lot of apps that are ONLY available on iOS with no sign of them coming to other platforms.

  • Absolutely true, switching to Android would breathe another life in millions of devices.. But Micro$oft would never do that.. They prefer all these phones to be in a dumpster rather than give Android another bunch of users…

    That’s why I laughed so hard when Micro$oft announced that they “Love Linux”.. they failed to mention that this love only is valid when it generates money..

  • Original Windows Mobile was actually pretty darn good. Microsoft just didn’t prepare properly, for the future. Had they taken a risk on putting more money into R&D for Windows Mobile, Windows Phone never would have existed, which I personally believe was the downfall for them. The only thing that was ever lacking on Windows Mobile (pre-Android uptick and iPhone boom), was the ability to customize and load programs via a centralized location (e.g. app store).

    • I would have to disagree with the customizations… Windows Mobile (if you are referring to 6.5.3 and below), were customized so heavily, between downloading and trying out new skins, and the XDA dev community has a plethora of icons and registry edits (plus tips/tricks) to really make your device your own.

      As far as a central location, yeah i agree 100%. The Windows Mobile Marketplace was a joke at best, and so rushed as both an app and a service. They could have taken and indexed every app made for WM 6.5, and had either available links to download, or told the developers they would put their app in the Windows Marketplace Store and flesh out the app selection. The mentality of “Build it they will come” doesn’t work for them anymore. They need to be proactive in gaining marketshare and mindshare. This means actually advertising the heck out of their services, and making them hip and attractive.

      • That’s why I mentioned this part of my statement…”via a centralized location (e.g. app store).” While I, being tech savvy enough, had no problem customizing my Windows Mobile devices, it just wasn’t as “simple” to do customizations for the general public and Android was able to do that. So, I’m really looking at it from a general consumer standpoint vs. anybody that is tech savvy enough to find the proper resources.

  • Never been popular? they were the top smartphone platforms for years. They even coined the term smartphone.

    I’m a huge fan of windows phone and would love to have it on my android hardware. What I’m not a fan of is windows 10 mobile which has dismantled nearly everything that set windows phone apart rather than building on that and in the process turning it into a buggy, androidish mess.