back to article Microsoft's in-store Android looks desperate but can Google stop it?

To survive in an increasingly mobile-first world, Microsoft needs the kind of regulatory intervention it fought so hard to avoid in the 1990s and 2000s. Only this time, imposed on the dominant mobile OS, Google's Android. Microsoft imposed an iron look and feel on Windows, preventing PC builders from customising and branding …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    It's dead, Jim

    Its own platform is still around: but notably in Windows 10 briefings for journalists this week, the Creators Update mobile edition due wasn't mentioned – nor was Continuum.

    Can Windows Mobile 7/Windows Phone 8/Windows 10 Mobile be used as a case study in universities to show how to piss away the best part of a decade and billions of dollars and have absolutely nothing to show for it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's dead, Jim

      Yeah it should. As an owner of Lumia 640 myself, I'm reconciling myself to doing the unthinkable when it dies; Yes cross over to the dark side and get an iPhone! (not a new one, a 2 generation old hand-me down will suffice and and least someone else will have paid Apple's margin tax). Why not Android then? In a word, security! Ever since I read about dodgy Chinese manufactures loading spyware into the firmware of new phones, my confidence in this Linux distro has declined, and continued to do so with every security issue I have read about since. So damn, an iPhone it will proably be. Which is a pity because I actually like Windows Phone and the Lumia hardware has been solid.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: It's dead, Jim

        @AC I still have a Lumia 950 at home, running Creator's Update, but for every day, I switched to a Nexus 5X last autumn. I don't particularly like it and it is a bit sluggish, compred to the Lumia, but the two apps I used most (WhatsApp and FitBit) were unreliable under Windows 10.

        WhatsApp would sometimes go a couple of days, before noticing that there were a dozen messages waiting to be read. FitBit would complain at least once a day, that the connection had been lost and to restart the phone! In fact, it was quicker to deinstall and reinstall FitBit. The problem seems to have had nothing to do with the phone or the connection, but poor programming on FitBit's side of the fence.

        I still miss the Lumia, the UI is better than Android and much better than iOS, but the apps just aren't there, or they aren't reliable. Windows Phone seems to be Microsoft's V2000 to Apple's Betamax and Google's VHS...

        I would class WP as the best of a bad bunch, for mobile operating systems, but you just can't deny Android's popularity - heck, iPhone is now sinking to the martket share levels that Windows Phone enjoyed at its height!

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: It's dead, Jim

          Quote:-

          iPhone is now sinking to the martket share levels that Windows Phone enjoyed at its height!

          And in other news, Apple has ordered 70Million OLED screens from Samsung.

          https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/apple-places-order-for-70-million-oled-iphone-panels-from-samsung.2040058/page-3

          {and plenty of other sources}

          If 70 million sales (for this year) is sinking to Windows Phone levels then WinPhone was once a best seller.

          Apple will sell more top end phones than Samsung. I can't see how that is sinking to WinPhone levels of popularity.

          Remember that Apple tells the SEC and the world every 3 months how many phones they have sold. Not shipped, sold.

          There is a lot to hate about Apple but even the most rabid Apple hater must grudgingly admit that they make shed loads of money from their really inferior products. Now why can't the Android crew do the same? Then everyone would be happy.

          1. Chairo

            Re: It's dead, Jim

            @Steve Davies 3

            If 70 million sales (for this year) is sinking to Windows Phone levels then WinPhone was once a best seller.

            WinPhone effectively owned the smartphone market with 47% market share in 2007.

            A few tactical mistakes and a market can be lost very quickly. CP/M anyone?

          2. big_D Silver badge

            @Steve Davies 3 Re: It's dead, Jim

            You are mixing sales volume and market share.

            The volumes of devices sold has been growing, so yes, Apple have ordered more screens for this year than all WPs sold in a year at their height, by about 20%. BUT at its height, WP had up to around 15% market share, the iPhone is already slipping into this territory - depending on whose stats you believe, they have between 13% and 18% market share.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: It's dead, Jim

              WinPhone effectively owned the smartphone market with 47% market share in 2007.

              Windows Phone first came to market in 2010, so it would have been difficult to have 47% market share, before it was even a gleam in Steve Ballmers' eye.

              You mean Windows Mobile 6, which was a very different beast.

              1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

                Re: It's dead, Jim

                > You mean Windows Mobile 6, which was a very different beast.

                I think that Microsoft's 40+% of the smartphone market was before WM6 (there is a reason that the number 6 is there). But, yes, WM6 was a very different beast, as were its predecessors and successors, and that is exactly where Microsoft's phone problems lie. Every generation or two MS has thrown out the baby with the bathwater, has dumped the developers and the development tools and started anew. After that happened two or three times the developers knew it would happen again and so moved on.

                Microsoft is trying to do that again with desktop systems. All Windows Win32 programs and tools are now 'legacy' as MS tries to get developers onto UWPs so that MS can collect 30% of all software revenue.

            2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: @Steve Davies 3 It's dead, Jim

              > BUT at its height, WP had up to around 15% market share

              WP (Windows Phone 7 and 8) never had more than around 4% of the world smartphone market. There may have been certain countries which did have market share above 10% for a short time. Before there was iPhone and Android MS did have a moderate share (40+% of the US market), the competition was Symbian and Blackberry. After iPhone, MS's market share dropped to 5% (with WM6.x) and it continued falling with brief small recoveries through the WP era.

              15% for WP was IDC's and Gartner's failed predictions.

              """

              Windows smartphone sales 2008: 20.9 million = 12.3% market share

              Windows smartphone sales 2009: 16.8 million = 9.1% market share

              Windows smartphone sales 2010: 15.1 million = 5.0% market share*

              Windows smartphone sales 2011: 10.2 million = 2.1% market share*

              Windows smartphone sales 2012: 17.4 million = 2.5% market share*

              * includes both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone operating systems, combined

              Source: TomiAhonen Consulting from public analyst and industry data

              This table may be freely shared

              """

              """IDC reported that Windows Phone market share, having peaked in 2013 at 3.4%, had dropped to 2.5% by the second quarter of 2014.[135]"""

              1. big_D Silver badge

                Re: @Steve Davies 3 It's dead, Jim

                Richard, you are correct. I messed up and used the Europe / German market shares.

        2. davidp231

          Re: It's dead, Jim

          Whatsapp has been broken since the WP8.1 update came out. I vaguely remember it working properly on 8.0 when I got my Lumia 620, but it was definitely borked in the way you describe when 8.1 was used.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's dead, Jim

        "Why not Android then? In a word, security!"

        UnaOS is reported to be released in April https://unaos.com/

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: It's dead, Jim

          "UnaOS is reported to be released in April https://unaos.com/"

          It was also funded by IndieGoGo. And their attitudes don't give a lot of people confidence in their ability to actually deliver (for example, they're reluctant to subject their code to scrutiny).

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's dead, Jim

        If you want security, iPhone is a bad choice. The people who break into devices professionally reported a 100% success rate against IOS devices (Apple IOS, not Cisco IOS).

        When you add in the fact that it is pre-compromised with respect to privacy by Apple, and way overpriced, with lock-in a design criterion, it's not a good choice for almost anything.

        There are various mitigation strategies that can be employed, such as having an Android phone that is turned off most of the time and with very very few apps with almost no privileges, and carefully segregated from any personally identifiable accounts, and a carefully chosen feature phone for phone calls and texts. Never, ever use the gmail address the app store knows your phone by for any other purpose than accessing the app store.

        1. Conall O

          Re: It's dead, Jim

          most of the client I see that have company Iphones use a 3rd party enterprise encryption platform that offers a sandboxed environment and active directory integration for authentication over company gateways for mail and such.

          as above, you aren't truly safe on any platform, you have to take multiple steps to prevent and mitigate worst case scenario of your creds being robbed aswell as ur info.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Facepalm

      Re: It's dead, Jim

      I just had to come back to this article to check the date.

      Nope, I'd not been taken in.

      Let me get this straight. Microsoft really has been reduced to trying to persuade salesdroids, at the point of sale of a top end shiny, to right there and blow out its brains with their own crapware, before the "customer" has even left the store, and right in front of them? And if they have a problem later on with it and pop back into carphonewhorehouse or whatever they'll be happy the salesdroid won't just blame Samsung/Google/O2 ?

      About that date - perhaps I shouldda gone to Spec Savers?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's dead, Jim

      Agree, MSFT was never willing to give up the two things that Google gave the OEMs -

      1) A free OS, to the OEMs (MSFT insisted upon their 1980s licensed OS model until it was far too late)

      2) Customization rights over the UI, assuming the OEMs threw a Google search bar and Gmail in there (which was no prob for the OEMs as people want those apps anyway).

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Android is less than desperate

    It's getting quite pitiful, no longer the little child of a few years, it's an annoying teenager now, drinking at the bar and soon to drive off into the sunset and a telegraph pole.

    I'm getting totally fed up with Androids continuous twerking of its applications - features that worked and you got used to using and liked just disappear one day without warning. Do I sounds pissed off? Listening to Roy Harper at 7am in the morning can make you wonder about the sense in any of this. I hate the Google Man... and the app that turned him loose.

    Problem is, there's no alternative.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Android is less than desperate

      Welcome to the vicious cycle known as a Captive Market.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Android is less than desperate

      And then just to add insult to injury, Samsung add TouchWiz.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android is less than desperate

      Like, please give us real world examples. I have a Nexus5x, and it's a superb mid range, and Google add some nice stuff. The Pixel C I have also also superb, and the envy of Surface owners everywhere (who thought they needed win32 compatibility and paid a fortune for it, only to discover the world had moved on and they really didn't need to run CorelDraw 3 anymore).

  3. Whitter
    Unhappy

    The Maginot Line

    "... But is it legal? Microsoft evidently thinks that Google's Maginot Line can be circumvented..."

    "Evidently thinks"? Not necessarily. It may be no more that a tactic to overtly illustrate the current anti-competitive restrictions being applied by Google.

    Many might smirk with schadenfreude given Microsoft's history of similar market abuse but, as immoral as Microsoft were, the rest of us do not benefit from another company applying similar tactics/morality in the mobile OS world.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: The Maginot Line

      This does indeed have stunt written all over it. It's probably legal but it probably voids the warranty and there's no way Microsoft is gearing up to handle this instead of Samsung.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The Maginot Line

        >but it probably voids the warranty

        Only if MS actually install a custom ROM without Samsung's permission. From reading the two accounts (Mary Foley's & CokeRobot @ Reddit), I suspect this is either a simple instore pre-install of selected app's whilst the customer is waiting, or Samsung is permitting MS Stores to download a custom firmware update that consists of the MS apps and removes various standard third-party app's.

        If MS really are installing a custom ROM we can expect people to be very interested as it may provide an alternative and potentially simpler way of rooting Android devices...

    2. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

      Yeah...

      I think you might be right, there is no chance that this will be a successful product. Despite all the stupid mistakes Microsoft has made with mobile devices I can't imagine that they really think this could be a big thing. They're probably hoping to anger Google so they can start a lawsuit over it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Maginot Line

      "... But is it legal? Microsoft evidently thinks that Google's Maginot Line can be circumvented..."

      Doctrine of first sale, manu can't do anything after the phone is bought. The receipt will read one Samsung G8 + one MS feature pack. Do you want us to install that for you?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Maginot Line

      "anti-competitive restrictions being applied by Google."

      Google never said they they were going to buy Android for many millions and continue to develop Android for many millions more pro bono. They monetize it through search... and charge the end users, OEMs nothing for their software. So, yeah, they require the Google search bar on Android phones and the Play store, but that isn't anti-competitive.

      Anti-competitive would be if they told Samsung and Lenovo that they can't use Android anymore unless they stop making Windows PCs. Something like MSFT forcing the OEMs to still pay for a Windows license for every Linux PC sold.

  4. Mukti

    Microsoft's Restictions

    Try flashing a customized Android or another OS on a Windows 10 mobile device.

    You CANNOT... because of Wintel's UEFI Secure Boot restrictions !

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

    I have recently encountered the following issue with Andoids "OK Google" feature.

    As per the Chocolate Factorys suggestion, I have my digital pal enabled in all screens ready to assist.

    I set my Sat Nav up and start driving.

    Someone in the car (maybe the radio) says "Google", and up pops the search screen ... obscuring the Sat Nav.

    Guess what ?

    There is no way to close that screen without touching the phone and riskng the 6 points/£2000 fine.

    Hardly a business-proposition feature ?

    Googling (oh the irony) suggests that this isn't a big deal for the Android Fanbois.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      How well do other mobile OS behave in the same situtation? I really hate using Android (spent a weekend with my Mum's Samsung), but not sure any of them manage well in-car. My Windows Phone has great sat-nav, but an incoming call takes over the screen hiding the directions.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: but an incoming call takes over the screen

        But with Windows Phone, once the call has ended, the previous display comes back. As does Android - or certainly if you're using the Drivemode app.

        I've just tried the ACs setup and get the same result. Once the Google Search Screen pops up, it won't go away. Saying "Thank you" cancels the search but leaves the screen up, so if you were to be relying on your satnav, you'd need to touch the screen which can be interesting at 70mph.

        Just a thought, AC, but maybe look at Macros ? See if you can setup a macro to close the search screen from a voice command.

        As we are seeing with Alexa, OK Google, SIri, and Cortana, voice control is starting to be big. Not because it's gimmicky, but because people like my boss - who is getting on for 70 - won't give up their iShiny until they're dead ...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      "There is no way to close that screen without touching the phone and riskng the 6 points/£2000 fine."

      If you are not hand holding the device, surely you are OK to touch the screen. Otherwise, how can I legally dismiss notifications on my Garmin or answer the phone using the steering wheel button?

      I'm asking for clarification, by the way. The way English law is being drafted at the moment I'm prepared to believe almost any idiocy, but I have always understood I'm allowed to press a button on my fixed user interface.

      1. roblightbody

        Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

        I checked with the police because I was confused too.

        The phone must be mounted on the dashboard, not in your hand - thats essential.

        As long as its mounted, you can touch it - as long as it doesn't affect your driving. In that respect its no different to the distracting touch screens that now come in all new cars.

        By the way - the Android Auto app is great - and yes I have i disabled the "OK Google" command.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

          "As long as its mounted, you can touch it - as long as it doesn't affect your driving." and that's the $64,000 question.

          It's not going to stop them charging you for a minor infraction after operating your phone in the last half an hour. You were distracted by the operation or the thought of the operation of the phone and that would have affected your driving. Points for you laddy, you can challenge the points but then you'll have more points added and maybe a fine too.

        2. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Android Auto app

          I'm hoping that all motor manufacturers give up on their attempts to "innovate" in car IT, and just make cars which have a space for the owners tablet/smartphone of choice to fit.

          I have a Citroen - not even a year old. The Sat Nav is shit. The audio functions are shit. And the clowns wanted £299 *plus* £30/month to provide me with what I already have in the shape of HERE maps, and a 4G connection.

          The *only* saving grace is I didn't pay extra for them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Android Auto app

            My next car may require wire cutters to permanently and verifiably fix the security and privacy flaws of connected cars.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Car Supplied SatNavs

            Totally agree.

            My 'motor' also uses a SatNav with 'Here' (here today, gone tomorrow???) maps.

            it is a 15 plate. You can't get a map update for it.

            So go buy yourself a Garmin or a Tomtom.

            As I ride a motorcycle, I have a Tomtom Satnav. They kindly put a screen (As in car widnscreen) mount in the box when I bought it. I also get lifetime Updates for Europe.

            Save yourself a shed load of money and ditch the make supplied Satnav.

    3. Bucky 2

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      I'm not surprised that saying "thank you" to cancel doesn't work for you.

      What I *am* surprised at, is that you managed to get "OK Google" to work in a car in the first place. I've long since given up on that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: get "OK Google" to work in a car

        Seems to work for me.

        The fun bit is when someone on the radio (or more likely a podcast) says "Google" and trips it accidentally.

        1. Feldspa

          Re: get "OK Google" to work in a car

          I believe you can change the activation word/phrase to something other than "OK Google"

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

        I'm not surprised that saying "thank you" to cancel doesn't work for you.

        Unfortunately "cancel, you fucking piece of shit" doesn't work either.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      Your making this up...

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      "OK Google" are you tracking my journey?

    6. jaffa99

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      You can touch the screen if the phone is mounted in a holder.

    7. Planty Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      Errm, you say cancel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Errm, you say cancel..

        Nope - the search screen still stays in front.

        Just had an email from Googles product support on this. Currently, they don't see it as a problem.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      Works really well for me, and Android Auto is superb.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      The mistake here is not using a dedicated GPS for navigation purposes, which provides reliable network free navigation while not broadcasting your location to the world in real time.

    10. Feldspa

      Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

      change the activation phrase then if its such an issue. http://www.wtfandroid.com/change-google-now-command-from-ok-google-to-something-else/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: change the activation phrase

        I think I can begin to understand why so much modern software is shit, if the comprehension skills displayed here are the best the IT world can offer.

        Reading the OP *properly* about the "OK Google" issue, it's not that the "OK Google" brings up the search screen when the OP is driving. It seems they want that behaviour.

        The OPs "problem" is that once the "OK Google" search screen appears, there is no way to "disappear" it.

        So "changing the activation phrase" won't resolve the OPs problem.

        I'm sure there's a Dilbert which encapsulates this ....

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Android - bit of a toy OS, really.

        change the activation phrase then if its such an issue. http://www.wtfandroid.com/change-google-now-command-from-ok-google-to-something-else/

        Change it to something like "Steven Segal is a talented actor" and the Google search will never come up again.

  6. druck Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Unwanted Microsoft Experience

    My latest Galaxy was already infested with Microsoft software such as OneNote and OneDrive, they were the second things I disabled. Facebook being the first of course.

    1. Windows8

      Re: Unwanted Microsoft Experience

      Because Google is less invasive? Hmmm

  7. MyffyW Silver badge

    Android

    Dear Microsoft, I have a Nokia 920 which would love to run Android if you could only approach this problem from another angle.

    1. josuan

      Re: Android

      You have to talk to Nokia about that. Nokia 920 was made by Nokia and not Microsoft. The first Microsoft made and branded phone was the Lumia 535.

  8. Warm Braw Silver badge

    A custom ROM is flashed on to the device in store

    That would presumably make support rather more difficult. Mind you, it's Android so I guess owners already have low expectations of regular updates.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A custom ROM is flashed on to the device in store

      "That would presumably make support rather more difficult. Mind you, it's Android so I guess owners already have low expectations of regular updates."

      I am really watching Nokia and BlackBerry these days. They both seem to be thinking in terms of making regular updates their selling point. Now if Nokia can do a bit better than a 430 CPU...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A custom ROM is flashed on to the device in store

      No different from a carrier ROM then?

  9. Peter X

    Sympathy for The Beast?

    Whilst I'm certain I should want greater competition in the mobile-OS world, I'm really struggling to care about MS at all.

    Didn't they try to have an alternative Android stack to the Google stuff at one point? Didn't they have a good map application?

    Anyway, this whole loading software at retail thing clearly won't scale, so has considerably less chance of working than Windows-phone did... by MS surely know this. So are they trying to provoke Google into doing something that help MS (and others) launch a legal attack?

    *Need a popcorn icon for this post!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sympathy for The Beast?

      "Didn't they try to have an alternative Android stack to the Google stuff at one point? Didn't they have a good map application?"

      Not really. While you could use OpenStreetMap and so on, no one has the sheer manpower Google does. Remember, they had real live people driving real live cars around the world to get their own internal map data. They have their own private fiber network and so on. IOW, Google is completely in control of a lot of private resources here, all acquired legally through their own hands. And with work on AOSP a pale shell of what it once was, it's rapidly becoming a Hobson's Choice: Take It Or Leave It, understanding that there's not much left should you leave.

      What would you do if bending over was the only way to keep yourself (and likely your family) from starving?

      1. stephanh

        Re: Sympathy for The Beast?

        "Didn't they try to have an alternative Android stack to the Google stuff at one point? Didn't they have a good map application?"

        You may be referring to Nokia X, which was Android but all the Google services were redirected to Microsoft services. Note that they therefore couldn't use the Google Play store but had to use their own app store (I believe there was also a cooperation with Yandex).

        It might have been a viable alternative to Google's stack but Microsoft killed it approximately one femtosecond after they bought Nokia. Unlikely that a revival could now stop the Google juggernaut.

  10. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Hmm...

    Could force a decision over just who exactly owns what on a phone if it gets forced into a court.

    1. Alumoi

      Re: Hmm...

      That's an easy one, same with any PC: you own the hardware and they own the software. You only get a licence for the said software and you must obey the rules written down in the license agreement.

      I know it's a tough one to swallow, but that's life.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Hmm...

        Then what about firmware: software IN hardware?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Microsoft patented extortion©

    "To survive in an increasingly mobile-first world, Microsoft needs the kind of regulatory intervention it fought so hard to avoid in the 1990s and 2000s"

    Do you mean, without owning the entire playing field, Microsoft are unable to compete.

    Microsoft, Samsung Settle Android Royalties Dispute

    Microsoft, Samsung Reach Agreement in Android IP Lawsuit

    Acacia has received millions from Microsoft and Samsung after ADAPTIX deal, report claims

  12. hellwig Silver badge

    Why is this Google's responsibility?

    So google wants to make things proprietary? Apple does this too, far more restrictively, and no one (i.e. Microsoft) complains when they can't put their own launcher on a phone. Where is the story about how Microsoft is going to start flashing iPhones in-store? NOWHERE!

    Now, just because parts of Android are open-source, doesn't mean Google is in any way responsible for making the open-source portion succeed. At least they contributed TO the open-source (unlike Apple that took the open-source (BSD) and ran with it).

    But no, somehow Google is the bad guy here. Now, I'm no apologist, the decisions Google makes annoy me and my wife to no end. Why do things have to change or disappear or be so user-unfriendly? I don't know. But if you don't like Google, you should just move.

    Oh wait, move to what? Apple and Google are your only two options here. Microsoft SHOULD have been a third option, but their own B.S. screwed them over and now they're complaining about how hard it is to work within Google's restrictions.

    Microsoft should take off where Cyanogen left off. You don't need Google Maps, you don't need Google Search, and you don't need the Google app store, right? After all, the biggest complaint is being locked-in to Google's services. So branch and create your own.

    OH, you WANT the Google services, you just want to use them to supplement your own, lacking services? You want people to use Bing search and Bing ads, but you NEED the power of the Google app store? Well, I'm sorry, but if you want that FOR FREE, you have to use Google's search and Google's ads. No free lunch!

    Microsoft. Cyanogen, and others want all the benefits of the powerful Google-sphere, without the costly membership fees.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: Why is this Google's responsibility?

      > Apple and Google are your only two options here. Microsoft SHOULD have been a third option,

      Microsoft killed Symbian/Belle, Microsoft killed Maemo/Meego (N9 and N950). Microsoft killed Nokia-X. Microsoft killed Asha. Microsoft killed Meltemi. Microsoft killed Windows Phone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is this Google's responsibility?

      Starting to sound like Microsoft are pro-Brexit, with that description!

  13. Bucky 2

    I'd have more sympathy for OEMs if they didn't made such a big deal about typing "make" every few months when there's a new Android update.

  14. James 51 Silver badge

    BB10, Win10, Jolla, there is a small graveyard of alternative mobile OSs out there, people for one reason or another just won't buy them and I wish they would. If there was a new 3310 with 4G and wifi hotspot build in I'd be sorely tempted and buy a small tablet for all the non-phone crap we use our phones for.

    1. zanto
      FAIL

      windows 8.1 for mobile phones

      Apart from the lack of developer love win 8.1 was quite a decent os. If only Microsoft persisted things could have been different. It was the little things like finger print support, proper email client, printer support that made me return to Android. They had a sweet os that ran like the blazes on lesser hardware, was secure, and had good battery life, not to mention those Lumia cameras were the best at the time. And they pissed it all away.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: windows 8.1 for mobile phones

        I thought it was the snooping that earned it most of the black marks. It almost makes you want to go back to a virgin Windows 7 install.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: windows 8.1 for mobile phones

        Win8/10 are the answer to "what if your input device is a joypad", works reasonably well on Xbox. Not so much fun anywhere else.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    beyond the obvious room for problems by mixing methods and standards

    its all very well being grumpy that Google also enforce look and feel standards, however the platform is clearly still far more popular for developers than Windoze.

    I really can't see the point of having a windows-like Android though. You either buy into one supplier stack or the other surely.

  16. fishman

    Updates

    So, if you have your phone modified by Microsoft, if the phone vendor comes out with Android security fixes or updates then are you out of luck? Will Microsoft come out with updates and fixes?

    If Microsoft would come out with updates and security fixes for the phones they modify, I'd jump on it in a heartbeat.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Updates

      There is a Microsoft-made launcher for Android that gets good reviews (especially of you're looking to get rid of some weird OEM launcher, a la Huaweii). I had a quick go with it on my cheap Huaweii, and it was good - though a little bit prescriptive about what you put where. IIRC it was based around calendar notifications.

      tl,dr - A Microsoft mod might be alright, and may well be better than whatever shit the OEM has loaded on the phone.

  17. Planty Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Not the same...

    "Google, which dominates mobile with a marketshare of over 80 per cent, imposes conditions on phone makers that are just as rigid. A phone is useless without Google's proprietary mobile services"

    There is a HUGE difference. Microsoft were imposing self imposed rules, the rule you mention isn't a rule at all, ANYONE can legitimately download Android source code, make their own distribution, and their provide their own set up features ontop of Android. The fact that few bother, is simply because the Google offerings are so good, you would need a bottomless pit of money to do so. Much like the amount of money Google has spent developing Docs, Maps, Gmail and so on, and providing them FOR FREE.

  18. Planty Bronze badge
    WTF?

    Interesting.

    Microsoft actually think someone want's their crappy services....

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Not the same...

      No, no, no. It's not just Google's apps and services (Gmail, Maps etc) that an AOSP build loses out on, but a load of proprietary Google APIs that they have been encouraging 3rd party devs to use for some time.

    2. Kristian Walsh

      Re: Not the same...

      The fact that few bother, is simply because the Google offerings are so good, you would need a bottomless pit of money to do so.

      No, that's not the reason.

      The fact that few bother is that access to the Android App Store is tied to accepting Googles other services too. There's no mix-and-match: it's all or nothing.

      If an OEM wants its customers to have access to apps, that OEM must agree to bundle all of Google's services as the default for their category.

      There's lots of OEMs who'd actually pay Google for the right to use the App Store in isolation, but for some reason, downloading and updating third-party software requires a phone that's running Google Docs and gMail too.. Google says everything is interconnected, which is odd, because the result of United States v. Microsoft said that this was a bullshit excuse nearly twenty years ago... and it's still a bullshit excuse today.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Not the same...

        "There's lots of OEMs who'd actually pay Google for the right to use the App Store in isolation, but for some reason, downloading and updating third-party software requires a phone that's running Google Docs and gMail too.. Google says everything is interconnected, which is odd, because the result of United States v. Microsoft said that this was a bullshit excuse nearly twenty years ago... and it's still a bullshit excuse today."

        Except there actually IS one thing tying them all together inextricably: Google Play Services. Without it, NONE of Google's apps work, full stop, and it's so internally interconnected that trying to extricate the stuff that's needed to run the Play Store without taking excess baggage along for the ride would be like asking Microsoft to open-source Windows 7: you'd have better luck forecasting a blizzard in the inferno.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not the same...

          Yet I can and do disable Google apps at will on my mobiles stock ROM. With the Aroma gapps installer I physically excise them on my tablets custom ROM. Nothing breaks - unless I nuke the services app.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Not the same...

            But the Services App the proverbial Eye of Sauron. It's the biggest problem in your entire setup. Unless you can kill the Services app (permanently), Google CAN and WILL continue to spy on you, even if you have nothing else installed.

    3. Zakhar
      Thumb Up

      Re: Interesting.

      Exactly, I was wondering if someone would ask that obvious question! Thanks.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not the same...

      There is certainty a huge difference.

      - Microsoft said with Windows - "You cannot change anything, ever. We decide everything including the price we are going to charge you to use an OS you must use. If you don't like it, write your own OS."

      - Google said with Android - "You can change anything you want except for these things (having a Google search bar, Play store to preserve compatibility, etc) because we are going to give away the OS for free and the search bar is our only means of monetization. If you don't like it, you are still welcome use our Android code, even to compete with us (e.g. Amazon Fire)."

      Incredibly different. Night and day.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boo fucking Hoo

    It was Microsoft themselves that queered the pitch for Windows Phone, with their cavalier approach to backwards compatibility which threw developers under the bus not once. Not twice. Not 3 times, but four fucking times. (Win CE->Windows Phone 6.5, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 7.5 ...)

    What makes it even more ludicrous, is generally I found Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 to be very slick and much nicer than Android.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Monopoly.

    Whilst it's convenient to think they are long suffering, they have only just lost their monopoly, suffering years of decline...

    http://www.androidpolice.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/nexus2cee_statcounter-android-windows-728x397.png

  21. Grunchy

    My solution: flip phone + psion gemini

    Because the Gemini is going to come able to run some sort of Linux, which is good. Good enough for me, anyway.

    If I ever need to telephone somebody, ohmigosh I can easily use any old flip phone. There's no OS and furthermore, instead of costing like $750 or whatever bonkers price, they're free.

    It can also serve as a wifi modem or whatever.

    Forgive me for observing, I don't need Microsoft nor Apple nor Google. I need none of the above for nothin'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft Monopoly.

      Yeah, MSFT still prints cash. And they are still the worst troll in tech. MSFT actually makes more cash on Android than Google, directly, because they patent shakedown all of the OEMs that make Android... as, according to MSFT, they are infringing on MSFT's mobile "innovations."

  22. gskr
    FAIL

    This effort seems doomed to fail before its even started.

    So If Microsoft has given up on running its own store, and accepted that most developers are likely only going to develop Android and iOS apps then why not just revive project Astoria, and pump out some more WM10 phones?

    WM10 is a great OS, however its lacking phones and Apps. Project Astoria solves the app problem (as it allows android apps to run on WM10 without modification). Add a few nice phones and you're in business, running all Microsoft's services and apps naively to boot.

    1. David 164

      Microsoft issue is that no one really wants to support two OSes on a single hardware platform.

  23. bjr

    Google has too little control not too much

    The problem with Google is that they exercise too little control not too much. If you want timely OS updates you are restricted to Googles own offerings, Nexus and now Pixel, if you want better or cheaper hardware then you are stuck with last year's Android OS and a layer of unwanted OEM customization's and duplicate services. It's not in Google's interest to challenge Microsoft's approach to providing and alternative ROM because all that will do is peak the interest of anti-trust authorities. This effort will fail because there is no compelling reason for a consumer to choose MS over Google's native services. If Google were doing a crappy job then there would be an opening, but they aren't. Google Maps are the gold standard in navigation and Google Assistant is as good or better than any alternative. It's great that MS is trying to compete because it keeps Google on their toes, but it's hard to see how they could possibly provide a full blown alternative.

  24. alpine

    Wierdly odd

    Despite Microsoft's constraints, HP did manage to provide some very odd WIndows machines. Nothing was ever quite the same as a normal windows installation. Very annoying to support.

  25. Bob Vistakin
    Pint

    Oh my sides

    Andrew - it's a rare skill indeed to write a piece in which each paragraph is funnier than the previous one, but you pulled it off admirably.

  26. tedleaf

    It would be nice to see he e.u hand down the same kind of punishments to Google as they did to ms years ago,but it probably won't,Google better at lobbying and bribes than ms where..

    It's about time Google got a good kicking from regulators somewhere,they have got away with their Hillsborough for far too long..

    1. David 164

      The reason they gotten away with it is because the regulators showed all their tricks when dealing with Microsoft and set down legal precedents, which Google has then gone through with a fine tooth comb and design there business to work with in those rules, which is why it has proven extremely difficult to nail Google on just about anything.

  27. David 164

    Does it matter whether it legal or not, all that matters is whether Google will tolerate it, and as long as it doesn't become to big, Google just might because it another example that there that companies can compete with Google if they want to. Things like Samsung own AI and Amazon efforts will also help to sell that if it ever reaches court.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Google.... imposes conditions on phone makers that are just as rigid."

    Are this a serious statement? You think Google's Android restrictions are as rigid as Microsoft's PC restrictions for OEMs?.... Not even close, Samsung can put a skin on an Android that makes it look wholly different than an LG which looks wholly different than a Moto. Do you think Microsoft would have allowed, or would allow today, Dell to make a Windows PC that hardly even looks like the version of Windows on an HP computer? Never. Not ever. Aside from charging them a fortune for Windows, that was the OEMs largest compliant with Windows. They couldn't differentiate, which meant PCs became a commodity and the only way to win was to be cheaper than the next company. The opposite is true of Android. Samsung charges the highest prices on the market with an OS that is available to all.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So MSFT's plan is to get users who buy a Samsung phone (who probably like Google, which is why they are buying an Android phone) to go down to the Microsoft store, wherever that is, and have Microsoft sell them a special Samsung Android with a bunch of 90s MSFT applications pre-installed. Then those users can go get a carrier contract.

    Why in the world wouldn't users just get a standard phone and then download MSFT applications if they want MSFT applications? They are all available in the Play store. It is not like Google is stopping anyone who wants to use MSFT from using MSFT... people just don't want it.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But an OS that still contains Google Play Services and all the associated baggage, even if Samsung wanted otherwise because without the Play Store and most of the apps like Maps/Navigation for which viable substitutes do not exist, Samsung would be severely handicapped. There's barely any market beyond the phones for non-Google devices as Amazon found out when they tried to make a phone (they've since given up and stuck to tablets which are becoming more niched).

  30. MrNigel

    Clever idea to increase Office 365 take-up

    I am all for it, anything that pre-installs Office apps on a device is a good thing as it means adding an Office 365 subscription is easy. I wonder if this android move has anything to do with the revamped K1 subscription announced a few days ago?

    See the bigger picture guys, all this historic stuff about the 90's, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft vs. the world, Nokia/Lumia disaster etc is great for El Reg coffee time reading, but of no relevance to any of us who actually work for MNOs selling devices and Microsoft Office 365 to the well informed masses around the world.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Clever idea to increase Office 365 take-up

      >anything that pre-installs Office apps on a device is a good thing as it means adding an Office 365 subscription is easy.

      Given that Office for Android (ie. Word, Excel, Powerpoint & OneNote) are already available from the Play store, there is nothing really stopping MS from visiting phone OEMs and giving them incentives to preinstall these app's on their devices, particularly if the rumours are true that MS has substantive revenues arising from their Android IP extortion racket...

      Interestingly, if you read the Mary Foley article, she says that is what will be happening...

      Likewise, there is llittle preventing a MNO from preinstalling apps...

  31. Windows8

    Sign me up for the MS Rom...google can pass off!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      So you just switch from having Google as Big Brother to having Microsoft as Big Brother?

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