Nearly five years following its debut, the beleaguered Windows Phone still suffers from a lack of apps. Recent, high-profile additions like WatchESPN have mitigated things, but the truth remains that the offerings on the Android and iOS app stores positively dwarf Microsoft’s own. The App Store and Play Store respectively boast an app catalog north of 1 million, while the Windows Phone Store just last March reached 385,000. Microsoft is acutely aware of this fact, and in response is reportedly experimenting with Android app emulation within the upcoming Windows Phone 10.
According to Neowin, the scope of the emulation is quite wide. As the software currently stands, most Android apps are compatible, and some builds even sport a working Google Play Store client. Of course, questions about the legality of the emulation’s implementation and its potential effects on native Windows Phone development have kept the project from being green-lit thus far.
Technical concerns may also be playing a part. BlackBerry’s own Android emulation solution in the BlackBerry 10 operating system was plagued with limitations and performance issues, and required manually downloading and installing apps. It’s since been improved, but Microsoft would no doubt rather avoid the same user backlash its competitor endured.
On the other hand, Microsoft may do better to stay the course. The company is on the cusp of releasing Windows 10, and with it, refreshed development tools that may finally make creating and publishing multi-platform apps simpler. Separately, Microsoft’s aiming to address the issue of market share by producing a program that can easily convert Android devices to Windows Phones.
If successful, those efforts could give Windows Phone the boost it needs to compete with incumbents. Still, Microsoft will have to act quickly. While the company’s still committed to “the long game,” the Wall Street Journal reports, it’s already spent billions of dollars to prop up the Windows Phone ecosystem, and Microsoft has nothing but falling market share to show for it.