Watch how Microsoft lets developers easily turn Android apps into Windows apps

Porting an Android or iOS app to Windows looks easy if this video showing how Project Astoria works is any indication. Is Microsoft over-promising to developers?

At its Build conference this week, Microsoft dropped a bombshell: Windows 10 will run Android and iOS apps. Whether or not that's a good idea is a highly debatable topic. On the one hand, it will close any real or perceived mobile app gap but on the other hand, it could discourage programmers to make native Windows apps.

Either way, it's an impressive and ambitious undertaking. Called Project Astoria, the Universal Windows Platform Bridge tool is advertised at letting developers re-use much of their code from other mobile platforms. And after watching this video demonstration of how it works for Android apps, it appears that Microsoft is making it as easy as possible.

Obviously, Google's core services outside the AOSP, or Android Open Source Project, are licensed, so an Android app running on Windows that uses them could be in a bind. Or perhaps not, based on the video: With a one line code change, Microsoft shows how to switch an app from using Google Maps to Bing Maps. By creating competing services over time to what Google and Apple offer then, Microsoft can bring similar experiences to these ported apps.

The toolkit also identifies what changes will need to be made to an existing app for another platform if a developer wants to port it to Windows. Dragging the current Android or iOS code into the Universal Windows Platform Bridge toolkit causes some preliminary analysis to take place and guide developers to what code requires tweaking.

This brief video only shows a high level look, of course, and the devil's in the details. Once Project Astoria goes widespread -- it's currently in a limited developer preview -- I'd be curious to hear from Android and iOS programmers if they plan to use it, and if so, how much of the heavy lifting Microsoft has done to ease the transition.

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