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Operating Systems Handhelds Microsoft

With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android 241

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-sure-this-is-a-shortcut? dept.
colinneagle writes "Amid all the talk about Microsoft forking Android for a smartphone OS, one suggestion involves a look back to Microsoft's DOS days. Microsoft DOS was designed per IBM's specification to run exclusively on IBM's PC hardware platforms. Phoenix Technologies employed software developers it nicknamed 'virgins,' who hadn't been exposed to IBM's systems, to create a software layer between Microsoft's DOS system and PCs built by IBM's competitors. This helped Microsoft avoid infringing on IBM's patents or copyrights, and subsequently helped fuel the explosive growth of PC clones. Microsoft could use the same approach to 'clone' the proprietary Android components in its own Android fork. This would prevent copyright infringement while giving Microsoft access to Google Play apps, as well as Android's massive base of developers." Microsoft (or anyone) could generate a lot of goodwill by completely replacing the proprietary bits of Android; good thing that doing so is a work in progress (and open-source, too), thanks to Replicant. (Practically speaking, though, couldn't Google just make access to the Play Store harder, if Microsoft were to create an Android-alike OS? Even now, many devices running Android variants don't have access to it.)
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With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android

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  • Amazon (Score:2, Interesting)

    by arbiterxero (952505) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:12AM (#46294669)

    The reality is that this is an opportunity for Amazon.....

    Amazon has an app store, they could have the ability to sell Blackberry, IOS, Android apps all from the vendors so that when you buy an app it's device agnostic.

    Then the app-stores that are phone specific now become ONE app store that allows you to take your apps with you. One App store that you can pick which version/compatibility to install.

    Amazon just needs to be able to import your Play Store Sales, and Apple Sales so that you can get those apps from them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:15AM (#46294691)

    The problem is actually not that Microsoft can fork it. After all Microsoft using free software is a good thing. The bad thing is however that Google made a crucial mistake when they created Android. By using a non-copyleft license they have made it possible for Microsoft to not only fork it but also making it non-free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:26AM (#46294779)

    That was actually the intention with a non-copyleft license.

    Get with the program, no one likes copyleft

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:48AM (#46294987) Journal

    No it is open like MacOSX is open.

    Google has things locked very tight on Android [arstechnica.com] which will make compatibility difficult and a constantly changing targeting if MS were dumb enough to make an Android fork.

    Windows Phone would turn into a mobile version of OS/2 which is used by few and developers say "Oh it runs Android. Lets just target that only and ignore MS we will get both platforms etc", but in reality Google changes AOSP apis and viola it breaks on Windows Phone.

    Windows Phone is not a bad OS even if it is spouted here as the anti Christ from people who actually never ran it. If it were not made by Microsoft I think people would like it here seriously.

  • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:10AM (#46295173)

    From the article

    . However, Google’s verification is not needed for an individual consumer to download and install a Google-signed version of the Google Play app store and then download the full inventory of Google proprietary apps to an unverified Android version.

    That's quite wrong. The Play app is copyrighted, proprietary and is tightly coupled to Google's cloud. They even sent a Cease and Desist to CyanogenMod a few years ago and stopped them from distributing it. They don't go after individual users, but those users are still infringing Google's copyright and are essentially pirating the software. So this advice is like suggesting that Ubuntu make VM software that makes it really easy to pirate Windows to run Windows apps since MS does not go after individual personal home users for pirating their software.

    Not to mention that even if all this manages to happen, Google can just tweak their servers and store app to reject connections from Android forks(see iTunes).

    If you want read a better article about why forking Android does not make any sense, this article is way better:
    http://arstechnica.com/informa... [arstechnica.com]

    Even if MS wants to do something like that, it makes a bit more sense to make Windows Phone able to load Android Apps, which they were/are supposedly exploring.

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/2... [theverge.com]

  • Re:Why would they? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:47AM (#46295545) Homepage

    Because the days of a phone as a single-purpose device are long over. Modern phones are miniature computers and - like all computers - it is the software they run which is the most important part. No matter how good the hardware or underlying operating system may be, if it doesn't have applications to run on it, that computer is not going to end up being used. And Android phones have the apps, while Windows phones do not.

    Sure, there are a small selection of apps for Windows phones, but it is nothing in comparison to what you can get on an Android (or an Apple IOS device). Apps come out first on Android and IOS, with ports to Windows Phone a secondary consideration (if they are ported at all). And there are no must-have applications only available on Windows Phone. Without the apps, they can't attract users, and without the users they cannot attract developers.

    Forking Android is one potential method of getting those users. Once they have gained (embraced) a significant market-share, then Microsoft could follow up with their usual "extend, extinguish" methodology to control that market (love it or hate it, that policy works for them).

    Of course, forking Android is unlikely to be a successful strategy. Increasing amounts of the Android API are being moved into Google's proprietary services and many applications are becoming more dependent on the functionality of those APIs. Forking Android would require Microsoft to create an incompatible replacement for those APIs or try to create a clean-room version of the GMS that maintains full compatibility. With the former, they have just traded a Windows kernel for a Linux kernel without gaining users because they still won't have compatibility with most apps. With the latter, Microsoft cedes control of the the platform to Google and will constantly be playing catch up to any changes the search-giant makes.

    Their best bet - but the one they have been unable to achieve despite over a decade of trying - is to create a must-have feature that can only be had on Windows Phones (for instance, imagine a successor to Facebook and the only phone that you can access it from is a WinPhone). Microsoft was hoping that Exchange/ActiveDirectory integration might be this feature, but - because that was largely only of interests to large businesses - it failed to capture the market. But if they can find something that excites the market and only they offer - then they can succeed.

    So even were Windows Phone OS the best and most advanced phone OS around, it doesn't matter a jot. It's always been the applications that have driven users to a platform, and right now Microsoft doesn't have those. And that is why people are throwing around ideas like forking Android.

  • by UpnAtom (551727) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:19PM (#46295859) Homepage

    And the second biggest is that everyone knows Microsoft makes it.

    People want phones that are chic. Microsoft are about as chic as homophobia. Looks, both of the phone and of the UI, are even more important.

    Apparent price/performance is another factor. Probably the main reason Android is doing so well is because those phones look good value in comparison to Apple (not hard with their 200% markup). The fact that interpreted Android apps make those quad cores as slow as dual cores doesn't come into the equation.

    Lastly, some people really believe they need 100,000 apps.

  • by Yunzil (181064) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:45PM (#46296155) Homepage

    Copying others isn't a long -term business plan

    Linux has been doing it for decades now.

    they need to kill Metro

    Why? Metro actually works fine on a small touch screen. Killing it would be retarded.

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