back to article Microsoft scraps Android Windows 10 bridge, but says yes to Objective-C compiler

Microsoft has officially scrapped its Android to Windows 10 bridge, codenamed Astoria, but is forging ahead with its Objective C Windows compiler and tools for porting iOS applications. The Android announcement was expected, as the project was apparently abandoned some months back, but the new post from Windows Developer …

Their heel

It must be mounted on a swivel. It turns more often than the wind blows.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Their heel

It became pretty flexible back when it was always on someone's neck.

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Tools for porting IOS applications?

Does anyone other than MS want this?

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Re: Tools for porting IOS applications?

I suppose the idea is that iDevice devolopers port iOS business apps to Windows 10 Mobile and obtain ubtold riches from the Windows Store...

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Re: Tools for porting IOS applications?

"Does anyone other than MS want this?"

Absolutely yes, though not because I'm a iOS or MS proponent.

I want it because with any luck it will help break down the crazy barriers that exist in the software world and start getting rid of walled gardens.

Software source code portability can be a tremendous boon (take a look at Linux for example) - why shouldn't mobile and other platforms benefit too?

Especially in the mobile space the major players have been allowed to construct their un-portable ecosystems and they've gone out of their way to make it very hard for anyone to have a common source code base for the applications they're writing. If someone, even MS, starts making it less important what ecosystem (iOS, Android, etc) one chooses to write for, that can be only a good thing.

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Re: Tools for porting IOS applications?

But, as far as I can tell (I own no apple products but I have been shown lots of innovative Apple stuff that I have had for years) people run apple software because it runs on apple products so making it run on MS is not going to be too popular. As for developers I can imagine MS giving them too good a deal.

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Objective C ??

I thought Apple were already phasing that out in favour of Swift?

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FAIL

Re: Objective C ??

I was about to say this too. Certainly for app development on iOS, Swift is the preferred language. It is being pitched as being easier to learn and understand than Objective-C. Why isn't MS concentrating on Swift? Objective-C bridge looks like legacy code support to me and iOS apps don't tend to have a long shelf life before they are replaced by the next better, newer one with more features.

As an aside, if you look for any training or tutorials for Swift it is 99% iOS development. Bit of a pain if your trying to learn to write Swift programs for OS X.

Andy

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Re: Objective C ??

That's MS for you. always on top of technology.

It would be ironic if apple set a deadline where the stop accepting new apps into the AppStore unless they are written in Swift. I can't imagine them stopping support for Objective C anytime soon but it probably will happen at some time.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andy E - Re: Objective C ??

Objective-C bridge looks like legacy code support to me and iOS apps don't tend to have a long shelf life before they are replaced by the next better, newer one with more features.

That suggests that Microsoft consider Windows 10 to be only good enough to run iOS hand-me-downs.

Seems about right.

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Re: Objective C ??

>Why isn't MS concentrating on Swift?<

Probably because APPL's 'open sourcing' of Swift is highly ambiguous, allowing their lawyers to harass MSFT via the courts for violation of IP/patents/API copyright etc.

Let's be realistic, APPL's business model is a proprietary eco-system to lock-in devs and punters.

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Another attempt to break out of the vicious circle

WP app portfolio does not grow because the platform is not popular. WP is not popular, among other reasons, because is small app portfolio.

The irony here is double: with OS/2, Microsoft gave a master lesson on how to sink an OS based on its lack of applications. And with iOS, Apple gave a master lesson on creating a device that everyone craves to have overcomes any issues with the platform cost of application development.

Microsoft has neither a HW offering with the magic attractiveness that iThings had at the time, nor an OS with a dominant position (like Windows on the desktop) to leverage its developer base. Hence all these attempts to lure iOS/Android developers into the WP realm.

Past history seems to point that, unless there's some magic new approach, there is no way of getting WP's share above single digits.

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Holmes

Re: Another attempt to break out of the vicious circle

Past history is useful. Microsoft has carved one niche in the market, with the Surface machines, where it's doing far better than expected. That may have been what sunk the mobiles part of Microsoft. Throw more money at Surface where there is better ROI. I rather expect that the whole perceived (real or not) ROI from porting from iOS to Windows 10 over the same anticipation with Android on Windows 10 is what's going on here. Do remember that the lion's share of revenue earned by apps on Android is from ads and in-app purchases (almost entirely games either way). iOS apps are different in that people actually are willing to pay for them.

Therein lies the rub. Anticipated revenue. Also even Microsoft has to admit that Google has the whole ad market pretty much sewn up. So Google would be the prime beneficiary of Android apps running on Windows 10 unless the devs rearrange their revenue models. Something that I don't even believe that Microsoft would be delusional enough to expect. Bing? What's a Bing. [The search engine that can't even find anything on the owner's sites. I use DDG or Google for that.]

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Boffin

Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

El Reg quickly glosses over that Islandwood generates Universal Windows Apps that can run on Windows 10 mobile, Windows 10 and, shortly, Xbox.

Unless, like the Snapshat CEO, you're a fanboi with a pathological hatred of MSFT, spending a weekend fettling your iOS app to make it available to a potential customer base that'll be hitting a billion in short order seems a no brainer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

Doesn't the use of the (abusive?) term "fanboi" indicate a comment from the USA?

And may that (abusive and from USA) not mean a Microsoft shareholder or employee?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

Who are these 250 million potential buyers?

Windows Mobile? I don't think so.

Windows 10 PCs with touch - decent proportion; though many will be corporate machines so not app buyers.

Windows 10 PCs upgraded from Windows 7/8 but without touch (my guess around 80% of the 250 million) - not an addressable market for "easy ports" of iOS apps.

So at a guess the addressable market is around 25 million.

On the other hand the PC has reverted to being a tool for work, so I think psychologically people will tend to make more deliberate, long-term purchases of PC software (accounts packages, productivity - all the usual stuff) while discretionary purchases of functionally limited apps will remain in the "pretty, fun" world of the iThings.

As a final comment, this push for porting of iOS apps is not helped by the fact that almost all PCs still have slot-like 16:9 display aspect ratios.

[Edit: FWIW, my work laptop is a W10 machine with 4K touch screen - but in practice that's more like a "prod" screen as it's hard to make precise touches with an outstretched arm - so I for one wouldn't be buying apps or bugging the boss to do so.]

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Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

Quote

customer base that'll be hitting a billion in short order seems a no brainer.

A billion Windows 10 Users? Let's rephrase that

A billion legal Windows 10 users?

IMHO, that won't happen in 'short order'. Windows 10 devices are in the main sitting on the shelves gathering dust.

MS Stores in the USA are more like Ghost towns.

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Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

"Doesn't the use of the (abusive?) term "fanboi" indicate a comment from the USA?"

Nope. I'm UK born and bred and I find myself using it quite a lot about pro [insert non MS OS of choice] zealots on here who are too stupid to get past the notion that NO OS is perfect; and that - warts an' all - what MS does suits many of us (who don''t want their OS to be a hobby in its own right) pretty well.

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Holmes

Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

**...Doesn't ... "fanboi" indicate a comment from the USA?... And may that ... not mean a Microsoft shareholder or employee?..."*

Wow! —great narrowing down of the potential suspects there. Ever thought of joining the CID?

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Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

"almost all PCs still have slot-like 16:9 display aspect ratios"

So, you assume that everyone else ought to have your preferred aspect ratio? Why do we keep getting this stupid pattern of "I prefer/need $OPTION so everyone else ought to have it too"?

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FAIL

Re: Who wouldn't want 250,000,000 potential new buyers?

Lol, someone fell for that billion spin.

Potential billion != billion

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Microsoft Still Clueless on Mobs

Microsoft no longer positions Windows 10 Mobile as a mass-market challenger to Android or iOS, but instead is pushing the platform for business devices.

They just don't get it, do they? Corporations buy less and less mobiles for their employees. Why spend on hardware when your employees will spend it for you? It's a BYOD world and those devices are Android and IOS. End of story. Only the die hard fanboys or people who get them for free use WP.

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Re: Microsoft Still Clueless on Mobs

>Only the die hard fanboys or people who get them for free use WP.

A friend sent me a WP, I was about to through it in the bin, when a mate who uses Nokia dumbphones accepted to take the piece of shit, apparently, you can call people with it ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft Still Clueless on Mobs

"...through it in the bin..."

Windows Phones have excellent context-sensitive spell checkers.

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Re: Microsoft Still Clueless on Mobs

Corporations buy less and less mobiles for their employees. Why spend on hardware when your employees will spend it for you? It's a BYOD world and those devices are Android and IOS. End of story. Only the die hard fanboys or people who get them for free use WP.

Actually, if you look at the new Lumia 650, which can be had for £160, you can see how MS's plan might just pan out. It's a rather good phone for the price and Windows 10 runs splendidly on it. (I got myself one out of curiosity.) You switch it on, log in with your Microsoft or -- and here's the important thing -- company Office 365/Exchange account, and the company can gain full control over your device: which apps will be installed, what your unlock pin should look like and how long, whether or not encryption is required etc etc. Add to that the fact that the phone will immediately start syncing your email account, calendar etc, and you're ready to go in no time. Any sensible IT department would *much* prefer that kind of control, as opposed to having to cater for all sorts of BYOD from different eco-systems with half-hearted support even for Exchange email accounts. And at that price point, that's almost a no brainer. At least for serious MS-based corporations (and the vast majority of them are indeed MS-based)

(Disclaimer: If you read previous comments from me, you know that I have no bias towards Microsoft -- quite the opposite.)

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Re: Microsoft Still Clueless on Mobs

> company Office 365/Exchange account

Which is also easily obtainable on iOS and Android (to be fair, with Android you have to use an add-on client whereas iOS has native support).

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Pint

"2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

Was they?

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Re: "2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

There's nothing wrong with the original statement

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Re: "2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

" "2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

Was they?"

Replace "2 bridges..." with "The idea...".

Now do you understand?

Don't be a Grammar Nazi if you don't understand grammar - there's a good lad...

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Pint

Re: "2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

As written, it's clearly a plural ("2 bridges") followed by a 'was'.

It could have been written "Having two bridges was unnecessary"; but it was truncated into incorrectness.

"The idea" (offered as a counter-example) is singular. Thus perfectly non-applicable.

Anyway, by Godwin's Law, I win this debate anyway.

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Re: "2 bridges was 'unnecessary' says dev platform VP"

"As written, it's clearly a plural ("2 bridges") followed by a 'was'. It could have been written "Having two bridges was unnecessary"; but it was truncated into incorrectness. "The idea" (offered as a counter-example) is singular. Thus perfectly non-applicable"

The very nature of the article is that of the two approaches only one is really necessary. Therefore in the sentence "two bridges was unnecessary", we know that it's referring to the "idea" of two bridges, therefore it's singular. If the sentence had been "2 bridges were unnecessary", it would have implied that both bridges were unnecessary, and perhaps that there were actually more than two bridges.

Compare these two sentences:

"It was not necessary to have two bridges"

"Two bridges was not necessary"

If you think the second sentence ought to be "were", then reconsider when you see these two sentences, because that's effectively what you're saying:

"Two bridges were not necessary"

"It were not necessary to have two bridges"

In short, "two bridges was not necessary" is correct.

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"Microsoft no longer positions Windows 10 Mobile as a mass-market challenger to Android or iOS"

Really? I must have missed that announcement. Can you provide a quote or link to it?

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Could it be that the market has spoken?

The seemingly perpetual low sales/usage figures for Windows Mobiles seems to speak for itself.

Several of my local mobile network emporium (EE, O2 and Voda) all have prominent Windows Mobiles displays. But do they sell? That is the question. My guess is nope.

YMMV (And probably will)

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They really have missed the point

If the app has to be rebuilt, then nobody will bother.

This would only ever have been used if the developer didn't need to do anything more than submit it to an app store.

If a developer wants to develop in a cross-platform manner that requires work on all platforms, then they will use a cross-platform toolkit.

They won't develop in an outdated language and then burn a few weeks trying to port it.

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Re: They really have missed the point

Perhaps the justification for writing the bridge is not

"if we make it easier, developers will flock to our platform with their iOS code"

but

"When we have to bribe developers to make a WP version of their iOS app, it will cost us less"

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FAIL

Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

""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," he says."

So."a lot" of people told you that you wouldn't need to develop a bridge tecnology for iOs and a seperate one foe Android because even though they are 2 very different things it would be "unnecessary"?

And that having to choose the iOs bridge for iOs apps and the Android bridge for Androiud apps "could be confusing"?

Whp did they consult to reach this astonishing conclusion? Windows mobile app developers? If so, the future of Windows on mobile looks bleaker than any of us could ever have imagined.

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Re: Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

"So."a lot" of people told you that you wouldn't need to develop a bridge tecnology for iOs and a seperate one foe Android because even though they are 2 very different things it would be "unnecessary"?"

The thinking is that most app developers have an iOS and Android app already and to create a WP app, only one needs to be ported. They've done a lot of work and decided that it's easier and/or the results are better when the iOS version is ported and therefore dumped the Android porting tools. The only problem is, Microsoft should have done this research and made this choice before making any announcements like they did at Build last year.

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Re: Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

If true then they burned the wrong bridge.

The "run apk in simulator" approach could have worked - and can't have been that difficult given that Android simulators already exist for development use. Even ones that handle graphics acceleration.

An Objective-C compiler might be more fun to write, but it will be much harder and more difficult to use. A project is more than just a compiler...

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Re: Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

>The "run apk in simulator" approach could have worked<

True, but Google would be always looking for ways to break the binaries even if they didn't get their lawyers on the case. Too much pain for the gain.

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Re: Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

"If true then they burned the wrong bridge. The "run apk in simulator" approach could have worked - and can't have been that difficult given that Android simulators already exist for development use. "

Ah yes, I imagine your finger in the air research definitely trumps their thousands of man hours of research. Android simulators exist, but they only work to a decent level of performance on PC hardware. You can't start emulating apps on a phone and expect them to perform just as well as they do in similar hardware with native Android.

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Re: Contemporary Microsoft Thinking

> Google would be always looking for ways to break the binaries

Just because that is what Microsoft did several times, eg: with AARD code to kill DR-DOS; with Win32s to kill OS/2; does not mean that Google would repay the favour.

In fact, it seems, MS were implementing Dalvic when Google had already moved on to ART.

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This post has been deleted by its author

This is what you do when you can't get developers to target your platform. We've seen it before and it generally doesn't work no matter how good the migration, or porting, mechanisms are.

Do you think the iOS developers really want the head aches and support issues they are going to get stung by if they take the chance and try to run on Windows? Not worth the hassle no doubt but you can be sure that Microsoft will pay as many developers as it can find to port to Windows. Unfortunately, it'll probably harm those developers and their apps more than help Microsoft. Then again, fewer iOS app developers is probably one of their targets also.

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Existing emulators

The existing emulator runs a whole system emulation (qemu variant) and boots up an Intel copy of Android on it. Without hardware virtualization the performance is not actually usable.

Emulating Android using API translation is actually rather interesting, but it would indeed be pretty difficult -- when they first started on wine, they got "hello world" and minesweeper type apps running pretty quickly, but then found with more complicated apps they may have 95% or even 99% of the API it needs but any given app doesn't need the same "extra" 1-5%. They also ran into the problem of more and more new APIs coming out.

I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't run into an analogous situation; they implemented some core Android APIs, got encouraged as some apps came right up, then ran into problems as they found the ones that didn't come up each would need different API work to fix, making a real mountain of additional work (plus they probably had a new Android come out in the interim, needing further APIs to be implemented to be fully up to date.)

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