Microsoft also announced plans to acquire Xamarin, a platform provider that allows native app development for Android, iOS, and Windows in C#.
As Kevin Gallo on the Windows Blog said, "We also announced the Windows Bridge for Android (project 'Astoria') at Build last year, and some of you have asked about its status. We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing. We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs."
So, Microsoft seems to be reversing its strategy from last April. Rather than using Project Astoria to get Android apps onto the Windows Store, they look to be attempting to drum up interest by putting their own apps on the Google Play Store or making them available in other ways. Here are a few:
- Office Lens: turns your camera into a document scanner
- Cortana: Microsoft's voice assistant
- Hyperlapse: create or edit time-lapse videos
- Office Suite: the Microsoft Office desktops apps on mobile
- Connections: Microsoft's contacts app for Android with reminder features
- Mimicker Alarm: alarm clock app that makes oversleeping difficult
- SwiftKey: long-time Android and iOS keyboard app that was acquired by Microsoft
Or, it could be as easy as wanting to make some more money. Xamarin already has more than 15,000 customers, and that number is sure to rise with Microsoft's backing. Plus, the ability to easily design apps across all three platforms is surely alluring—why bother settling for one to begin with, when you can have all three? Even small developers can use Xamarin's "Indie" Package for only $25 per month.
We'll have to wait and see if this latest attempt at building a Universal Windows Platform will pay off for Windows. It could be the jolt the company needs to get more potential customers sold on a Windows Phone (they're lagging pretty far behind right now). Even if it doesn't play out that way, they'll be making money if they can convince developers to use Xamarin's platform to create new apps, though, for now it seems as if their focus has shifted to iOS apps.