Microsoft announced at its Build developer conference last year that Android would be an app type for the Windows Store. To help developers deliver such apps, Microsoft came out with Windows Bridge for Android, also known as Project Astoria, in a limited developer preview. Microsoft said Project Astoria would become available as a public beta last fall, but that never happened. Earlier this month, my colleague Emil Protalinski wrote that Project Astoria was “rumored to be all but discontinued.” Now we have the full story — a day after Microsoft announced that it had acquired cross-platform application development company Xamarin.
“We received a lot of feedback that having two Bridge technologies to bring code from mobile operating systems to Windows was unnecessary, and the choice between them could be confusing,” Kevin Gallo, director of program management for the Windows Developer Platform team for Windows 10 at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. “We have carefully considered this feedback and decided that we would focus our efforts on the Windows Bridge for iOS and make it the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to all Windows 10 devices, including Xbox and PCs. For those developers who spent time investigating the Android Bridge, we strongly encourage you to take a look at the iOS Bridge and Xamarin as great solutions.” Microsoft open-sourced the Windows Bridge for iOS, which became available on GitHub in August, and has been updating it on a regular basis, Gallo wrote. Meanwhile the Web Bridge for web apps was included in the Windows 10 software development kit (SDK) last year, while Project Centennial, aimed at porting Win32 and .NET apps to Windows 10, is currently being tested, with “an early iteration of the tools” coming soon, Gallo wrote.
Microsoft started building the bridges because it wanted to minimize the complexity of delivering apps for Windows. Ultimately, keeping developers happy launching apps on Windows translates into keeping end users happy and prevents them abandoning Windows to go to other platforms. So this is important stuff for Microsoft. It’s just that the company didn’t want to inadvertently fragment its Java and C++ developers across multiple tools.