Microsoft cancels its Android-on-Windows project — now, officially
At its Build developer conference last year, Microsoft announced four "bridges" designed to help developers bring applications into the Windows Store. Three of these are still around: "Westminster" for porting Web apps, "Centennial" for Win32 apps, and "Islandwood" for iOS apps. But the company confirmed on Thursday that the fourth bridge, "Astoria," intended to help bring Android apps to Windows, is no longer in development.
Early builds of Windows 10 Mobile included a version of Astoria that largely succeeded in enabling Android apps to be run on Windows phones. But last November, the Android layer was quietly removed, with Microsoft saying that it was "not ready yet."
Thursday's announcement suggests that it's never going to be ready. The company writes, rather peculiarly, that choosing between Astoria and Islandwood "could be confusing" and that having two systems for porting non-Windows applications was "unnecessary." Accordingly, Islandwood is the only bridge, and Astoria is being abandoned.
The company is instead positioning the newly purchased Xamarin as the best solution for Android developers. The Xamarin value proposition is different, however. Astoria enabled Android apps written in Java to run on Windows, sometimes with no modifications at all. Xamarin allows developers to share a large proportion of their code between Android, iOS, Windows, and beyond, but it requires that all that code must use .NET, and typically C#.