In the world of mobile operating systems, the term “Fork” has a very special meaning. Forking an operating system means, making a version of that operating system to run on a particular hardware. For example, Amazon made a fork version of Android for its Kindle Fire tablets. This version is quite different from traditional Android but uses a lot of the operating system’s assets.
Some industry observers are saying that if Windows wants to make inroads in the smartphone market, it can do so by forking Android. This is would be a quite interesting strategy. Android, after all, is an open source operating system. In other words, it’s free. So, it would use the Android operating system so that it can run on many different machines. However, it would incorporate a lot of Windows apps and features so that Windows could brand itself using the forked version. This is quite an interesting idea because it seems to solve a major problem which is how can Windows phone become more popular. However, it neglects one serious point. The reason why hardware makers are installing Android, in the first place, is that it’s completely free. If there’s going to be a Windows version of Android, it kind of defeats the purpose because it doesn’t fit Microsoft’s business model. Microsoft is all about selling software. The reason it got into the Windows phone is not because it wants to sell per se but because it wanted to open a new front where it can sell its software. And this is where the whole idea of Windows forked Android version falls apart. It doesn’t fit the Microsoft narrative. It’s not in Microsoft’s DNA to give away its operating system. That’s not its business model. It’s not primarily a hardware maker or a web-based software maker like Google. Microsoft is in the market for selling operating systems and proprietary software.
Still, this idea of a forked version of Android does raise a few eyebrows. It allows Windows to gain a wider market and also build on its strengths while building on Androids strengths. Still, it would be a tough sell because such a forked version would not have You Tube, Google Maps, Google Docs, Gmail, or Google search built in. Of course, the argument could be made that you could have Livemail or Hotmail and Bing and Office 365 and Microsoft’s version of all these services. It is quite an intriguing idea and it does show the increasingly desperate state of affairs for Windows in the smartphone market.