At the 2015 BUILD developer Conference Microsoft demoed four application bridges that they hoped would improve the number of applications available for Windows 10 Mobile, which would benefit the Windows platform as a whole. The two most interesting showcases were Project Islandwood, which helps developers to port their Objective-C applications to Windows, and Project Astoria, a subsystem for running existing Android applications right on a Windows smartphone. Today it looks like the latter of those projects has officially met its end.

The death of Project Astoria won't come as a big surprise to those who have been keeping track of Windows 10 Mobile's development process since BUILD. Back in October of last year, preview builds of Windows 10 Mobile stopped including the Android runtime and there wasn't really any explanation as to why. Since that time, Project Islandwood has continued to be promoted by Microsoft while there hasn't been much news about Astoria. This led many in the development community to suspect that Microsoft had decided to kill the project, although there was no official confirmation until today.

In my view, the death of Project Astoria has both good and bad elements. Since it was essentially packaging Android applications to run on Windows 10 Mobile, the applications never fit in with the rest of the platform and so the question then became why you wouldn't just go buy an actual Android device. On the other hand, it did provide an easy way for developers and users to bundle up applications that didn't exist at all on Windows 10 Mobile, which would help fill the app gap in a less than optimal but usable manner.

According to Microsoft, the official reason for the death of Astoria is that developers felt that having two bridges from mobile operating systems was mostly redundant when their applications likely existed on both Android and iOS. With Microsoft's recent purchase of Xamarin, they may also be betting on developers creating applications in C# that can be deployed across Android, Windows, and iOS. In any case, Microsoft's bridges for Objective-C, JavaScript, and Win32 apps are still very much alive, but the prospect of easily bringing over Android applications to Windows 10 Mobile is gone.

Source: Microsoft Windows Blog

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  • Murloc - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    the most used apps are all good.
  • Murloc - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    most apps that have any level of usefulness and success also get developed for iOS quite soon, if you can port that to W10 mobile, then that's good enough. That android thing surely wasn't an optimal solution.
  • Dodge1350 - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    What's confusing to me is, they've had Xamarin for years to be able to port any application to all three platforms, but yet, Microsoft itself is releasing IOS and Android only Office applications... as a Windows 10 Mobile user, I know this first hand, because when you run into them, the hand must scratch the head. If you are promoting Xamarin to be what your developers should use, but don't use it yourself for the exact purpose you are telling developers to use it for, what does that tell your developers, the developer community and any end users who care to understand and comprehend this?
  • mr_tawan - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    While MS works with Xamarin for quite some time, they are not actually a single entity (until MS bought the company). Xamarin has business to operate, it offers Mono for iOS/Android for a price that might not be too compelling to everyone.

    To get developers on board, MS has to do something to attract those rather than just says "hey, you can use Xamarin's tool to port your apps to us", and ask them to pay $999 (per developer) annually to Xamarin which is the 3rd party. Also using Xamarin tools means rewritting the code. It's not like you have a iOS or Android app and use Xamarin to port it, rather you just have a common ground so people can write codes once and (hopfully) can use them accross platform (except for some UI-specific code, if I'm not mistaken).

    And, at $999 a year, is pretty high for a developer tool. IntelliJ offers a buffet of all tools they have at $649 a year (and the price would go down for each subsequence years). The cost of development plus the subscription fee would be enough to drive people away. MS has to come with a better plan, that's why they come up with those projects.
  • mr_tawan - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    Corrections, IntelliJ IDEA is a product. I'm refering to "JetBrains", when I mentioned that one.
  • milkod2001 - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    When i first bought Nokia Lumia 620 i was able to download great Youtube App from MS itself. As i have quickly discovered it was not app at all, it was just image with direct link to youtube website. I guess that app was ruining on Project MS LAMOs. This app might be still there.

    Project this , project that, bala bla bla if MS wants to get more market share than laughable 5% it should not only give developers options to port their app but also just simply pay best developers to make sure they will port their app. MS has more than enough $$$ to do so.

    With 5% market share it is just waste of time and money to bother to do any ports.
  • amb9800 - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    MS actually built a really nice YouTube client but was forced to take it down by Google, which opposes users accessing its products from Windows phones (see what they did with Google Maps on WP8). Nonetheless, MyTube and Perfect Tube on Windows Phone are better than Google's first-party YouTube apps on iOS and Android.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, February 27, 2016 - link

    Google refused to release their apps for the new Win runtime. So in the case of youtube MS made one themselves. The original MS-built YouTube app was great. They were later forced to trash it because Google actually BLOCKED the app from accessing content. I was around when this happened and saw it in action. One day, the app works great. The next, mysterious errors prevented you from playing anything. A quick search revealed Google was intentionally blocking the app.

    Hence the current inferior version was released that just directs you to the youtube mobile site. But as amb said, there's several good third party solutions.
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    what's funny: Google was/is fighting with Sun over Android being java. It isn't on the device, of course. Google takes the java/jvm bytecode and converts it to dalvik/ART code. M$ could have done the same: convert dalvik/ART to whatever.
  • Wolfpup - Friday, February 26, 2016 - link

    Huh...yeah, I guess that makes sense if they already have a route from iOS anyway.

    I just want Marvel Unlimited on both Windows Mobile and regular Windows...

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