There’s been a fair amount of debate recently about whether running Android apps on Windows machines is good or bad for Microsoft. Quite a few pundits maintain that it’s a bad thing, at least some saying that the availability of Android apps reduces the incentives for Windows developers to make quality modern UI apps for Windows 8.1. The majority seem to propose that at best it doesn’t help Microsoft.
The most noise was generated when Intel announced its dual-boot solution at this year’s CES, but this isn’t a new concept. BlueStacks has offered a virtualized Android environment for some time now, as have others, and ASUS has even shipped a machine that’s an Android-Windows hybrid (the Transformer Book Trio, if you want to buy one from Amazon and toss a few bucks in the tip jar) and announced a new dual-boot machine (the Transformer Book Duet).
Personally, and I’ve mentioned this before, I think that the ability to run Android apps on Windows machines, particularly tablets, is a a real boon for Microsoft. Android apps can simply help bridge the gap while the Windows 8.1 app store continues to build out. The consumer who’s concerned about running his favorite app can take some comfort that it’s available on a Windows machine, while still waiting for the day that a quality modern UI app shows up for Windows 8.1
Then again, I’m in the apparent minority who believes that Microsoft is making some good moves, even with Windows 8.1 (which many pundits consider a general failure), and that we’ll see an increase in the sale of Windows tablets and hybrids even as we see a decrease in the sale of traditional Windows notebooks and desktop machines. And so, perhaps my perspective is a little skewed.
Of course, it all comes down to Microsoft’s marketing savvy. Their recent “one experience” ads are good examples of effectively communicating what I think is a very real fact: Windows 8.1 tablets/hybrids are strongly productive devices that can also be used for media consumption and gaming. The inverse can’t be said as strongly for iOS and Android. As Microsoft narrows the gap between Windows 8.1, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and the Xbox platform, they create a powerful value proposition that I don’t think Apple or Google can match.
I’ve used iOS, Android, and Windows 8.1 enough to recognize the advantages and disadvantages of each. I’ll be posting my thoughts on that soon. In the meantime, I stick with my proposition that Microsoft could gain some real traction against iOS and Android tablets, but only if they can convince consumers that having access to a “real” operating system and fully functional apps like Office, Adoble’s Creative suite, and many, many others is a real value.
And that means showing the deficiencies that exist in iOS and Android in terms of getting real work done. Can Microsoft get the point across? We’ll see…