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.)