Steve Ballmer says Windows Phone should run Android apps

Steve Ballmer

Microsoft should be working on making Windows Phone run Android apps, according to the company's former chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer, who handed over the reins to Satya Nadella last year, and who is now owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, weighed in on his former company while speaking to Bloomberg.

When asked about Nadella's focus on building Windows 10's 'Universal Apps' platform, which makes it easier for developers to make apps that work across Windows on mobile, tablet and desktop, Ballmer simply said "That won't work", and argued for Android app support instead.

Lack of apps has been a perennial problem for Windows on mobile, and the chicken/egg problem of needing more apps to attract users while needing more users to attract app developers is one of the reasons why Microsoft's mobile platform ambitions have remained stalled.

If Android apps could be run on Windows, that could be an effective means of getting around the problem, as developers wouldn't have to rebuild from the ground up.

The company had in fact been previously working on this Android support, in a project that was codenamed 'Astoria', but this was dropped as a priority in favour of focusing on Universal Apps.

As the Verge notes, the comments are perhaps a little surprising, given that it was on Ballmer's watch that Microsoft largely rejected working with other platforms. It's only since Nadella took over that the company has made a big push into growing its presence on iOS and Android.

Cloud Criticisms

Interestingly too, in the same interview Ballmer blasted the current Microsoft administration's approach to reporting its earnings, arguing that the company should report earnings in full from Microsoft's cloud business, not just the "run rate", which annualised revenue collected in a shorter period of time. He called it "bullshit".

When asked by Bloomberg about Ballmer's comments, Microsoft's investor relations manager Chris Suh said (presumably through gritted teeth):

"We enjoy a regular dialogue with Steve, and welcome his input and feedback, as we do from our other investors."

We look forward to Ballmer lobbing more grenades in the future.