Or if you can’t beat them, join them?
Microsoft has been in a drive to make many of its coveted apps available on the Android app store, a counter intuitive move. Some pointed out it would hurt the competitiveness of windows Mobile, as all the great apps on Windows Mobile can be found elsewhere. The company is determined in its effort, it even has two different lockscreen apps on the store! Lately, the company seems to be losing focus on its own mobile offering, Windows 10 Mobile. we then tend to wonder if they are still focused on Windows Mobile, or on conquering android.
A Microsoft Experience
Microsoft has a rather long list of UI focused apps on the play store. The apps combined will truly offer a Microsoft feeling, albeit closer to Windows 7 (It’s not tiled!). Cortana, the virtual assistant, has found her way to Android too. She even has deep integration features like Voice Activation on the Cyanogenmod roms, and is ready to answer your questions. And lighten up your day, too.
Arrow Launcher is their take on the home screen customization. It is a pretty solid offering, and spots 5 home screens. The ‘home’ screen offers a few apps on the bottom row, and the rest of the screen is filled with a grid of the most used apps. Sadly, only the bottom row can be customized, as the grid is determined by the launcher itself. The other screens consist of a recent apps screen, notes and reminders, a widgets screen and an alphabetical list of all applications.
On the lock screen front, there are two offerings. A slightly limited functionality beauty Picturesque and the Next. The Picturesque LockScreen, as its name seems to suggest, is focused on pulling in pictures from Bing. The Next Lock Screen, on the other hand, focuses on functionality. The Next has a bottom row of icons that can be expanded by a swipe upwards to show a row of widgets. The bottom row shows different icons based on automatically triggered profiles home, on the go and work. Both lock screens feature an integration with notifications, and the next also shows media player controls when playing music. Anyone can compare this to the functionality Microsoft offers on its own platform, and make their own verdict.
Microsoft Garage even released an alarm clock app for android. The app is Mimicker Alarm, available on the play store. The app forces you to wake up, as it requires some complex facial expressions and other challenges to shut up.
Microsoft has released a large portfolio off its productivity suite onto the Play store. From Office, complete with Excel, Outlook, to OneDrive, the company wants to “Maintain a consistent office experience in your life, weather on the move or at work.” There is also “Office mobile” which offers basic editing and viewing features, for those who wouldn’t want the ton of options that come with the standalone editors (Each weighs in at more than 100 MB).
The office suite is now fully function on the go, with the apps offering all of the basic features of the desktop version. Standalone apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint were released to offer more functionality compared to the viewing focused Office Mobile. Well, the Mobile version of excel, coupled with Microsoft’s own Excel Keyboard, might even feel better for data entry than the desktop version. The seamless integration with office 365 and OneDrive makes it all the more enticing. Although the suite is free, Office 365 subscribers get more features on the standalone apps.
OneNote is ever present, and is a decent tool to take notes with. It does not come with all the bells and whistles, but it does hit the sweet spots. Note taking, scribbling, pagination, you name it. If you are not hooked up with another note taking app already, its actually worth a try.
And the rest of them
Microsoft also has a multitude of other apps on android. It even has an app that shows a list of garage apps, which doesn’t make sense, until you consider the extensiveness of their offerings. From tools like the Remote Desktop, health apps and Switch to Windows Phone(Which hasn’t been updated in a while),the list is long. You can view the list here on the Playstore.
Microsoft is in a drive to reach mobile users, whatever platform they are on. This might be a way of future proofing itself, s the future seems to be truly mobile first. Even if this means putting to a disadvantage it’s own mobile OS. Lately, Microsoft is partnering a number of Smartphone makers to have it’s apps pre-installed on their devices.