Microsoft’s New Android Invasion Has Started – Forbes
Following on from Joe Belfiore’s announcement that Windows 10 For Mobile has been effectively killed (security updates and patches will continue, but there will be no new features added), there has been a renewed online interest in Redmond’s mobile software.
This has been helped by two major software announcements last week that potentially pushes Microsoft’s mobile vision into the hands of hundreds of millions of consumers.
The first is the upgrading of the Arrow launcher to the pithily named Microsoft Launcher. Born in the ‘skunkworks project’ of the Microsoft Garage two years ago, Arrow has now matured from being a way to launch an app towards your personal cloud portal. Part of that is down to a feature similar to Apple’s ‘Hand-Off’ feature that links iOS and macOS… with the Microsoft Launcher you can tap documents on your smartphone and have them open on your Windows PC. As well as the shared documents the launcher features a timeline of events including images, calendar appointments, messages, and important news.
The second is the beta release of the Edge Browser for Android (and iOS). This builds on the idea of handing off information from the mobile web browser to the desktop and back again including readings lists, favourites, and history. The mobile version of Edge is not as developed as the Launcher, it’s not yet possible to have tabs synced between devices but this is being worked on.
The Arrow launcher started with a minimal feature set and is now relatively advanced. No doubt the Edge browser will do the same over time. Microsoft has made the decision to launch with a limited feature set but to gather more user data. It also has the benefit of staking out Microsoft’s mobile territory as the focus shifts from the previous OS-led approach of Windows 10 Mobile to the cloud-based approach.
Of course the apps full functionality is only unlocked when a user is signed in with their Microsoft account, but part of Microsoft’s mobile strategy is to get as many people engaged with their own cloud-based services alongside the forced smartphone choice of a Google Account (on Android) or an iCloud account (on iOS).
The launcher and the browser are key parts of a smartphone experience, and with Android’s open nature it’s the best platform for Microsoft to embrace and extend.