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Fun tidbit is it seems the original reason behind this was Android support in WinPhone10 but when that was axed they migrated it to Ubuntu on desktop.

If true that's a pretty nifty pivot.




Indeed, and the rumours are that Project Astoria worked too well which scared Microsoft. If Android apps "just worked" on Windows then why would developers bother using their new Universal Windows Platform.


That's a shame. I mean, I get the concern, but full Android compatibility would have done wonders to adoption, which is what their phone platform desperately needs. They could have always lured developers later with a substantially better UWP on top of it.


I don't believe it would drive adoption at all. Microsoft know Windows Phone today is dead. However they still have the desktop and with UWP they hope to bridge the development gap between mobile/tablet/desktop/laptop.

Had they shipped Astoria in Windows 10 to allow Android apps to "just work" it would have destroyed their UWP strategy.

So they might get a few more Windows Phone users but they would have lost control of the new development platform and given it to Google on a silver platter. And they would never have got anywhere near the numbers Android is at.

I would be shocked if Microsoft don't bring UWP to macOS, Linux and Android (I don't see how they can with iOS) in the not-too-distant-future.


> Had they shipped Astoria in Windows 10 to allow Android apps to "just work" it would have destroyed their UWP strategy.

Kind of like how OS/2 support of Windows applications helped destroy it?


The OS/2 2.0 fiasco is a lot more complex than this.


Yes, but being able to run Windows 3.1 apps on it, with Windows 3.1 look and feel, at a higher price than OS/2 (or Windows) alone sure didn't help it.


You know that MS did the old OS/2 2.0 SDK betas from 1990, right?


as far as i remember: the PC of the day was just too slow for OS/2 warp, and it didn't support the varied hardware of the day; am i wrong?


Yes, there is much more history to this fiasco than just this.


Regarding iOS, the purchase of Xamarin and the direction of their tooling could be made to bridge that gap as well... Not that it will, but very well could.

Would be nice to see Apps from VS running in Linux and macOS. There's been some effort that one assumes supports this direction... Also, all things to make Azure nicer to use and better as a target are in their long term interest.


Exactly, that is why they bought xamarin in first place. Xamarin was key product. They will push Xamarin as hard as they can in all platforms simultaneously and since they are biggest software company in planet, I see a bright future for Xamarin.


I agree, Xamarin is what will bring UWP to all the major platforms.

My question mark over iOS is because of how strict Apple are with approved apps. Will Apple like Microsoft bringing "app parity" into the iOS eco-system and more importantly will they allow it?


Isn't WP already dead? I've never met a single person using one.


I've had 920, 930 and I'm now using a 950 as my main phone: The hardware is superb, and I really like the OS (running Insider Preview Slow Ring). There has been a steady stream of Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview updates throughout the last year, bringing both new features and stability. In user interaction and interface consistency it is now much closer to iOS (or what iOS tries to be) than Android is.

That being said, it is pretty obvious it is a minuscule platform; apps are often lagging behind their iOS/Android counterparts, and there are some obvious ones missing (like Snapchat and Pokemon Go).

It is kind of sad really; I think it would be healthy with more than two major players, and Windows 10 users will probably feel quite at home in Windows 10 Mobile.


I tried using it for a year. Though the UI was polished, lack of apps was a big problem. For example, What's App Chrome WebApp support wasn't released for WP when the feature was launched. Even Audible and Kindle apps (considering these are from a major company like Amazon) on WP felt inferior to their Android counterparts. So just ended up buying an Android device around a year ago.


That's the saddest thing with my Palm Pre. It's a very refined UX without any current app support.


I have a Lumina 950 as a “second phone” for use with a local SIM when I travel, and honestly I love it.


I use it. I would rate it equally as high as the iPhone minus all the apps and apple craziness. And much better than android which I don't care for. I plan on getting the flagship 950xl Lumia when this 930 im on now breaks, if it ever does.


Which is really unfortunate.

I can't blame Microsoft for it, but the app-gap between WP/WinMo 10 and Android is getting untenable for me. I'm thinking about switching back, not because I think Android is better (I don't think it is at all), but simply because I'm starting to feel left out when all my family and friends are using, e.g., SnapChat to keep in touch and I...can't.

It particularly riles me up that there were perfectly functional third-party Windows Phone Snapchat apps, but Snapchat demanded that they be removed and still (evidently) declined to make a WP app.

Not to pick on Snapchat, it's not an uncommon story.

If I could even just download the Snapchat APK and sideload it on my Windows phone, that'd be enough for me. But I can't, since Astoria got killed.


There's a couple really good reasons why they can't do that, trademark, PR and user trust.

They need to defend their trademark, or it will be genericized. Not that that's a big deal, but it can be a thing.

More importantly, if the windows store is filled with crappy snapchat apps, it hurts their brand. If they release an update that breaks those apps, it hurts their brand. It's a no-win situation. Then there's hacks of third party apps, that are spun as being Snapchat's problem: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/01/tech/social-media/snapchat-hac...

Snapchat is in a particularly bad position for the last bit, because what they're selling is fundamentally a lie, and having that lie exposed hurt them a lot.


Can you explain what it is about the operating system that makes a big difference? I have a mix of Android and iOS devices and I really don't have a preference. I never sit down with my tablet to use Android, it's to see the Snapchat my daughter sent me or to play Sequence or to check my email.

Likewise I'll pick up my iPod touch when I want to listen to a podcast, browse Instagram, or use Find My Friends.

There are hardware differences that make me use one device for it's camera or more reliable bluetooth, but I don't really associate that with the operating system.

Do you use a Windows Phone device because of the operating system or because (for example) it has an excellent camera or does something special with your XBox?


Sure. There are a couple things. Some of them may be be pretty petty, and some of them are something you can get in Android but aren't that way out of the box.

- app organization. One swipe and I'm looking at an alphabetized list of apps I can jump to by letter. This is huge to me, so much easier to find and identify an app versus a 2d grid dominated by icons.

- live tiles. My email tile shows me unread emails, photo tile shows pictures, calendar shows appointments, etc. Small thing but makes life a little simpler and makes my home screen look nice.

- settings are organized and laid out in what seems to me to be a much cleaner and logical way. I think this may have regressed some in win 10.

- maps are offline by default. Saves on data and helps out a lot when going through poor signal areas, which I do a lot.

- Cortana is super awesome, ime works better than google now.

- I can deny apps individual permissions.

- OneDrive integration. I didn't use OneDrive prior to buying the phone but since it was auto installed on my win computers i started using it and its very convenient.

A lot of it just all the minor usability and ui struggles just aren't there. To me it's a lot more polished and easy to use. I may have bad taste. :)


One drive doesn't sync files the way dropbox or gdrive do and it's super annoying. Cortana is no better than Siri or Now in that it basically just sets a timer or dials a contact and everything else in my experience is chock full of irrelevant links and spamming listings. The one thing I actually appreciate with Windows 10 in particular is that the Weather Live tile is good and doesn't have Accuweather or the Weather Channel banner ads in it. I am glad they went with just giving you with weather. My LG tablet's weather app is a banner ad crapfest and my iPhone's weather app is pretty much useless by comparison. Why can't everyone just show me whether it's going to rain in the next 15 minutes without subjecting me to ludicrous ads. Seriously. Thank you Windows for that at least.


The HTC Sense weather app manages to do that, despite using Accuweather as the data source. There's just a little "Accuweather - more details online" bar at the bottom of the screen, but I've never felt the need to actually follow it.


What do you mean it doesn't sync the files the way they do? Can you explain?

If I take a picture on my phone, it syncs to my laptop and desktop. If I put something on my computer in my OneDrive folder photo folder, it shows up in the photos on my phone.


Well the main problem I had with One Drive, which is why I started using Google Drive and Dropbox exclusively was this issue: https://onedrive.uservoice.com/forums/262982-onedrive/sugges...

You share a folder, update a file and then the other person does not get the update to that file, so then they are sitting there on the phone with you saying "no I don't see the updated file" and you have to have them login to the web version and basically download the file to their one drive. That happened to me several times and I just gave up on One Drive. I don't know if they fixed that. Yes, it syncs things for YOUR folders but it will not sync things to shared folders.


- maps are offline by default. Saves on data and helps out a lot when going through poor signal areas, which I do a lot.

Note that Here maps with offline maps is also available on iOS and Android:

https://pages.here.com/app/


- solved by any launcher

- solved by any launcher

- cannot comment

- gmaps handles this automatically

- cannot comment

- baked into android since L

- gdrive

Nearly usability and UI struggles are easily solved with a custom launcher.


- solved by any launcher - solved by any launcher

Then you have never used Windows Phone. None of the Android launchers provides the equivalent of WP tiles with the same amount of integration. There is no API that launchers could use to pull out the same amount/types of information.

- gmaps handles this automatically

Nonsense. It does some prefetching, but if you are in another country (no data) and you go slightly off-route, there is no maps coverage anymore. Luckily, new versions of Google maps allow you to download offline maps ahead of time as well.

For me the reason to switch if I was still on WP is that the app state is so deplorable that even Microsoft's apps on iOS and Android are miles ahead of WP's counter parts.


"There is no API that launchers could use to pull out the same amount/types of information."

What's missing in Android compared to WP in this regard? I have widgets on my Android homescreen that has buttons to activate app functionality (e.g. Audible's 'play' button) and that dynamically update their content. Is there some richer interactor or viewing scheme wp supports?


Interestingly enough, Microsoft actually has an Android Launcher called Arrow. It's not an attempt of bringing the WP experience to Android though.

That said, it's a great launcher and I use it on my Note 4. I still don't fully understand the strategy behind why Microsoft released it though.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft....


You should probably look at OSM (eg. OSMAnd, but there are others). I just download the whole country map before I visit somewhere.


I use OSM on my Garmin GPS for hiking/cycling, especially when Garmin's maps for a particular country are overly expensive.

http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl


HERE maps for android is pretty nice - ar least for traveling in europe there is a very good ui for downloading regional maps and it performs offline routing pretty well.


Which I didn't deny, prefacing my comment by saying that some of the items I was about to list could be done in Android, but aren't that way out of the box.

Customizability is great, and I think a phone OS should be highly customizable. But I also want it delivered to me in a state where I have to do as little customization as possible. I don't want to fool with it more than I have to.

Can you comment further on google maps doing that automatically? I have not seen it to be the case that I can turn off data, input a destination, and get turn-by-turn directions the whole way.

I am fully aware of Google Drive, but the reason I started using OneDrive is because it is already installed on all my Windows computers; all I had to do was sign in. The same is not true of Google Drive. I take a picture with my WP and by the time I walk over to the computer it's already there, and I didn't have to do anything to set it up.

Also, regarding permissions, no, it was "added" early on, but you couldn't use it without downloading other apps and then without rooting your phone. I think it's supposed to be in Marshmellow for-real-this-time, but I haven't seen it yet.


It feels to me that, with the kernel emulation in place, a third party can now step in to provide reasonable Android emulation on top of that. I mean, unless Android uses kernels with some custom syscalls, it should be usable, right? Now it's a question of recreating the userspace on top of that. I would imagine that many pieces would just fall in naturally, while others (most things to do with UI) would probably require rewriting to properly integrate with the Windows desktop... but it's still doable.


But do the potential users on the PC really need anything more than

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

or

http://www.androidauthority.com/best-android-emulators-for-p...


They probably don't, but I suspect that using WSL would significantly improve performance. In fact, it's probably one of the existing vendors of products like BlueStacks that will eventually do so.


Honestly I use the app-gap as a feature. Not having the fluff is great because snapchat is making people illiterate. We went from real words to abbreviations to no words and minimal attention span.

On the other hand now that Uber and bank of america have a universal app it feels more complete.


Missing "fluff" is not the problem. The problem is this: When the next killer app comes out, whatever it is, you may want to use it -- but it is very unlikely to be available on Windows Phone.


However, want and need are very different. I may desire an app, but not having it can make me better off. For instance, look here at the selfie deaths:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_selfie-related_injurie...

This may seem ridiculous but that's what these apps are doing to people. :)


Interesting attitude. People kill themselves with toasters too. Would that dissuade you from using one?


Are you really trying to defend less choice?


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!


More like, when life gives you lemons, criticize the intelligence of people who have apples.


Why the downvote? This is a legit and conscious comment


Some person doesn't like Snapchat. Their dislike of Snapchat and inability to install it on their phone due to choice of platform has absolutely nothing to do with, and absolutely no influence on what phones other people buy or what apps they install on it.

I have an Android phone and it doesn't have Snapchat on it. I also have friends with varieties of phones, and Snapchat, and they're very intelligent. It's donwvoted because it's a pointless "get off my lawn comment" that says nothing other than "I look down on all Snapchat users".


It's unlikely that the absence of snapchat on Windows phone will improve literacy.


Snap chat on android is also horrible.


Besides, Astoria will lead to a second-rate UX for Windows Phone (WP) as Android apps on WP are coded as per Android UX guidelines, not WP UX guidelines.

If Microsoft is building a framework, I'd expect it to provide a great UX for their users.

If a compatibility layer is required, it would be better for MS users to have it in the reverse direction, to let WP apps run on Android, and use that to try to convince devs to build WP apps.

In summary, it never made sense for MS to provide WP users (their own platform!) with a second-rate UX.


I don't think average user cares as much about uniform UX experience as they would from just being able to use the app. Example: Pokemon GO uses totally it's own UX on iOS and Android and that does not seem to harm it's popularity.

I would claim 'nice ux' is something that would not drive market adoption nearly as much as other factors (value, usability in general, etc).


I haven't played Pokemon Go, but it's fine for apps to use their own custom theme. What's not fine is to use one OS's theme on another OS, like an Android app on WP.

I see where you're coming from when you say that nice UX is not the most important thing, but a poor UX comes in the way of usability. The conventions users are used to no longer work, which comes in the way of using the app for its intended purpose. UI that doesn't fit might also cause users to pause and reorient themselves, again distracting them from their goal.

For example, wall switches in India are on when pressed downward, as opposed to upward in the US. Either works, but if the switches are different from room to room in your house, it's confusing.


Isn't that basically happened to IBM when they emulated Windows in OS/2? Devs didn't bother to build anything for OS/2.


That wasn't the only reason that OS/2 had been killed. I have used OS/2 2.11 and OS/2 Warp and OS/2 was truly a better Windows than Windows.

There were many other factors that killed OS/2. Just before Warp was released, it was quite hyped in the press. The then unreleased Windows 95 was considered to be a train wreck and OS/2 a true 32-bit operating system. However, once people got their hands on Warp, it turned out that the installation was difficult unless you had hardware that was covered by the relatively small driver base. Moreover IBM didn't really seem to care about supporting OS/2 for end users. So, much of the enthusiasm evaporated even before Windows 95 was released.


Companies focus on iOS and Android on mobile and Win32 and macOS, sometimes Linux, and many apps are nowadays web apps. Look at the Windows store, for years it is a wasteland with just a few good apps and lots of junk. WinRT/UniversalRT has too many downsides and no major benefits compared to Win32. Even PC gamers prefer Steam with normal Win32 games and are better of with sticking to it. WinStore is a trainwreck. Their WinPhone10 already failed spectacularly with decreasing smartphone OS market share of around 1% world wide. I can imagine that Microsoft might improve the Win32 touch support (a UI theme with larger buttons) and add Win32 support to their mobile next Win mobile OS. Running (legacy) Win32 apps would certainly on mobile would be huge for enterprise customers. Attaching a phone to a monitor and place a Bluetooth keyboard in front and you would have a full PC that you can carry around in your pocket. Whereas their current continuum desktop is just a bad joke and doesn't fulfil the vision at all (just a desktop background where only Office works no other third party PC applications)!


>Indeed, and the rumours are that Project Astoria worked too well which scared Microsoft. If Android apps "just worked" on Windows then why would developers bother using their new Universal Windows Platform.

This is categorically false. You only need to visit the windows phone reddit to see all of the complaints on how poorly implemented it was, how it affected the performance of the phone and the app compatibility issues.

Microsoft's attempt to put Android apps on windows phone and their harebrained idea to replace Google services with their services, within the app, were all failures and not because it would have cannibalized their native apps, but rather they just couldn't pull it off.


One of the videos I watched on their blog they mentioned this ability has been here since NT. They said something like "we just brushed the dust off of it and it worked".

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/wsl/


I think it was called Project Astoria.




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