Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system has chased Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system for years. This week the company unveiled its boldest plan to snatch Apple and Google users away yet. Microsoft is bringing iPhone, iPad and Android apps to Windows 10 users.
Microsoft talked at detail about its plans for the Windows 10 operating system today during its BUILD 2015 developer event in San Francisco, California. It elaborated on those plans in a recent blog post too. Tucked into its announcements about its HoloLens wearable computer and discussions about Microsoft Office 2016 was a relatively short presentation on Windows 10 and its counterpart Windows 10 for Phones. It was in that presentation that Microsoft took its biggest swipes at the iPhone, iPad and Android.
When Windows 10 and Windows 10 for Phones launch Microsoft hopes to have a new crop of apps and services ready for shoppers. One of the ways it’s hoping to get there is by adding support for apps made with Objective C, Java and C++. Their names might not sound familiar, but almost everyone has interacted with these three languages in some way. Objective C is what’s used to make iPhone and iPad apps. Java is what Android apps are built with.
For years, Microsoft made the argument that developers didn’t have to work hard to bring their apps to Windows Phone, but that wasn’t entirely true. Developers did need to switch coding languages if they were coming from another platform. In addition to that developers needed to find a way to replace hooks and something called APIs that were only available in Android for example. Microsoft is eliminating most of the hassle by supporting Android and iOS’ coding languages. To take care of any additional roadblocks Microsoft has created replacement APIs for a large number of Android hooks that developers need. Windows 10 for Phones will include special software that allows it to run apps brought over from Android, according to today’s presentation.
In theory, apps should arrive on Windows notebooks, tablets, smartphones and desktops faster. Beyond that, they should be just as fully featured as they are on other platforms. On top of these switches Microsoft is making it easier for those developers to take advantage of core Windows functionality. These apps can connect to GPS, sensors, cameras and have their own Live Tiles. Microsoft is also adding support for web sites and web apps to the list of ways developers can make apps.
Earlier this year Microsoft revealed that it’d be merging Windows apps across its platforms. Today it showed off Windows apps running across smartphones, tablets, desktops and even the Xbox One. Having one app scale across multiple devices gives developers a key reason for bringing their apps to Windows even while Microsoft is making it easier to do so.
These changes in how apps can be moved to Windows Phone explains some extreme shifts in the way Windows apps look. Windows Phone and Windows apps had bottom-mounted menus with all their options and stark minimalist designs before Windows 10. All of Microsoft’s new apps for Windows 10 have menu buttons just like an app on the iPhone or Android would. Microsoft’s Edge web browser will even support extensions designed for Google’s Chrome operating system.
For Desktop users there’s good news too. Microsoft is reaching out to Windows Desktop users with crucial updates to the Windows Store. For Windows 10, Desktop apps will be directly available from the Windows Store. What’s more, any app available from the Windows Store will be contained and kept from adding unwanted stuff and making changes to PCs. Even for users who don’t like anything else they’ve seen about Windows 10, that’s a big deal. Downloading Desktop apps is one of the leading ways average users get malware and viruses on their PCs.