What a time to be alive: Microsoft now has its own app store — on Google’s Android operating system.
You can download Microsoft’s new Android app store, fittingly called “Microsoft Apps,” from the regular old Google Play app store. It’s literally just a list of Microsoft apps for Android including Microsoft Office, Skype, and OneDrive cloud storage.
There’s not much to Microsoft Apps. As TechCrunch points out, it’s a handy way for users to find all their Microsoft apps in one place, but that’s all it is. It also doesn’t even seem to have any paid apps either.
But it could be the first sign of something big as Microsoft’s ties with the world of Android get tighter.
Just look at what Amazon did, and continues to do, with Android. First, in 2011, it launched the Amazon App Store, a rival app market, for Android phones and tablets. Then, in November of the same year, Amazon launched its first Kindle Fire tablet, which only had the Amazon App Store.
Microsoft probably isn’t ready for that drastic of a step: The company is, and remains, committed to its new Windows 10 Mobile operating system, despite a general lack of excitement or momentum. Even Steve Ballmer thinks that Windows phones need to run Android apps.
At the same time, though, Microsoft is obviously open to Android: Thanks to a partnership with Cyanogen, a company that makes its own specialised version of Android, you can use Microsoft’s Cortana as your virtual assistant, versus the built-in Google Now. Plus, some Cyanogen phones come preinstalled with Microsoft apps like the Office suite.
And so, this could just be the first, tentative step towards Microsoft getting into the Android market in a big way. It’s not hard to see how in the future there could be a Microsoft device, running Cyanogen, that allows you to install Android apps from a Microsoft app store.
And it’s another piece of the puzzle, if Microsoft is indeed building its own version of Android entirely.