Once upon a time, Windows was the operating system that ran the world, with Mac OS a distant second and Linux holding an invisible world of networks and servers. Today, however, not only have Linux and macOS risen up the ranks, there is also Android, iOS, iPadOS, and even Chrome OS to contend with. Rather than completely conceding defeat, Microsoft is instead embracing some of these rival platforms, with rumors of a deeper integration with Android that would let its mobile apps run directly on Windows 10 by 2021 at the earliest.
It is, of course, already possible to run Android apps on Windows. There are emulators and tools like Bluestack that have focused more on games as well as Microsoft’s own Your Phone utility that can run apps from a compatible Samsung Galaxy phone as if they were native. Based on Windows Central’s brief blurb, Microsoft may be aiming for something even more seamless that would let users install Android apps from its Microsoft Store.
To some extent, this would mirror Chrome OS’s own ability to run Android apps somewhat natively, which requires supporting the Android runtime itself on Windows. Given Android’s open nature and Microsoft’s own expertise, not to mention its work with the Windows Subsystem for Linux, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Running Android apps natively, however, is just one part of the equation and Microsoft will have to do a lot more work to make it a convincing and attractive feature.
The biggest question mark will be Google Play support, something that Google will probably be not so keen on allowing. Without Google Play Store and services, Microsoft will either have to follow Huawei or, at least, set up its own app store ala Samsung. Neither, however, would be an ideal situation.
The report also has some news for Windows 10X which might end up DOA by the time it launches in Spring 2021. Not only will this “lightweight” edition of Windows 10 run only on traditional laptops and tablets, it won’t be getting support for win32 applications until 2022. Microsoft will allegedly rely more on “Cloud PC” app streaming and perhaps support for Android apps to make do until then.