Project Astoria – Windows Bridge for Android

Microsoft’s updated operating system Windows 10 was launched in 2015 to great acclaim. The latest Windows offering is designed with compatibility in mind, so the system links with a variety of devices. This cross-device functionality was first announced for Microsoft’s latest console, the Xbox One. Shortly after, news broke that Windows 10 was heading to the Windows Phone and to Windows’ tablet devices.

Most of Microsoft’s products have taken off in a big way, but it has taken time for the Windows Phone to establish itself in the marketplace. Windows 10 functionality is available on the flagship brand, Lumia. The Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL hope to take advantage of new technology and features and sell more units than previous models have managed – and that is where Project Astoria comes in.

 What is Project Astoria?

This project is part of a series of software bridges being created by Microsoft. This bridge network will allow a great range of platforms to interact at the same level, and help bring the full features of Windows 10 to every device you own. Your laptop, mobile phone and tablet will all work in the same way using the new technology, and this will open up a whole new set of options for software developers when it comes to applications and games.

Specifically, Project Astoria aims to emulate Android applications using Windows 10 technology. That means users will have the same high quality applications as Android users currently enjoy, without having to give up their Windows phone. It may also mean that Android apps are available for consoles or even PCs in the near future.

How is Project Astoria a game-changer for developers?

Until now, applications for Windows have been notably limited. While Android and Apple have stormed ahead in the mobile application market, developers have had little to do with the Windows Phone. The Windows Store has a selection of different tools and games for users to download, but it offers very few high profile programs. Some of the most in demand apps such as social media sites are available, but through a Windows interface that masks the mobile site. This leads to reduced functionality and a poor user experience.

Game developers and application developers will now be able to work directly for Windows 10, and produce new applications which work at their best. This should help Microsoft expand their store, and encourage the best developers to try out Windows 10 for their next project. According to Microsoft’s Terry Myerson, Project Astoria will mean that “developers can write apps that run on all Windows 10 devices and take advantage of native Windows features easily.”

What will Project Astoria mean for phone users?

Project Astoria’s cross-compatibility could bring new links to all Microsoft platforms and allow for a whole new interactive experience. Alongside application development, engineers could make use of Microsoft projects across the board. Cortana, HoloLens, Live Tiles, Xbox Live and Windows Achievements are all at the disposal of Astoria developers. Phone users may be able to expect more virtual and augmented reality apps, physical fitness programs, tracking services and more – all at the touch of a screen.

Microsoft Build 2015 and the software bridges

The team at Microsoft is focusing on technology that links together; so much of their current work is aimed in this direction. Project Astoria is one of four software bridges being created to address gaps in the Windows 10 coverage. Alongside Astoria, teams are hard at work on Project Westminster, Project Islandwood and Project Centennial.

Astoria differs from the other three projects in that it functions as an emulator – a subsystem within the phone running Android alongside Windows 10. Islandwood, Westminster and Centennial are dedicated to porting iOS, Web and Win32 applications respectively. Project Islandwood in particular is seeing great successes and has so far proved promising for development opportunities.

Is Project Astoria ready?

While Islandwood is storming ahead and making the most of Windows 10 features, Project Astoria is currently “on hold”. “The Astoria Bridge is not ready yet,” confirmed developers recently. The challenges of creating an emulator rather than redeveloping each Android app have so far proved very difficult, and as a result progress on the other bridges is moving much more quickly. As of now, we don’t know when Project Astoria will be back on the table – when progress is made, Microsoft will be sure to announce it quickly and get developers back on the case.

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