Microsoft and Android: If you can't beat 'em, out-app 'em?

Is Microsoft looking to Android vendors like Cyanogen and Samsung to give the Redmond company a leg up in the mobile space?
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

There have been a lot of rumors about what Microsoft plans to do if it can't gain traction against Android.

Sources have said Microsoft's Plan B is to run Android apps on Windows. Microsoft is continuing to build out the capability to run Android apps on Windows and Windows Phone, sources say, though there's no guarantee as to when or even if the company will make this capability commercially available.

But maybe there's yet another plan (Plan C?) in Redmond for finding away around Android's mobile dominance. And that plan might involve building a collection of solid Android apps and services and then striking deals with Android partners to get them to preload Microsoft's Android offerings in their operating system platforms.

One of the first hints of this potential Plan C emerged along with renewed rumors that Microsoft had invested in Cyanogen. Bloomberg reported at the time that Microsoft was interested in investing in the mobile OS vendor in the hopes that Microsoft's Android services and software might be considered as an alternative on that particular distribution.

Now there's talk that Samsung might be considering a similar arrangement.

When Microsoft and Samsung announced earlier this week that they'd settled their contract dispute involving Samsung's payment of Android patent royalties to Microsoft, the guessing games began as to what the terms of that settlement entailed.

I saw some industry watchers wondering whether the hush-hush agreement meant Samsung might have signed on to become on of Microsoft's new Windows phone and/or tablet OEMs.

But there's a new, somewhat more plausible possibility --based on a rumor from the SamMobile.com site (which covers "everything for your Samsung Mobile").

SamMobile claims the Galaxy S6 will remove pre-installed Samsung apps like S Voice, S Health, S Note and Scrapbook. These will be replaced by Microsoft apps like OneDrive, OneNote, the new standalone Office mobile apps and Skype.

(And, who knows, maybe one day some of Microsoft's newer ones, such as Sunrise calendar and Outlook -- a k a Acompli -- too.)

I have no idea if the SamMobile information is correct, but the concept is believable.

In both the Cyanogen and Samsung cases, the thinking is Microsoft is a less dangerous competitor than Google. Shared Google fear and hatred makes for once-unthinkable alliance partners.

What do you think, readers? If Microsoft is pursuing this Plan C approach, will the pluses outweigh the potential negatives?

Editorial standards