Windroid: What if Microsoft forked Android? Venturbeat:
Windroid could still support Windows Phone apps in parallel, enabling Microsoft to piggyback the Android app ecosystem while building out its own.
A Windroid phone could have exclusive (or, at least the best) integration of Word, Excel, Powerpoint for productivity, Skype for communications, Xbox for entertainment, Nook for reading, Bing for search and navigation, IE for browsing, and so forth. Microsoft is the one company that can replace nearly all of Google’s services one-for-one with a compelling alternative.
Fascinating idea. It is true that Microsoft is one of very few companies which could indeed offer alternatives to Googles services that hardware vendors are so dependent on.
But I don’t believe this will ever happen.
First: This is not in Microsofts company culture. Microsoft is (deservedly or not) too proud to even consider this. They build their own OS from start to end, end of story. No matter wether it actually still makes sense or not.
Secondly: This step would not necessarily lead to those obvious looking consequences as laid out in the article. In fact, have a look at what multihoming did to IBMs OS/2 as it was going with this very strategy. Ars Technica on OS/2:
OS/2’s DOS box was so good that you could run an entire copy of Windows inside it, and thanks to IBM’s separation agreement with Microsoft, each copy of OS/2 came bundled with something IBM called “Win-OS2.” It was essentially a free copy of Windows that ran either full-screen or windowed. If you had enough RAM, you could run each Windows app in a completely separate virtual machine running its own copy of Windows, so a single app crash wouldn’t take down any of the others.
This was a really cool feature, but it made it simple for GUI application developers to decide which operating system to support. OS/2 ran Windows apps really well out of the box, so they could just write a Windows app and both platforms would be able to run that app.
Given the reach on each platform the decision from a developers perspective was easy to make.
Now look at the scale of Android and compare it to that of Windows Phone. The differences in installed base are not that far off from Windows versus OS/2 back in the mid-nineties.
If Microsoft would go the multihoming route it would just serve the Android ecosystem. Piggybacking and enforcing its own ecosystem would not work this way.