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 …

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  1. Walter Bishop Silver badge
    Terminator

    Microsoft Android ®

    While it's dispiriting for Microsoft fans to see the company working so hard on Android, Google's OS has almost 90 per cent of the world smartphone market. Microsoft may respond: you just have to preach where the sinners are.”

    Why doesn't Microsoft just charge the hardware makers a tax on every handset sold?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Uh, because the hardware makers will tell MS to get stuffed ?

      This isn't the '90s anymore, and Microsoft is not only not the only game in town any more, it has forfeited its presence in that particular market.

      So, when you're begging for a seat, you do not give orders to the driver.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft Android ®

      "Why doesn't Microsoft just charge the hardware makers a tax on every handset sold?"

      They effectively do, as they collect royalties from every Android phone sold, for highly questionable patents.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft Android ®

        Are they still refusing to tell the public *what* patents? IIRC from Groklaw, they weren't saying and part of the settlement with the manufs was some kind of NDA about that.

        Being good spirited and all, so everyone is saved the effort of working around such patents.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Microsoft Android ®

          Are they still refusing to tell the public *what* patents? IIRC from Groklaw, they weren't saying and part of the settlement with the manufs was some kind of NDA about that.

          Would be a REAL shame if 2 or 3 of those manufacturers' legal departments got infected with spyware, and the NDA agreements just happened to leak out...

          Not that I'm advocating such a thing should happen to them, mind you...

          1. ROC

            Re: Microsoft Android ®

            Especially interesting to know how Barnes & Noble stood up to MS regarding its refusal to pay license fees for its Nook tablets such that MS avoided an open trial by settling with a joint ebook venture with B&N to keep them quiet (as I recall the gist of it).

            Anyway, I thought some Chinese source with access to the licensing specifics for phones made there spilled the details as part of some Chinese governmental filing requirement?

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft Android ®

          "Are they still refusing to tell the public *what* patents?"

          I believe so, but we know that one of the patents is for the FAT filesystem.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft Android ®

            Does Android still use FAT? Surely all the phones that have dropped micro SD cards have no reason to support FAT. The ones that do should just refuse to support FAT formatted cards and reformat them with ext4 or whatever.

            It isn't like anyone is still using that capability Android users were touting years ago as an advantage over iPhone of swapping micro SD cards from their camera to their phone to copy photos to their phone - since few of them own a separate camera these days. They are only used as a way to expand storage.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Microsoft Android ®

              "Does Android still use FAT?"

              Yes

              "Surely all the phones that have dropped micro SD cards have no reason to support FAT. "

              But those that haven't do.

              "The ones that do should just refuse to support FAT formatted cards and reformat them with ext4 or whatever."

              That would be a serious mistake as it would make it very difficult to be able to use SD cards to exchange data with non-Linux computers. You say nobody is using that capability anymore, but that just isn't true -- I personally know lots of people who do.

              1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

                Re: Microsoft Android ®

                > make it very difficult to be able to use SD cards to exchange data with non-Linux computers.

                The main issues are that cameras generally use FAT for their SD cards and that Microsoft makes it difficult for Windows to use anything else.

                1. DougS Silver badge

                  Re: Microsoft Android ®

                  It isn't as though Windows users can't install a driver for whatever filesystem the SD cards use instead of FAT/vFAT. Heck, the drive could be built into the SD card on a small FAT-formatted secondary partition so it would be easy to load.

                2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

                  Re: Microsoft Android ®

                  The main issues are that cameras generally use FAT for their SD cards and that Microsoft makes it difficult for Windows to use anything else.

                  But (as I understand it) MSWin has long had an "installable file system" API, it's just that no one wants to use it. If the various camera & consumer electronics manufacturers decided to adopt ext4 (or some more flash-friendly file system), you'd only need to install the IFS driver *once*, and it would be supported for anything that used it.

          2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft Android ®

            > we know that one of the patents is for the FAT filesystem.

            It is not for the actual FAT filesystem, that expired decades ago. It was for a feature of VFAT that has long file names and the way that these are held and a short file name is generated.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: Microsoft Android ®

              Yes, I stand corrected. Thanks!

  2. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Now fix Windows!

    Now that Microsoft has basically conceded that Windows Phone is dead, can they PLEASE re-work the Windows 10 UI so that it's DESKTOP FIRST again? Touch elements on the desktop are sooooo annoying.

    1. DougS Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Now fix Windows!

      Hey things could be worse than using a Windows Phone UI - they could rework it and release Windows 11 using the Android UI!

  3. LDS Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Slurpt + Slurp

    ... what could go wrong?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome To Microsoft 'Onavo'

    "Android users are getting one more superpower with the new Windows update, beyond the Your Phone app. Earlier this year, Microsoft unveiled Timeline, a Windows 10 feature that kept track of which files and webpages you were accessing, and when, so you could figuratively trace your digital steps and find what you were looking for. Now, Android users can install the Microsoft Launcher app, and access that same Timeline, so you can find the website or Office 365 file you wanted."

    __________

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/23/onavo_vpn_pulled_from_ios/

  5. Cavehomme_

    NSA OS

    Eventually there will only be one OS, or beggar all difference between them, called NSA OS.

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Point?

    Other than some business users, phone users are not going to rush out an add an app from Slurp because it is from Slurp. Users add apps either for entertainment (games, etc.) or because they need an app for some information (local mass transit system, etc.). So this will largely be ignored by the market as it will not be terribly useful or significantly better than what they already have installed.

    Many do not have a corporate supplied phone and thus will limit the amount company stuff on their phone. Certainly they (or the IT department) will limit the integration of the phone with the corporate assets.

    Another Slurp half-baked marketing idea. They should be concentrating on fixing Bloat and making it a worthwhile OS to use for the masses. Instead we getting idiocies such as this or the BaaS (Bloat-as-a-Service).

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Point?

      The enterprise phone market is large, they could do some brisk business if they could get a piece of that. Even if they don't make any money doing so it would be worth it to them to block Google from getting a foothold inside the enterprise.

      If Microsoft makes some compelling integration they could make it so a business tells people "if you want to use your personal Android phone you must install x, otherwise we will supply you with a corporate approved phone". Most people would install x rather than carry two phones.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Point?

      "Many do not have a corporate supplied phone and thus will limit the amount company stuff on their phone."

      This. I limit the amount of company stuff on my personal phone to "nothing", as it's too much of a security risk to allow company IT tendrils to touch my phone.

      1. ROC

        Re: Point?

        They probably see the other way around from their perspective ;-}

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Point?

          They probably do -- and they absolutely should!

  7. simonb_london

    Extortion

    Android manufactures have to pay off Microsoft for use of patents, the identity of which Microsoft keeps under NDA so no one actually knows which patents.

    Under this legalised extortion they probably earn a lot more from Android than Google do.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Extortion

      That may have been true in the early days of Android, but there's no way they are making more money from Android than Google does today. Think of the value of all the personal information they are extracting about every web site visited by Android users, their locations, what they search for, what they look for in maps, what apps they install and on and on.

      That's got to be more than the few bucks Microsoft gets off each Android phone sold (if indeed they are still getting that, I haven't heard anything about that for years) because it continues every day you own that phone, instead of just once when the phone is purchased.

  8. Deevo

    Picture mirroring with MS Your Phone

    This is definitely a version 1.0 as it only mirrors pictures in your Camera app. If you use another app such as Open Camera, PhotoScan, Messenger, Snapseed, Google Maps etc those photos will not be available.

  9. ROC

    MS Android Patents Revealed

    As I mentioned earlier in this discussion, Barnes & Noble did hold off Microsoft's Android patent demands in 2011, and formed a joint venture with them as part of the ongoing efforts by MS to keep the patents secret. But then the venture was dissolved, and they parted ways about a year later, and, it seems, the patents remained secret then:

    https://www.businessinsider.com/barnes-and-noble-pays-62-million-to-get-out-of-microsoft-deal-2014-12

    However, the patents were revealed by Chinese government regulators per this 2014 ZDnet article ( https://www.zdnet.com/article/310-microsoft-patents-used-in-android-licensing-agreements-revealed-by-chinese-gov/ ). The linked ArsTechnica article spells out many of the patents' disclosed, and that many were acquired from Nortel's portfolio via the MS participation in the Rockstar consortium that acquired a huge cache of patents with Nortel's bankruptcy liquidation:

    "The company has never revealed the patents and fees centered within licensing deals, unless required to do so in the courtroom. However, documents posted on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)’s website detail the full range of patents included within licensing agreements. As reported by Ars Technica, the patent lists were submitted as part of the Chinese government's review of the purchase of Nokia's handset division by Microsoft for $7.2 billion.

    Chinese regulators approved the deal in April after examining whether Microsoft's licensing agreements could be used in an anti-competitive fashion, and whether Nokia might be tempted to ramp up the costs of licensing.

    The patents, which are found on the Chinese language version of the website, include 73 standard-essential patents generally used in mobile technology, as well as 127 Android-implemented patents -- both developed by Microsoft and acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium. In addition, a number of non standard-essential patents were examined by Chinese regulators, including 68 patent applications and 42 issued patents."

  10. techmedixx

    I think there is much more going on than meets the eye. Google is hard at work developing Fucshia which will one day replace both Android and Chrome OS. They have also started to somewhat distance themselves from Android which has been both a boon and bane for Google. Android has helped make Google a powerhouse in the industry but it's also been the source of endless legal problems. Fucshia will deliver them from that.

    Once Android is 'deprecated' by Google It will no longer fit into Google's plans moving forward but it could figure prominently in Microsoft's. I would not be surprised if an acquisition of Android by Microsoft takes place once Fucshia is in place. A Microsoft branded Android would not face the same problems Google has concerning Android. They own many of the patents that have been the source of so many issues and would have an easier time coming to terms with ones they don't.

    Microsoft is looking for a way back into the mobile market and Android would certainly give them one. A big one. Google will replace Android and Chrome OS with Fucshia and it will happen virtually overnight and most customers won't even notice. There will also be those that are loyal to Android and won't accept a substitute.

    I think a Microsoft branded Android is a real possibility and it looks like Microsoft and Google are setting the stage. Microsoft is doing some heavy development work to integrate their services into Android. Windows Phone was awesome but suffered from a lack of third-party development for the platform. An acquisition of Android would also solve that problem.

    The reality is we will only know if it happens. In the meantime, we can only speculate and this is my prediction. It may be a bit out there but it feels right somehow, so don't be too surprised if it one day comes to pass.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > I think a Microsoft branded Android is a real possibility

      They already had one. Nokia released 3 Android Nokia-X phones and Microsoft continued to sell them as Microsoft-X for a few months after they took over. They killed them when they overtook Windows Phone sales.

      https://www.theverge.com/2014/2/24/5440498/nokia-x-android-phone-hands-on

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