back to article Microsoft: OK, we have no phones, but look how much we love Android

With no phone platform left, Microsoft has snuggled much closer to Android. The new version of Windows 10 – available on demand today to all users – introduces what Microsoft calls "app mirroring" into the Windows. It's similar to Samsung's SideSync (but much more basic) or the open-source scrcpy display server. This …

  1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Meh

    It's kind of like Microsoft has now conceded they're not going to be able to make a phone OS that gathers any traction any more, so they're going to have to play in someone else's sandbox from now on.

    Given their track record and who they're up against, I'm not sure whether to be happy, sad or just plain worried at that precedent...

  2. MyffyW Silver badge

    This doesn't feel like a ringing endorsement of the platform, merely a meek recognition that the game has moved on. I wouldn't care to bet on which tech-titan will ultimately hold sway, although I'd be putting an outside bet on a company I've barely heard of - but for the fact I've yet to hear of them.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    They are the only company that has all the pieces needed to completely replace Google's stuff like search, maps, app store, browser etc. The "MSAndroid" app store would be bare at first, but they have deep pockets and could provide incentives for developers who have Android apps on the Play Store to copy them to Microsoft's store.

    Even if they didn't make any money off it, I'm sure they wouldn't mind taking all that user data from Google.

    They could introduce some proprietary stuff that ties them into corporate Windows networks really well and not only take most of the corporate Android, but probably take a chunk of the corporate iPhone market away from Apple.

  4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    They already did make an Android phone with MS and Nokia services.

    A couple of months before Microsoft bought Nokia phone division Nokia released a couple of phones with the Nokia X platform based on Android Jelly Bean. After the purchase Microsoft continued building them as 'Microsoft X', but soon killed them because they may have overtaken the sales of Lumia.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nokia_X

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/17/x_marks_the_chop_microsoft_snuffs_out_nokias_android_venture/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    Of course the end game is to make their own phones, with their own ecosystem. Before that, they need some things to happen.

    They need their shill organisation - FairSearch - to get the EU to do their dirty work first, and then they can walk in and replace the Google stuff with their much more invasive, Microsoft Android platform, where things are slightly different (you know, how they tried to destroy Java with their own Java which was deliberately incompatible)

  6. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    replace the Google stuff with their much more invasive, Microsoft Android platform

    You really believe Microsoft can out-evil Google? They have been out-eviled and left in the dust, and will never catch up to Google in that department.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's kind of like Microsoft has now conceded they're not going to be able to make a phone OS that gathers any traction any more, so they're going to have to play in someone else's sandbox from now on.

    Single bachelor with little dog

    Tony Green from Turnham Green...

  8. arctic_haze Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    The Android running Nokia X has been killed by Microsoft soon after it has been announced. Some people claim that Nokia X was a way of forcing Microsoft into buying the company's phone business. The irony is that the phone has been announced a quarter after Microsoft bought Nokia phone business but obviously developed earlier.

  9. Bob Vistakin
    Holmes

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    Head spinning thought: If MS made Android phones, would they still charge Google the royalties they extort per handset from other manufacturers in patent fees?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    How so? There is plenty of historic evidence where Microsoft have been truly evil in their operations, but I'm struggling to list the Google ones. perhaps list them for us?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    You know it's not 2006 anymore, and FAT patents have expired, and everything else has been pretty much nullified in court? Do you believe everything you read on the internet?

  12. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    I don't think that Google has out-eviled Microsoft, exactly. They both seem about equally evil. However, Google is more powerful and so it can spread its evil more widely.

  13. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    They don't charge Google royalties, they charge the manufacturers who dare to install Android. Knowing how corporations tend to work, If they made their own Android phones, they very likely pay those royalties as well (it would be less expensive than creating an accounting exception). They'd just be paying them to themselves, so it would be a wash, income-wise.

  14. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    > Some people claim that Nokia X was a way of forcing Microsoft into buying the company's phone business.

    It was a way of Nokia surviving if Microsoft didn't buy the division. The agreement where MS paid Nokia a $million a year for only make Windows Phones was about to expire. In spite of that subsidy the division was still making a loss because they had to sell the phones below cost in order for them to be bought. This was because MS only catered for a limited set of SOCs that were well below leading edge.

  15. DougS Silver badge

    @Bob Vistakin

    If MS made Android phones, would they still charge Google the royalties

    They don't charge Google the royalties, they charge the phone's vendor. There's little point in charging themselves royalties.

  16. Deevo

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    They don't need to make their own android phones because it's already relatively simple to create a Microsoft android phone by installing Microsoft Launcher and Microsoft apps for android. These include Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Edge, One Drive, Office Lens, Xbox, News, OneNote, Authenticator, Translator, SharePoint, To Do, Remote Desktop, Teams, Staff Hub etc etc. I'd say it's already pretty much a fait accompli. I've done it, it works very well, and I'm happy!

  17. ROC

    Re: Surprised they don't make their own Android phones

    After trying to get away from Google/Android about 3 years ago along with a cellular provider change (Verizon to AT&T), and going with Window Phone 8.1 on Lumia 640's for me and my wife, it seemed a good move. It was her 1st smartphone after years of feature phones, and I felt more comfortable getting her up to speed on that platform (for a lot less money, $50 for a Lumia 635 at first) than the Androids of my experience over the prior couple years. Her experience was so good, I decided to make the switch myself from Android to WP, and we both got 640's at that point (under $100 - good enough). The built-in MS Office-ish apps and others such as for photography, messaging, weather, and navigating (Waze and Here Maps/Go for me) were good enough, and reasonably well integrated at that point, and there were just enough other apps to satisfy our rather basic needs/wants.

    Then WP 10 came along, and it seemed to be disintegrating as it went along "upgrading" from WP 8.1 (in my testing - kept wife on 8.1), and never did get up to the usability of WP 8.1. So this year, after I got back on Android, then I got my wife switched over, and it has been a bit rough for her, but she is settling in with it. LG's mid-range phones for under $100 seem to do the job, and the MS android apps have eased the transition, but they just don't seem to work quite as well as the native version on WP 8.1 did. I am still dabbling with a Lumia 950 to see if it ever gets it together.

    Oh well, hoping Purism next year will give a better option for me at least - my wife does NOT handle techno change well at all. Just hoping Android updates don't become a bigger challenge for her than Purism would be...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Preach where the sinners are?

    When did SCO enter this circus?

  19. fandom Silver badge

    "While it's dispiriting for Microsoft fans to see the company working so hard on Android"

    Yes, all three of them

  20. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Linux

    3 Words

    Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

    Microsoft and Google are just as bad these days.

  21. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    Now you can have both on one phone. Do you add or multiply the evil?

  22. choleric

    Re: 3 Words

    Following the "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" maxim you don't add or multiply, you raise it to a power. This gives

    Microsoft to the power of a Google

    or

    (Microsoft) ^ (Google)

    which is a very large amount of evil indeed. Note that "the don't be evil" safeguard doesn't apply here because we are dealing with absolute amounts.

  23. VikiAi

    Re: Do you add or multiply the evil?

    I think you use an exponentiation.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 3 Words

    Interesting, what evidence do you have that suggests Google are anywhere near as bad a Microsoft?

    Microsoft have a real history, but Google, it's really hard to find anything. I can find plenty of examples where they splash cash to open things up in good ways (VP9 - £128m and then open sourced it right away), things where they close down their own services (hey they own them, you don't pay for them with money, so you don't really have a valid complaint).

    Most people's complain about Google, is how good their products are, and how they are very successful as a result. That's a pretty pathetic reason for not liking something...

  25. DougS Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    I guess there are still some suckers around who believe Google's "do no evil" pledge. Because Google open sources some stuff that isn't important to how they make money you think they are altruistic? Wow, you are certainly easy to buy off. Open sourcing stuff is easy for Google to do because they don't sell you software, they steal your personal information in exchange for "free stuff", which is apparently a trade you are all too happy to make.

    At least with Microsoft you have a choice about whether you want to have a relationship with them. It might have been a pain at times when they tried to embrace and extend the web with IE6, but you still had the choice (like I did running Linux and Netscape then Mozilla then Firefox)

    With Google they are almost impossible to avoid thanks to all the web trackers they put everywhere, the web sites / applications they've conned into using a google login to access them, people who send you links to Google Docs documents, and so on. At least when someone sent me a Word doc I could open it in Openoffice which was good enough for reading it.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 3 Words

    "Interesting, what evidence do you have that suggests Google are anywhere near as bad a Microsoft?"

    If you're the consumer, then you don't see how bad they've went. If you work with google stuff but not in google, then you are lucky to not fallen into hell.

    Take a look at the youtubers. You'll see at least one video of them tell their viewers that they are burned out and getting stressful when youtube changed their algorithm without any notice and dropping their viewers. I believe the recent shooter at youtube should have explained it.

    Take a look at the developers on play store. They pay google the 30% tax but without the 30% support. When your app gets banned/ flagged, you get it reversed by luck of the AI. In many case, google again changed their algorithm and thousand of successful developers suddenly gets 60% drop in app downloads. Not to mention, most app rarely get promoted on play store front page. It doesn't take someone with some sense to see the same app promoted for week in front meant over thousands of app don't get any chance.

    Adding the recent removal of www and m from chrome url, helping the military, and making a censored search engine for china, 'Is Google anywhere near as bad' really is debatable.

  27. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Re: 3 Words

    "Interesting, what evidence do you have that suggests Google are anywhere near as bad a Microsoft?"

    Google may be worse than Microsoft these days. Microsoft never had to face down a rebellion against their own employees over whether it was a good decision to build AI weapons of war for the US Army. Regardless of your opinions on the Americans - these weapons WILL be used, and probably in the Middle East - sparking more wars, destabilising more countries, more waves of people flooding across borders to flee, and more terrorism at home and abroad.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: 3 Words

    " they steal your personal information in exchange for "free stuff", which is apparently a trade you are all too happy to make."

    They don't steal anything. I have read the privacy policy, and it's very clear what I give up, and what I get in exchange. I'm also intelligent enough to understand what the term "anonymised data" actually means.

    You sound like a rabid Google hater living with a tinfoil hat.

  29. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    "They don't steal anything"

    Yes, they do. I don't use Google services, but nonetheless, I have to engage in constant defensive actions to prevent Google from spying on me (just like with Facebook). They even do it with real-world activities that don't involve the internet at all. The fact that it's impossible to perfectly defend myself against them is just more indication of how insistent they are in engaging in this theft.

  30. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    > indication of how insistent they are in engaging in this theft.

    You should try learning English. 'Theft' is "removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it".

  31. Richard Plinston Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    > these weapons WILL be used, and probably in the Middle East - sparking more wars,

    Trump has to come up with some reason to cancel the upcoming mid-term elections. A Middle East war, or Korean, will do that.

  32. JohnFen Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    Fair enough -- I was using "theft" in the colloquial sense rather than the legal. What term would you prefer I use for when an entity is compiling data about me without my consent?

  33. DougS Silver badge

    Trump canceling elections

    Oh please, can we stop these ridiculous fear mongering partisan claims? They weren't true when conservatives were floating FUD about Obama canceling elections due to some unspecified national emergency, and they aren't true now when liberals float the claims Trump will.

    We managed to have elections during WW II, which was about as serious as war gets, so another Iraq halfway around the world isn't going to provide anyone such an excuse.

  34. David Roberts Silver badge

    Re: 3 Words

    Removal of personal privacy seems to fit the definition of theft.

  35. ROC

    Re: 3 Words - Don't be Evil?

    That motto was officially dropped when Alphabet became the official parent of Google in 2015:

    http://time.com/4060575/alphabet-google-dont-be-evil/

    However, per the linked article they did replace it with a "positive" formulation for their code of conduct:

    "

    “Employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries and controlled affiliates should do the right thing—follow the law, act honorably, and treat each other with respect,” the new code reads, noticeably dropping the famous motto.

    "

    Maybe a few things not covered leave some scope creep for "evil" such as being sneaky and obfuscating how user data are monetized, licensed, and shared?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'what evidence do you have that suggests Google are anywhere near as bad a Microsoft?'

    https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/17/17344250/google-x-selfish-ledger-video-data-privacy

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/google-and-mastercard-cut-a-secret-ad-deal-to-track-retail-sales

    https://theintercept.com/2018/09/21/google-suppresses-memo-revealing-plans-to-closely-track-search-users-in-china/

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/09/25/chrome_69_google_cookies/

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/09/24/google_chrome_auto_login/

    ---------

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/24/google_data_flows_study/

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/26/google_pixel_2_xl_what_it_means_now/?page=4

  37. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    WTF?

    The end of the world has just got that bit closer

    MicroSoft getting all cuddly with Google? A WTF moment if ever there was one.

  38. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Re: The end of the world has just got that bit closer

    I think it's more King Kong versus Godzilla.

  39. mark l 2 Silver badge

    No mention of Airdroid app in this article, despite the fact that a lot of what MS are only just launching, Airdroid has been doing for at least about 6 years now.

    Plus Airdroid works from your web browser so you don't need Windows 10 to use it

  40. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Pint

    Thanks for mentioning AirDroid. Will download and try it out.

    Thanks!

  41. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Meh, not working on my phone. I can connect and everything, but when I open the icons to do... work... nothing happens.

    I have a Xiaomi Redmi 4A.

  42. 's water music Silver badge

    also pushbullet

    Has a Chrome and (I think) firefox addin. Gives you phone notification popups on your computer and (for me) the killer feature of SMS in the browser

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. airdroid

    I feel just a tad uneasy about a company that puts the following on their front page:

    "Remote control App which based on AirMirror technology".

  44. onefang

    Re: also pushbullet

    And then there are things like GTalkSMS, can do various phone things controlled via Jabber / XMPP. I'm sure there's more.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re-use; buy; build

    > The more mature SideSync, launched three years ago, allows the user to handle a number of phone tasks without leaving the PC: initiate and answer calls, set alarms, and share files. So there's plenty to do.

    It's an odd decision making process at Microsoft: we'll re-develop about half the features of SideSync (thereby doing just enough to put them put of business in a couple of years) but we won't buy them out and give our users a full-featured product.

    User outcome: the MS version is not good enough to sway most users; those already swayed and willing to pay have the rug pulled from under them.

  46. AMBxx Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: Re-use; buy; build

    Don't you just hate competition!

    I've never heard of SideSync. It may be great, but they need to sort out their marketing.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Re-use; buy; build

    > Don't you just hate competition!

    I do when the outcome for users (i.e. me) is the worst of all worlds. I can only assume that you're prepared to put up with sub-standard.

  48. TReko

    Re: Re-use; buy; build

    SideSync is from Samsung, who have many innovative, but poorly marketed innovations.

    If Apple released something like SideSync, they will have a huge announcement, a big conference and many trained PR people and tame journo's regurgitating how it will "change the world".

  49. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Re: Re-use; buy; build

    > If Apple released something like SideSync...

    But Apple does have features that link a phone and Mac. Can't remember the implementation exactly, but phone calls can be taken in a Mac, and work on open documents on one machine can be picked up on another machine.

  50. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Re-use; buy; build

    The difference is that when Apple introduces something new they introduce it as a polished end-to-end solution that will work on all devices running the latest iOS, which is a lot of devices considering even 2013's 5S runs iOS 12 (and runs it faster than it ran iOS 11) so they get an immediate audience of around a billion potential users.

    It is a much more difficult process rolling stuff out to Android users because most of them will need a new phone to get the latest OS, and even then people in poorer countries buying lower spec devices might not be able to access it.

    It is a lot easier promoting something "install the latest update and you can do x" versus "if you are lucky maybe you'll get this in a few months, or maybe you'll get it with your next phone, unless you spend less than $150 for it".

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