Jeremy’s article last week really got me thinking about how Microsoft can fix their “App Gap”. In my opinion, there are two solutions.
First, the Microsoft is building a universal app platform with their release of Windows 10. That means a developer can build one app that will run on traditional Windows 10 Desktops and Laptops, would also work in the mobile space of tablets and phones, and then the living room with the Xbox One. That platform has to be done right. I can’t stress enough that if Microsoft screws up this generation of software, there likely won’t be a Windows Mobile 11. Microsoft has positive momentum with Windows 10 and Xbox One and they needs to leverage that. Having a solid app store for the Xbox One would drive developer interest in living room applications and bring more developers into the Microsoft ecosystem. Most importantly though, developers need to have zero friction porting their apps from Xbox over to Windows 10 and Windows Mobile 10. Microsoft promises this, but they need to deliver if they hope for this generation to be better than the last.
The second way Microsoft can fix their app gap is by taking advantage of the open source nature of Android. Open source means the code that lies beneath the Android Operating System is freely available to anyone who wants to use it. This means Microsoft could grab the code and do whatever they want with it like build an app emulator for Windows Mobile. This approach means developers don’t have to do anything extra in order to have their applications run on Windows. The big problem with this approach however is the fact that Google’s Play Store is not open source and Microsoft can’t put that onto their devices without talking to Google first. Google may not take too kindly to Microsoft bastardizing their Android code, they may see emulation as a “security threat”, or may request Microsoft to make Google Play apps like Docs or Sheets to be default applications. All things that would kill the deal and Microsoft can do practically nothing about. The emulator solution isn’t perfect, there would be a lot of extraneous things to work out, but if figured out it could be a good temporary solution while the Windows Store gets off the ground.
Either way, if apps like Snapchat or Clash of Clans are missing from Windows Mobile and Microsoft can’t get that problem fixed in 2015, Windows Mobile may be in trouble.