Microsoft Admits Android is the Best Operating System for Mobile Devices
Microsoft just announced its first convertible/fold-able smartphone and what surprised the most than its revolutionary design is the operating system it runs on. Panos Panay – the chief product officer for the Microsoft Devices group – recently admitted that the company is using Android in its upcoming Surface Duo phone at an event at Microsoft’s flagship store in London. He went on ahead to state that it was doing so because, quite simply, the “best OS for this product is Android”.
This comes as a huge surprise especially since previously launched smartphones from Microsoft ran on Windows mobile. As we all know, Android is led by Google which is inevitably one of Microsoft’s biggest rivals. Microsoft previously tried its luck with its own mobile operating system – Windows mobile. However, due to the lack of high-quality apps and other factors, the OS could not stand the test of time.
Even though we might never see the Windows 10 mobile again, it was bold of Microsoft to go the Android way especially in this rapidly booming smartphone industry, not forgetting it’s the start of a new era of fold-able smartphones and tablet hybrid devices. Panay went further ahead and added “we wanted to meet customers where they were… and they were with Android.”. This only confirms that Microsoft is not willing to let history repeat itself.
Bill Gate’s Opinion
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said letting Google’s Android platform become dominant was his “biggest mistake” at the company. Through its 44-year history, the Windows desktop operating system has been a fundamental piece of Microsoft, but Microsoft failed to reach a leading position in mobile operating systems. It trails behind Google and Apple but Windows still remains a core contributor of their revenue and profit. Microsoft has shifted its focus towards cloud infrastructure and applications, abandoning the mobile platform business.
Speaking at an Economic Club of Washington luncheon to David Rubenstein, he had these remarks:
“We’re in the field of doing operating systems for personal computers. We knew the mobile phone would be very popular, and so we were doing what was called Windows Mobile. We missed being the dominant mobile operating system by a very tiny amount. We were distracted during our antitrust trial. We didn’t assign the best people to do the work. So it’s the biggest mistake I made in terms of something that was clearly within our skill set. We were clearly the company that should have achieved that, and we didn’t. We allowed this Motorola design win, and therefore the software momentum to go to Android, and so it became the dominant non-Apple mobile phone operating system globally.”
When mobile computing was taking off, the Microsoft CEO at that time was Steve Ballmer and not Gates. However, Gates has still held an important role at Microsoft as the Chief Software Architect from 2001 through 2008 and Chairman of the Board until 2014.
Gates went to say “The antitrust case probably accelerated my retirement by five or six years, which, overall for me, probably was a good thing”. He said that in Microsoft’s early years, he bragged about not having an office in Washington D.C., and he has since come to regret making that decision.
Android or Windows?
When Microsoft unveiled the two new fold-able devices (Surface Duo and Surface Neo), they announced that they are expecting to start shipping at the end of next year. Fans were confused at why Windows decided to use Windows OS on the bigger Surface Neo and use Android on the smartphone-sized Surface Duo.
The difference between Surface Neo and Surface Duo According to Windows
Even though these two devices look similar externally, they are two very different devices. One is a PC while the other is a smartphone, hence, there are different form factors at their core.
It all boils down to size factor as one should use the correct OS on the right size form factor. Anything smaller than 8 inches should run on Android and anything bigger than 8 inches should run on Windows. As time has shown, Android works best on smaller devices while Windows does better on big ones.
Surface Neo runs on Windows 10X because it is a relatively big device that lets one do PC-related activities on it. Unfortunately for Windows fans, Windows has no ecosystem on screens smaller than 8 inches, therefore, not making it the best platform for a phone. Android has mobile apps which have been specially designed for small screens. Windows, on the other hand, majorly has PC apps, which are designed for much larger screens, and therefore, don’t run well on phones.
Smartphones Need Apps
Microsoft seems to be steering away from calling the Surface Duo a phone, but in real sense, that’s what it is. To be successful in the smartphone industry, the Windows Duo needs apps. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t have mobile apps. It functions better at having PC apps which work best on larger screens, even those that have dual screens.
Android has a huge ecosystem of mobile apps and apps are the major priority for devices carried in the pocket. The major reason Windows mobile failed was because of the unavailability of apps. It had some but not as satisfying as Android. If Windows was to use Windows 10X on the Surface Duo, the device would lose out on the wide ecosystem of apps that a smartphone requires.
The beauty of the Microsoft ecosystem is that it’s cross-platform. For Microsoft to adopt Android, it only means Windows fans are about to have a better cross-device experience with their “Android” phone.