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With 'Virgin' Developers, Microsoft Could Fork Android

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the are-you-sure-this-is-a-shortcut? dept.

Operating Systems 241

colinneagle writes "Amid all the talk about Microsoft forking Android for a smartphone OS, one suggestion involves a look back to Microsoft's DOS days. Microsoft DOS was designed per IBM's specification to run exclusively on IBM's PC hardware platforms. Phoenix Technologies employed software developers it nicknamed 'virgins,' who hadn't been exposed to IBM's systems, to create a software layer between Microsoft's DOS system and PCs built by IBM's competitors. This helped Microsoft avoid infringing on IBM's patents or copyrights, and subsequently helped fuel the explosive growth of PC clones. Microsoft could use the same approach to 'clone' the proprietary Android components in its own Android fork. This would prevent copyright infringement while giving Microsoft access to Google Play apps, as well as Android's massive base of developers." Microsoft (or anyone) could generate a lot of goodwill by completely replacing the proprietary bits of Android; good thing that doing so is a work in progress (and open-source, too), thanks to Replicant. (Practically speaking, though, couldn't Google just make access to the Play Store harder, if Microsoft were to create an Android-alike OS? Even now, many devices running Android variants don't have access to it.)

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This is news... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294651)

...how. Same old story MS. legally "stealing" someone else's work if they fell like it. blah blah blah

Re:This is news... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46294883)

Pretty sure this is the approach the Noveau project uses, as well as the Wine devs, as well as a ton of other FOSS folks.

Its not new, its pretty standard. Its called clean-room design / reverse engineering.

Re:This is news... (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 7 months ago | (#46294945)

well, except that it is actually the opposite... microsoft will charge for it, and the others are free. we think that wine and noveau are acceptable because they are free versions of non-free stuff. taking something that is free and making it not free is unacceptable

Re: This is news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295215)

If you mean gratis then you've missed the point of floss. Libre does not necesitate gratis. But if you mean libre/gratis interchangeably then I'm lost at your meaning for which term you mean and where.

Author has obviously no clue at all (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294663)

The Phonix bios clean-room implementation was necessary because - d'oh! - Phonix couldn't legaly use the IBM bios implementation. However, Microsoft can use the Android implementation. It's open source for FSM's sake. They can even verbosly copy the various Google APIs, APIs are not copyrightable after all. Google fought that out with Oracle.

The author of this fine article has obviously no clue what he's talking about.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294691)

The problem is actually not that Microsoft can fork it. After all Microsoft using free software is a good thing. The bad thing is however that Google made a crucial mistake when they created Android. By using a non-copyleft license they have made it possible for Microsoft to not only fork it but also making it non-free.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294779)

That was actually the intention with a non-copyleft license.

Get with the program, no one likes copyleft

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294815)

No. Only you hate copyleft. The rest of us like the protection it affords to freedom. Now, fuck off to planet BSD, you useless fuckwit.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46294891)

How is it "freedom" that it imposes restrictions so onerous that Microsoft wouldnt ever considering touching software thats copyleft?

Oh no, I just sparked another BSD / GPL debate....

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294943)

Freedom does not mean that you are free to do anything you want. It is not freedom when you take away other's freedom, even if you have the freedom to do so.

Re: Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295041)

Well then it's not fucking free, is it. Why should it be called free at all?

Re: Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46295057)

Freedom is a continuum, not an absolute state. Unless you're a libertarian, in which case you have bigger problems.

Re: Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295127)

You have no freedoms that you dont give to others.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 7 months ago | (#46295031)

No, no you didn't.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294985)

He uses Android...

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294839)

Get with the program, no one likes copyleft

Not even RMS?

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 7 months ago | (#46294917)

RMS doesnt have a job and doesnt have to interact with any sort of industry. Hes free to live in a fantasy land and talk about ideals.

In the rest of the world, copyleft has done some good things but its basically a massive nuisance to anyone who may want to do business with it. If I were to see a cool copyleft program, id have to talk with my boss before using it because I dont actually own the code I write, and cannot legally make a decision about how to license it.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294999)

He used to sell copies of GNU software on tape. Not sure if he still does that though.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 7 months ago | (#46295145)

You always own the code you write. What you don't own is the code that other people wrote which you're piggybacking on, free of charge.

If you don't like their terms of use and redistribution, you can easily solve the problem by writing your own implementation of their functionality.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295209)

Thats because your a fucking moron. Dont blame a lience just because you or your stupid boss is too scared to use it.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (4, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 7 months ago | (#46294863)

So, Microsoft forks Android, makes it proprietary, and that does what for Android? Exactly?

Here's a hint, it leaves Android completely free and open, and only locks Microsoft's brain dead locked up version to ... Microsoft. I could care less if Microsoft makes a fork proprietary, or not. Or anyone else for that matter. This is what FREE and OPEN really mean. Locking people into your own version serves only you, and smart people will avoid your version, and stay with the free non-copyleft versions.

In summary, if you fork Android, make it proprietary, and think you'll survive long term, you're stupid. Even if your proprietary is vastly superior in function.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46294909)

So, Microsoft forks Android, makes it proprietary, and that does what for Android? Exactly?

The license doesn't permit that. They can make their additions proprietary, but not the base OS. So the real question is what it's supposed to do for Microsoft.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 7 months ago | (#46294979)

Not sure about the exact fraction, but as far as I know most of Android is under the Apache license which is not copyleft.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46295035)

Not sure about the exact fraction, but as far as I know most of Android is under the Apache license which is not copyleft.

Sure, but do you really think Microsoft will replace the kernel? Doesn't that defeat about half the point?

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 7 months ago | (#46295039)

So, Microsoft forks Android, makes it proprietary, and that does what for Android? Exactly?

The license doesn't permit that. They can make their additions proprietary, but not the base OS. So the real question is what it's supposed to do for Microsoft.

The license isn't copyleft. They would have to include a copy of the APL, but:
You may add Your own copyright statement to Your modifications and may provide additional or different license terms and conditions for use, reproduction, or distribution of Your modifications, or for any such Derivative Works as a whole, provided Your use, reproduction, and distribution of the Work otherwise complies with the conditions stated in this License.

That means that while they have to include a copy of the APL, they don't have to license the new derivative OS under the APL or provide the source for it. They just have to inform the consumer that parts of it started out APL.

And really, that is what Google does already, they just stick it all in a blob called the Google Services Framework...

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 7 months ago | (#46294987)

No it is open like MacOSX is open.

Google has things locked very tight on Android [arstechnica.com] which will make compatibility difficult and a constantly changing targeting if MS were dumb enough to make an Android fork.

Windows Phone would turn into a mobile version of OS/2 which is used by few and developers say "Oh it runs Android. Lets just target that only and ignore MS we will get both platforms etc", but in reality Google changes AOSP apis and viola it breaks on Windows Phone.

Windows Phone is not a bad OS even if it is spouted here as the anti Christ from people who actually never ran it. If it were not made by Microsoft I think people would like it here seriously.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 7 months ago | (#46295017)

Not if they are basing it off of proprietary components. Good luck with that. Oracle would have won it's lawsuit over Java with Google had they not open sourced Java.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (4, Informative)

telchine (719345) | about 7 months ago | (#46294861)

The author of this fine article has obviously no clue what he's talking about.

Agreed.

Here is an in-deph article on why forking Android won't work...

http://arstechnica.com/informa... [arstechnica.com]

Android is part proprietary ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 7 months ago | (#46294897)

The Phonix bios clean-room implementation was necessary because - d'oh! - Phonix couldn't legaly use the IBM bios implementation.

Its useful to point out to readers that IBM published the source code to their PC BIOS. If you programmed for DOS and used BIOS calls it was common to look at this source code to get details about parameters to be passed in. This would make you ineligible for the clean room rewrite.

However, Microsoft can use the Android implementation. It's open source for FSM's sake.

Not all of it. The summary is clearly referring to the non-open proprietary components of Android.

Re:Android is part proprietary ... (1)

Pi1grim (1956208) | about 7 months ago | (#46295015)

Well, luckily for MS, google never released source code for their proprietary apps. All in all I see this as a positive thing. Google has been tightening it's grip on android ecosystem, trying to absorb as much of basic APIs into it's proprietary GoogleServices as possible. Maybe this will force them to open up again at least a little bit.

Re:Author has obviously no clue at all (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 7 months ago | (#46294961)

Actually, it was COMPAQ that reverse engineered the BIOS.

NetworkWorld junk spam on Slashdot again.... (3, Interesting)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 7 months ago | (#46295173)

From the article

. However, Google’s verification is not needed for an individual consumer to download and install a Google-signed version of the Google Play app store and then download the full inventory of Google proprietary apps to an unverified Android version.

That's quite wrong. The Play app is copyrighted, proprietary and is tightly coupled to Google's cloud. They even sent a Cease and Desist to CyanogenMod a few years ago and stopped them from distributing it. They don't go after individual users, but those users are still infringing Google's copyright and are essentially pirating the software. So this advice is like suggesting that Ubuntu make VM software that makes it really easy to pirate Windows to run Windows apps since MS does not go after individual personal home users for pirating their software.

Not to mention that even if all this manages to happen, Google can just tweak their servers and store app to reject connections from Android forks(see iTunes).

If you want read a better article about why forking Android does not make any sense, this article is way better:
http://arstechnica.com/informa... [arstechnica.com]

Even if MS wants to do something like that, it makes a bit more sense to make Windows Phone able to load Android Apps, which they were/are supposedly exploring.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/2... [theverge.com]

Virgin Developers (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 7 months ago | (#46294665)

So is Richard Branson involved in all this?

Re:Virgin Developers (4, Funny)

mseidl (828824) | about 7 months ago | (#46294805)

No, just the standard virgin developers

Re:Virgin Developers (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46295043)

Or - blah blah blah, something about a volcano...

Amazon (2, Interesting)

arbiterxero (952505) | about 7 months ago | (#46294669)

The reality is that this is an opportunity for Amazon.....

Amazon has an app store, they could have the ability to sell Blackberry, IOS, Android apps all from the vendors so that when you buy an app it's device agnostic.

Then the app-stores that are phone specific now become ONE app store that allows you to take your apps with you. One App store that you can pick which version/compatibility to install.

Amazon just needs to be able to import your Play Store Sales, and Apple Sales so that you can get those apps from them.

Re:Amazon (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 7 months ago | (#46294969)

Amazon just needs to be able to import your Play Store Sales, and Apple Sales so that you can get those apps from them.

Huh? What does that mean? There is no mechanism by which Amazon can sell iOS apps. Apart from to jailbroken phones.

iOS apps must be signed by Apple ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 7 months ago | (#46294973)

Amazon has an app store, they could have the ability to sell Blackberry, IOS, Android apps ...

An iOS app has to be digitally signed by Apple, if not a device running iOS will decline to run the app.

Re:Amazon (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 7 months ago | (#46295045)

LMOL - yeah, they want to service other hardware competitors....you're more clueless than the author.

Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (1)

transporter_ii (986545) | about 7 months ago | (#46294671)

All they would have to do is fork Android and replace all the proprietary Google parts with their own. There is nothing secret or shady about this. See: Amazon Kindle Fire.

Microsoft would just have to jump into it fully. I like the Amazon App market, but I've found apps in it are often several versions behind apps in the Google Play store. If something like that is going to work, app makers are going to have to support multiple app stores, and do so fully.

Even though I like Amazon giving Google the competition, I find I'm starting to get apps from Google more because they seem to be supported better.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294727)

In a word: Patents.

If you're going to be messing with replicating a competitor's technologies, you need developers you can verifiably prove have never actually worked with that competitor's technologies before as evidence you did not intend to infringe their software patents. It's stupid, but it falls in line with engineers who are forbidden from trying to find out if what they're working on is already patented.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (2)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 7 months ago | (#46294813)

I think that'd stand up in court for all of about four seconds. Telling your engineers not to do patent searches in case they come across something similar to what they are working on that they didn't already know about is one thing; setting your engineers to deliberately copy someone else's work is rather another. At any rate, ignorance is no defence to patent infringement, it just helps you avoid the triple damages for wilful infringement.

The whole story is a horrendous beat-up, though. Android is open-source and MS are free to copy it any time they like. There are no proprietary parts of Android that Microsoft would have to replace. The Google Play store *is* proprietary and some Google apps are only (officially/legally) available through it. So Microsoft would have to supply their own implementations of maps (hint: they already have one) their own app store (hint: they already have one, albeit not for Android) and, erm, any other Google apps they thought they couldn't survive without. Since most of the money in Android comes from the Play store and ads in the search and maps apps, I don't think Microsoft are going to be too upset about this revenue going to them and not to Google.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 7 months ago | (#46294887)

Telling your engineers not to do patent searches in case they come across something similar to what they are working on that they didn't already know about is one thing; setting your engineers to deliberately copy someone else's work is rather another.

Developing an equivalent app is not copying someone else's work, and reverse engineering for the purposes of interoperability is still an explicitly protected right under US law.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 7 months ago | (#46295099)

You can still be had for patent infringement if your product reproduces an invention claimed in the patent.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (3, Informative)

thaylin (555395) | about 7 months ago | (#46294889)

You mean copyrights, clean rooms dont get around patents, they get around copyright.

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (1)

Enry (630) | about 7 months ago | (#46295103)

This. You can still violate a patent even if you don't know it existed at the time you developed it. Searching for a patent and then doing an implementation of it would be willful violation and get you much larger penalties.

Not True (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294857)

Amazon didn't create the proprietary parts of Google's services. This is why most apps will not run on Amazon's Kindle devices. Amazon hasn't cloned the Google Services Framework that many apps rely on (because it is updated on all devices automatically that support Google Play).

Re:Why the 'Virgin' Developers? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46294933)

Apps. Microsoft needs them, and they can either try to create their own App Store or they can have someone clean-room develop a system that hooks into Google's existing app store. (They can't ship the Play Store on its own: Google's licencing agreements would require them to prominently use GMail, Google Calendar etc. which rather defeats the MS-phone goal they're going for.)

FWIW I really doubt that's what the Nokia Android will turn out to be.

In my experience, many Microsoft developers are -- (4, Funny)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 7 months ago | (#46294683)

-- oh, to heck with it, WAY too easy.

Virgin developers (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 7 months ago | (#46294719)

Wait, aren't all devlopers virgins?

/ducks

Re:Virgin developers (1)

BisuDagger (3458447) | about 7 months ago | (#46294833)

With Virgin Airlines, Microsoft can also ship their product while maintaining abstinence.

Re:Virgin developers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294877)

Only at Microsoft.

Google and Apple developers are having trouble finding time to code between all the sex their having.

Microsoft's thinking... (4, Funny)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#46294725)

I'm sure that when Microsoft thinks about Android, it's first thought is usually: Fork Android!

Re:Microsoft's thinking... (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 7 months ago | (#46294995)

Fork that!

Just say No (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294737)

So MS is thinking about Android. Is this the same piece of shit MS that extorts a patent fee from every Android device sold? I can't think of a single reason that I would buy anything from MS. Just say no.

Buying Android device, in part, buying from MS ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295029)

So MS is thinking about Android. Is this the same piece of shit MS that extorts a patent fee from every Android device sold? I can't think of a single reason that I would buy anything from MS. Just say no.

So you are advocating iOS? Because if you are going Android you are buying, in part, from Microsoft.

How About Also Having a Store Without Registration (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | about 7 months ago | (#46294757)

... so that you can buy or try any app just like you would download apps for linux distros, without having to register or give an app access to all my stored info? Why does a calculator app need to access my contact list or location data? Will the results vary based on my contacts or location?

And while you're at it an open source version of Android. I'm happy to pay for apps that I really want but lets at least have a layer of security between applications and stored data, location, call history etc etc

Re:How About Also Having a Store Without Registrat (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#46294895)

... so that you can buy or try any app just like you would download apps for linux distros, without having to register or give an app access to all my stored info? Why does a calculator app need to access my contact list or location data? Will the results vary based on my contacts or location?

why don't you just buy a calculator app that doesn't require this access? there are hundreds. or do you always have to have the new shiny?

Re:How About Also Having a Store Without Registrat (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46294949)

Can you filter by permissions on a Google Store search? Genuinely curious.

Re:How About Also Having a Store Without Registrat (1)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | about 7 months ago | (#46295093)

The calculator app was just an example. The point is, why do apps that don't require location, contact lists, browsing history need access to them? We know why they do, so why isn't there built in security to automatically prevent access?

Re:How About Also Having a Store Without Registrat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295187)

Uh, well there is built in security to deny access by default - thats why you have a screen showing you all the permissions an app wants and you have to manually agree to it. ~You~ grant permissions to apps on your device - if you dont, the app wont be installed and/or work properly.

Re: How About Also Having a Store Without Registra (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295075)

F-Droid. That's the thing you want. It already exists.

Re:How About Also Having a Store Without Registrat (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46295091)

... so that you can buy or try any app just like you would download apps for linux distros, without having to register or give an app access to all my stored info? Why does a calculator app need to access my contact list or location data? Will the results vary based on my contacts or location?

And while you're at it an open source version of Android. I'm happy to pay for apps that I really want but lets at least have a layer of security between applications and stored data, location, call history etc etc

You could always install xPrivacy, [xda-developers.com] which can be set up to selectively feed false info to apps.

A calculator app that accesses location data ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 7 months ago | (#46295237)

Why does a calculator app need to access my contact list or location data?

I have written a calculator app [perpenso.com] and I did consider using location data. In addition to scientific, statistics, business and hex functionality it also offers bill / tip functionality. The later could use location data to estimate sales tax if you had not defined it in settings. That said, I have not implemented such behavior.

I suppose I could also use locality to automatically choose whether I am converting US fluid ounce or Imperial fluid ounces to ml, rather than rely on a definition in settings. Again, I have not implemented such behavior.

Now I do use internet access which is not something that a calculator obviously needs. However I allow users to import statistical data from the web.

I understand that some apps are abusive. I am just trying to point out that advanced behavior is not necessarily an indicator of an abusive app. We now have quite sophisticated handheld computers and we are not limited to the legacy functionality that legacy devices offered.

maker harder? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#46294777)

yes they could. but it would make their google android(tm) licensing scheming a bit harder, having to keep access lists and all that - which they don't do now.

so umm.. is there some device now that's banned from the market? I mean some device that you just plain can not install google apps on and then access the market? (sure, plenty of devices and mods don't come with them but you could always install the play client if you wanted..)

GPL and Free Software (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294785)

In other news, Network World reports that the FSF and the GPL is not simply a mechanism to promote sharing, but *specifically engineered* by Richard Stallman to subvert restrictions (to the maximum extent possible under law) imposed via copyright and patent law! Who knew?!

Two things (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about 7 months ago | (#46294787)

Two things that are very important to the Microsoft philosophy are "generating goodwill" and "replacing proprietary bits." Why here's a clip (in Spanish!) from the Simpson's demonstrating this philosophy in action!

https://myspace.com/tanaso4/vi... [myspace.com]

fairy tail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294791)

There could be fairy's on the moon too.

Where is the historical proof of Microsoft ever doing anything like this? There sure is lots of evidence of them ripping out parts of products and/or services which didn't run on Windows and attempt to get Windows running them.

How the fuck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294811)

Would Microsoft generate good will by replacing the proprietary parts of Android? The only proprietary parts are the Google services, which Google is under no obligation to open source at all. And if Bing has shown us anything, Microsoft's attempt at beating Google at their own game is laughably pitiful.

And if you think Google are just going to lie down and allow Microsoft to write a wrapper that sits between the Google Services and their own fork, you've got quite the shock coming.

some serious assumptions are being made. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 7 months ago | (#46294817)

The argument is predicated on the logic that microsoft no longer observes windows as a viable or competitive product. history tells us that through several iterations and permutations of the OS, microsoft considers the product sound and functional at any level of the integrated circuit from ARM to Xeon. it also fails to acknowledge that microsoft doesnt just want a slice of the android apps market, it wants a market completely of its own. its an incredibly lucrative ecosystem, as theyve seen from microtransactions and service subscription in their XBox product.

the problem of developers is a recent addition for microsoft. in the past, 'by hook or by crook' if you wrote code and expected users to be a part of it, you took your seat at Redmonds table and ate cake. theres also another big fact to face: the layered approach cannot work with UEFI, signed binaries, DRM and Trusted computing all of which werent prevalent or in existence when IBM saw clones emerge in the market. This in combination with ferocious litigation is the reason apple doesnt find mac clones to be very threatening.

open sourcing the proprietary bits of android is a nuclear option, and one i think redmond might consider, but only if it places them closer to an apps market.

Sailfish/BB10/Ubuntu Mobile /Qt5 to the rescue? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 7 months ago | (#46294821)

We've got BlackBerry, Ubuntu using Qt/QML for native app development. Ubuntu is using Android's kernel. Developing a phone platform that can also run on iOS and Android would fix the problem of inertia with a lot less effort of re-inventing Android. And recent versions of Android have a no-forking provision. So there's no forking way.

I specifically mention Ubuntu Mobile because they are already aligned with WinRT's vision. Ubuntu Mobile uses android kernels, so there's no additional hardware porting effort.

The license(s) for Ubuntu / Qt5 are much more permissive. Microsoft could also just buy Blackberry, and get what they want. So many choices.

Oblig Gandhi quote (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#46294823)

First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.

Re:Oblig Gandhi quote (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294903)

If that rule is universal, Windows 8.2 will be the OS of choice for Slashdot by year's end.

Copyright: no; Patent infringement: yes (1)

kaychoro (1340087) | about 7 months ago | (#46294825)

In the last 35 years, copyright has become less of a problem. It's easy to avoid copyright infringement with virgin developers; however, too many patent trolls would make lawsuits for patent infringement (imagined or otherwise) almost guaranteed.

Huh? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 7 months ago | (#46294835)

Microsoft (or anyone) could generate a lot of goodwill by completely replacing the proprietary bits of Android

By replacing them with more proprietary bits?

Sorry, but if you want goodwill, you need to make them non-proprietary, otherwise you've just shuffled things around.

This doesn't work for patents (2)

thunderdanp (1481263) | about 7 months ago | (#46294843)

Clean room development is a good way to defend against copyright infringement, because you are able to demonstrate you did not have actual knowledge of the copyrighted material, and hence could not have copied it. With patents, it does not matter whether you copied it or not. If your product performs the same invention as described in the claims of a patent, you infringe, regardless of the absence of copying.

Re:This doesn't work for patents (1)

gnupun (752725) | about 7 months ago | (#46295139)

... because you are able to demonstrate you did not have actual knowledge of the copyrighted material, and hence could not have copied it.

Clean room is about cloning/copying a technological product without copyright infringement. But you do have actual knowledge of the product, but at a higher level, not the exact competitor's source code.

According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Typically, a clean room design is done by having someone examine the system to be reimplemented and having this person write a specification. This specification is then reviewed by a lawyer to ensure that no copyrighted material is included. The specification is then implemented by a team with no connection to the original examiners.

A group of developers reverse engineer the competitor's product, then write a specification and pseudo code about how it works. Once they get the okay from the legal dept, they throw the spec and pseudo code over the "chinese wall" to the developers that turn them into their own code.

And old dog doesn't learn new tricks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294845)

All I see is the usual Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

Why protect the 'Store'? (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | about 7 months ago | (#46294855)

Call me naive, but why is Google so protective of the Play Store? Don't they get a cut of every sale there? I can understand why they'd want to block the side-loading of apps onto other OS devices, but wouldn't they want EVERYONE to use the store?

What I see, is that they should work towards eliminating other stores. So the Amazon App Store is more of a threat than Microsoft making a phone that can point at Google's store.

Re:Why protect the 'Store'? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46294923)

Support I should think.

If they only tack it onto supported devices from manufacturer's playing ball, they don't have to worry about compatibility etc.

They distinguish, as it is, that my manky Galaxy Ace is not able to run apps that other phones / tablets are able to run. Hence they are already wasting a lot of my time when I go to an interesting app only to find it's not compatible.

Throw in fifty brands of cheap unofficial tablet and they have no way to test compatibility to that fine a degree. And when they want to obsolete a particular model / Android version it becomes much harder is the company isn't around any more (and / or kicks up a fuss when all their models stop being able to use the Play store).

It's all to do with manufacturer's agreements and clauses within them that give them an obligation to keep up to date with Android version, security problems, etc. I should imagine.

That said, there's pretty much nothing Android that you can't hack some version of the Play store onto, even if it's just manually getting an old Play Store APK file and installing it.

Google don't seem to "block" that, they just don't support it. I set up several brands of cheap tablet onto Play Store for my former employer and it still lets you install Store apps, Google Apps for Domains, etc. and it quite obviously recognises what the device is (it sucks off the manufacturer name from the tablet presumably) and knows it's not a model that Play Store was ever bundled with.

Re:Why protect the 'Store'? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46294951)

P.S. The Play Store EULA allows this. It only mentions "a device supplied with a version of Android" as the requirement to be licensed to use Play Store, last time I read it... I was that worried, I checked.

Re:Why protect the 'Store'? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46294981)

It's not about protecting the Play Store. They know everyone wants it on their device, and they can exploit that need by bundling it with other, very profitable apps that Google wants to promote like G+, GMail, Maps, and Search. Those are Google's real profit centres.

Nothing prevent MS from making Android phones (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 7 months ago | (#46294871)

Google freely allows this. You can take their releases, which is mostly open source software, and build a product around it. If you want access to early releases, then you have to start playing by Google's rules, but even that is not so hard.

If you want to make a fork of Android and give it to partners you could do that with anything but the early preview releases. Fork Jellybean or KitKat right now if you want. If you want to stay on top of what Google is doing, you'll be integrating their future releases into your custom releases. Or you could ignore the work that Google does and go in your own direction. Add .NET support if you want, set the mail and search engine defaults to point to Microsoft. Most of the real proprietary stuff are the bits that various vendors provide and not too much around Google's, except some of the Java apps they bundle. Which I assume Microsoft would want to replace with their own version.

not exactly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295003)

I think you mean the open source release is easy to get from Google. Which I believe was the starting place for CryogenMod.

open source android:
$ curl http://commondatastorage.googl... [googleapis.com] > ~/bin/repo
$ chmod a+x ~/bin/repo
$ mkdir dev
$ cd dev
$ repo init -u https://android.googlesource.c... [googlesource.com] -b android-4.4.2_r2
$ repo sync ... then it's the normal build steps. export TOP=$(pwd) ; source build/envsetup.sh ; ...

Why would they? (2)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | about 7 months ago | (#46294873)

My Windows phone (Lumia 920) runs faster and more fluid and it has significantly less power than my Android tablet (Nexus 7, 1st gen). Each update has added features without making it slower. There are less apps but I have yet to not find what I'm looking for and they generally feel more consistently designed. WP 8 brought native C++ programming. The only thing left is ditching their Direct3D stuff for OpenGL/OpenCL support to make porting games easier (which will admittedly probably never happen).

In terms of geek factor Android is of course far more customizable and rootable, but I and I'd assume the great majority of users are not interested in doing that.

There's so much focus on Microsoft forking Android, but I really don't see the point. They've got a long way to go to get to Android levels of market share, but it's by no means a failure that deserves to be trashed.

In how many meetings at Microsoft would the phrase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294875)

:)

What they should do (1)

koan (80826) | about 7 months ago | (#46294879)

Is spin off a team of younger devs to create an entirely new OS that runs on PC hardware, one that's trim, fast and compatible.
As Apple to BSD so should this team be to Windows.

The rule for deploying with this new OS, no 3rd party demo software allowed form OEM's, target gamers and music/vide/photo professionals, and a host of built in apps that are actually pleasant to look at and useful.

I imagine ... (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | about 7 months ago | (#46294893)

... Microsoft would love this idea, because they could create a "clean" product, while paying the developers less by angling that they don't have Android experience.

Clueless ... (1)

BadDreamer (196188) | about 7 months ago | (#46294915)

Clean room implementations do nothing at all to protect from patent infringement. Patents are like nuclear submarines, hiding and striking very hard when you least expect it. Copyright, sure, but that is irrelevant since the GMS is closed source and the source code is not available anyway.

So what the OT is suggesting is that Microsoft makes a WINE style implementation of the GMS, moving target and all, and allow Google to take the lead and Microsoft to follow.

Sounds likely.

Re:Clueless ... (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46294977)

But patent infringement is not inherent to Android alone.

If you make any kind of modern tablet device, the patents basically cover all models, all OS, etc. Kind of the idea of a patent rather than copyright.

As such, the patent issue is separate and unavoidable anyway, whether you're using someone else's code, your own code, or your own interpretation of their code. Or even just slapping Windows onto an tablet / smartphone-like device.

Whats wrong with Windows Phone? (2, Insightful)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 7 months ago | (#46294921)

Seriously this is not flame bait and I am not trolling here.

Just speaking as a Windows Phone user who is happy who switched. Windows Phone does have some features. It is very light and responsive on lower end hardware and has neat features with battery and data saving, and the best cut and paste support on touch around compared to IOS and Android (speaking as an ex android user). The view on this site is that MS is years behind and it is all soo buggy, slow, and crappy compared to the coolness of Android from people of course who actually never even used it before?!

It is not perfect as it lacks a notification center and voice support is less than with other platforms. But it does not mean it is crap either.

I am a former Android user and use a Nokia. Really Windows Phone is not a bad OS and if it was not made by Microsoft it would not be soo bashed here.

Android has issues. It is partially opensourced where AOSP is the proprietary part that locks developers and Microsoft to Google [arstechnica.com] similar to MacOSX being partially open.

I think Ms will destroy its brand name and turn it into another OS/2 as developers will just target Android and with AOSP it means compatibility problems will arise often for Windows Phone users.

Windows 9 will have a unified modern apps that run on the phone and desktop if rumors are true. This will put a dent into both.

Re:Whats wrong with Windows Phone? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46295149)

Every product, no matter how ostensibly terrible, has a user base for whom it fits like a glove.

Case in point: pre-iPhone smartphones, which despite being expensive and a pain in the ass to use, were the only fully-fledged computers that fit in your pocket and therefore invaluable in some contexts. Or the much-maligned PSVita, which isn't exactly rolling in CoD and Final Fantasy but turns out to be the iPod for indie gaming and PSone software. Or the Windows Phone, in your case: it doesn't have a huge games selection or ultrasonic measuring tape apps, but I'm guessing you don't exactly need those.

Unfortunately other people outside of your niche might need other things, so these are bad devices for them. And right now, MS needs that bigger group of people.

Re:Whats wrong with Windows Phone? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 7 months ago | (#46295231)

Some people here might have issue with Windows Phone as it came from MS, but most people here see that it was behind Android and iOS and is only slowly catching up. Like many things can we blame people especially consumers for waiting until they think something is ready before they use it? The current notion of tablets being lightweight and having simplified touch-centric UIs is different from the expensive heavy laptop with a touchscreen vision that MS tried to sell a decade ago. This new idea of what a tablet should be has been embraced by consumers. Part of the problem for MS is that they are behind Android and iOS in many areas still like apps. Over time, MS might overcome them but it might have been too late for them.

The other problem for MS is that their strategy to leverage their desktop monopoly into the mobile market has backfired. Surely MS knew that loyal desktop users hated Metro during betas. Yet they forced it upon them anyways. My opinion is that MS wanted to force everyone to use Metro to get them used to it so that they would be familiar with it and purchase Windows 8 tablets/phones instead of Android or iOS devices. This means that developers would also start developing apps as well. The animosity that most desktop users feel about Metro means that fewer desktop users are going to pick Windows 8 as a mobile platform rather than more. This also means that fewer developers are going to develop for Windows 8 right away and will wait. After all if developers choose to develop for Android and iOS, they reach 90+% of the market. Are they going to expend resources for the last few percent? Not likely.

Microsoft is a powerless company (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 7 months ago | (#46294931)

Anoither "Hey here is a idea for Microsoft so they can be relevant again" article.

Copying others isn't a long -term business plan -- when you copy, it is action without thought or imitation without intelligence.

If Microsoft wants to get positive press, they need to kill Metro and demonstrate competence in their primary product.

Patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46294959)

"This helped Microsoft avoid infringing on IBM's patents..." Erm... No. Patents can be infringed in a clean-room implementation.

A better write up than usual (1)

plopez (54068) | about 7 months ago | (#46294963)

Instead of just a cut and paste job the poster actually added something for discussion in an even handed way.

Amazon app store would eclipse Play in a second (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 7 months ago | (#46294975)

Amazon app store is supported on all 9 of my android devices. Play store is supported on 2 of them. It is already the first place I look for an app.

Re:Amazon app store would eclipse Play in a second (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 7 months ago | (#46295071)

So 7 out of your 9 android devices are Kindles - got it.

play store (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 7 months ago | (#46295033)

> Practically speaking, though, couldn't Google just make access to the Play Store harder, if Microsoft were to create an Android-alike OS?

Sure, just make it a requirement that the transaction be signed in some fashion, and then make the credentials really difficult to get.

Waaaait, that sounds familiar...

Really? A Microsoft fork? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46295047)

I am not saying it would be impossible, but I highly doubt anyone in Redmond is going to suggest a serious fork of Android in an effort to replace Windows Phone. They just finished rewriting the OS recently so that they essentially have a unified platform between desktop, tablet, and mobile (with the obvious incompatibility between x86 and ARM hardware versions). This was a good move strategically, and one that Apple will likely need to follow (and has already made some effort, to a degree).

Windows Phone is a solid platform with a great interface for mobile phones and tablets... not saying that it is ready for desktops and such, but it works well in this niche. To say it is horrible (which it certainly isn't... even if it isn't your cup of tea) exposes you as a zealot. The issue with the platform is the lack of apps. That can be fixed independently of the OS.

1. A general shift to HTML 5 apps - this would be good for developers in general as these apps could work on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. This is probably the best thing that could happen, but it is a "cultural" shift and those don't happen just because some company wants it.

2. Encentivize developers to build the platform - MS has done this to a degree already... and this may become less of an issue as adoption of Windows 8 slowly increases, which it will. Maybe Windows 9 will be necessary. Honestly, the problem I see with Windows 8 is that it may just be ahead of its time... it was a risky move and it appears to be painful, so far.

3. Get Google Play on Windows Phone (et. al.) - This doesn't seem like it should be that big of an issue. Google Play works on Windows when you install Chrome, so who knows. This is merely stopped because of politics.

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