Astoria Cancellation Confirmed - Devs Advised To Try Xamarin
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 26 February 2016

Microsoft's Windows Bridge for Android aka Project Astoria, which was intended to give devs a way to port existing apps to the Universal Windows platform has been officially dropped.

This news comes in a post from Kevin Gallo on the Windows blog in which he refers to Microsoft's recent agreement to acquire Xamarin, which we reported in Microsoft Buys Xamarin - About Time Too.

The post provides an update on the Windows 10 Bridges announced at Microsoft Build Developer conference and makes explicit the fact that the Android Bridge is dead in the water, and that the iOS bridge, codenamed Islandwood is going to be the single Bridge option for bringing mobile code to Windows 10 devices, including the Xbox and PCs.

The rumor that Microsoft had abandoned Project Astoria had been circulating since November, see Microsoft's Astoria Android Emulation Might Not Happen, and Gallo attempts to explain the decision by saying:

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.

Well I don't know about you, but there seems to be no likelihood of confusion between a bridge that brings iOS apps to Windows and one that brings Android apps to Windows. And in what sense can a bridge that goes to a different place be unnecessary? This seems to be obfuscation.  

Gallo goes on:

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.

This also seems to be complete nonsense. If I have spent time investigating the Android bridge it is because I want to consider bringing my Android app to Windows, How could the iOS Bridge help? The reference to Xamarin isn't completely crazy but this is a way to create an app that runs on Windows, iOS and Android and doesn't help much with the problem of getting an existing Android app to run under Windows. 

More likely explanations for the curtailment of the project are legal reasons and the fact it was uneconomic and technically difficult. Between 60-80 people had been working on Astoria, compared to a team of 5 for Islandwood.

The approach to the two bridges was also very different. Astoria was attempting to create an Android environment that allowed Android apps to just run - i.e. without any source code modification. Building a complete Linux and Android subsystem within Windows is not a small undertaking and there are legal problems caused by including open source code in Windows. Even though Microsoft has an Android emulator that runs fast this isn't the same as being able to run Android apps in a window at native speed.

The Islandwood bridge on the other hand simply provides a recompilation environment that could be used to port existing iOS apps to Windows. It would have been much better to take the same approach to Android apps and allow them to be recompiled with a suitable support library. 

Now that Microsoft has Xamarin it might be that there is something in the new technology that can be used to make it easy to port existing Android and iOS apps to Windows, but at the moment the situation is a bit of a mess.

Microsoft now has two types of Universal Apps - its own and Xamarin's - with Xamarin's being slightly more Universal.

There is support in Visual Studio for creating Android apps in Java and C/C++, but no help to move these apps to Windows.

iOS apps have no support in Visual Studio, and almost certainly never will have given Apple's proprietary lock-in, but it does have help in converting them to run under Windows.



More Information

An Update on the Developer Opportunity and Windows 10

Related Articles

Microsoft Buys Xamarin - About Time Too

Microsoft's Astoria Android Emulation Might Not Happen

Microsoft's Islandwood Now On GitHub - An iOS Bridge To Nowhere?

Silverlight Bridge To UWP Apps       

Project Westminster - Another Web App Format

Why Should We Write Universal Apps When Microsoft Drops Them - Skype To Go Desktop Only

Android And iOS Apps For Windows 10


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Last Updated ( Friday, 26 February 2016 )