Windows Phone and Android to meet in 'Normandy'?

Windows Phone and Android to meet in 'Normandy'?

Summary: A Nokia Android phone running a Windows Phone interface and Microsoft services might not be as outlandish as it might initially sound.


A Nokia handset running Android -- something many first believed to be a mock-up or a test model -- may, in fact, be a real product that potentially could see the light of day.


More leaked images of the alleged Nokia 'Normandy' handset have been hitting the Web as of late. The most recent, posted on January 16 by @evleaks, shows an operating system that looks very much like the Windows Phone interface grafted onto Android, as one of his screen shots above indicates.

The thinking, supposedly, is Normandy would be a good entry-level phone for emerging markets. Tom Warren at The Verge said he's heard from one source that the device will sport a 4-inch display, a Qualcomm S4 processor, 4 GB of storage and 512 MB of RAM. I've heard from one source of my own that Normandy is running a custom version of Android built on the Android Open Source Project code base. The screen shots from @evleaks make it appear it will run Nokia's Camera, Here maps, Skype and other Windows Phone services.

Doubters have wondered why Nokia -- a company that's made an almost wholesale bet on the Windows Phone OS (with the exception of the Asha platform) , and whose handset business is in the process of being absorbed by Microsoft -- would build anything with Android inside. 

This kind of hybrid OS might be a way to introduce new users to the Windows Phone interface with less transition pain. Or it could be just one example of a handset that could run either Android or Windows Phone. Microsoft reportedly has discussed with other phone makers the feasability of allowing carriers and/or users to choose between Android and the Windows Phone OS on the same handset, both I and some others have heard from various sources.

Earlier reports seemed to indicate that Microsoft might have been proposing to handset makers that they provide users with a dual-boot Android/Windows Phone OS option, which seemed ludicrous bordering on suicidal to me. But an Android OS variant which looks and feels like a Windows Phone OS sibling or cousin -- as wild as that sounds at first -- actually makes more sense strategy-wise for Microsoft, in my opinion.

Think about it: Microsoft wants to be a devices and services company. If you buy a handset that runs at least some Microsoft services and apps, Microsoft is guaranteed to earn at least some revenues from that transaction. If a user foregoes Windows Phone as it stands now in favor of an iPhone or Android phone, Microsoft will likely make far less from that potential customer. Of course, Microsoft's preference would be for that handset to be all Microsoft, with a pure version of Windows Phone OS inside. But an Android core with Microsoft apps and services is the next best thing, isn't it?

On a related note, Microsoft seemingly is continuing with its practice of providing handset makers with marketing monies to help them spread the Windows Phone gospel, as Microsoft Corporate Communications Vice President Frank Shaw acknowledged in a tweet this week. (The size of the sums and the purposes to which they are being put is the source of various rumors and debate.) 

Do you think Microsoft is going to allow this Normandy handset to come to market? I'm increasingly thinking the answer is yes. And I'm starting to think that Normandy may not be the only Android/Windows Phone hybrid handset we see in 2014. What's your take?

Update: GigaOm's Kevin Tofel has a good post which posits that the OS powering the Normandy handset is basically the replacement OS for the S40 powering Asha.  Good food for thought.

Topics: Windows Phone, Android, Cloud, Microsoft, Nokia, Smartphones


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Yuck

    I hope not... Even for emerging markets.

    Why would MSFT release a product running a competing OS? What kind of message would that send to consumers? Some pundits are already having a field day with Windows 8 - this would be more fuel to their fire.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • you mean like Office for Mac?

      • Thats the other way round

        For Nokia though..Nokia = Mac and Android= office.. Office for mac is the opposite.
        • what?

          you just made my head hurt.
        • Cylon stated, and I quote,

          "Why would MSFT release a product running a competing OS?" Microsoft and its subsidiaries have a number of products running on Mac OS, Linux (SURPRISE!), iOS, and Android, some of which have never become things for Windows or Windows Phone/Mobile/CE.

          Microsoft, like any profitable company, understands that you have to follow the money. While it might be too late for Office to take a substantial foothold on non-Microsoft mobile devices, that doesn't mean they can't sell a few XBox titles, utilities, and other goodies for those devices.
      • Office started out on the Mac OS

        Because windows came out After Word.
        I hate trolls also
        • Office released on Windows first

          "Office" was released on Windows first. The first versions of Word were not part of an office suite. "Office" didn't exist back then. The first versions of Word were created for MS-DOS before the MAC.
          • Word and Multiplan were on DOS first, but...

            But the first real set of GUI Office apps were Word, Multiplan and Chart on the Mac (released with the original 1984 Mac). Multiplan and Chart eventually merged into Excel (on the Mac).

            Then Word and Excel showed up on Windows. After v2 on Windows, v6 (which followed the Mac numbering) sync-ed up the capabilities of the Mac and Windows apps. If I remember correctly, "Office" became a product in 1995 with the release of 32-bit Windows 95 and Office 95.
          • Word yes

            But the Office package was a Mac only product in the beginning. Go research this for yourself.
          • No friend, no...

            Office as a product package was started with Windows, but the concept and product was started on the Mac by Apple, which called it the Macintosh Office, of which, Word and Excel were key products, but also included PageMaker, LaserWriter and AppleShare.

            The only Windows unique product from current Office is PowerPoint. Outlook is not really office (as Surface RT confirmed us) but Office Professional, just like Access, Visio and Project.
          • Actually ...

            ... whe first version of MS Office was released in 1989, for the Mac: h t t p : / / w w w

            The first office suite for PCs (loosely defined to include non-x86/non-Windows) was made by Apple, but for the Apple Lisa. It was inspired by the software on the Xerox Star, which is where the whole idea of an integrated, graphical office suite originated.
        • Microplan on Mac

          Needing to publish a GUI spreadsheet in early days, the prototype for Excel was executed for Macintosh: Microplan in 1984
          John Donohue
          • whoops...

            I meant Multiplan, not microplan
            John Donohue
        • Word started out as an MSDOS product

          Windows may have come after Word, but MSDOS came before Windows and the first versions of Word were for MSDOS.
      • Apple before microsoft

        Microsoft actually released Office apps on Apple before they released them on Windows.
      • What is interesting

        About the history of Microsoft Office is that it was originally a Mac only product.
    • Non-techy, non-geeky users care not which OS is under the shell.

      Microsoft has been transforming itself into a hardware and services company. So why not also offer Android devices to consumer. It can rule the enterprise desktop with Windows and attack the consumer handheld using Android. The OS is less and less important when the services are actually in the cloud. The OS is now merely the interface to the cloud. It should be possible to swap out OSes and the user should not know any difference.
      • Yes, they do.

        I know many people who will avoid iOS, for whatever reason, likewise Android, and likewise Windows.

        They know, and they care.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • No they don't.

          Non-techs, non-geeks may think they don't like "iOS" or "Android", but really it's the experience they dislike or like. 99% of users who are not IT folks, don't even think of their smartphone as computing device let alone consider the "OS". All they know is that an Apple device behaves a certain way and and Android or Windows device behaves another way. They are not aware of the OS. Anyone who is actually aware of the operating system falls into the techy or geeky camp, not the ordinary consumer camp.
          • What?

            You just contradicted yourself:

            " All they know is that an Apple device behaves a certain way and and Android or Windows device behaves another way."

            Then you go on to say:

            " They are not aware of the OS."

            So, yes, they do know what OS they are running.
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion