Microsoft is making a ROM that will transform your Android phone into a Windows Phone



Microsoft has been doing a lot of work to capture mind share by releasing many of their latest apps and services on Android, but the company could look to get the “market” share to go along with it in their latest move. TechCrunch reports Microsoft is working on a custom ROM that will emulate a Windows Phone 10 experience.

This won’t be some simple Metro-styled launcher, either — this is apparently going to operate as a full-blown operating system as if you had originally bought a Windows 10 phone with access to Microsoft’s wealth of apps and services.

Xiaomi has agreed to make their flagship MI 4 a testing platform for the projects, though the company is clear to note that this isn’t a “partnership” of sorts where Xiaomi will begin shipping Mi 4 units with Windows 10 instead of MIUI. Instead, this is a pure trial for only the most interested Mi 4 owners, and the opportunity to take part won’t be extended to everyone.

Microsoft issued the following statement regarding the program:

As part of the Windows Insider Program, Microsoft will partner with Xiaomi to offer Windows 10 free downloads to a select group of Xiaomi Mi4 users. Xiaomi Mi4 users will get the ability to flash their phones with the new Windows 10 OS and provide feedback to Xiaomi and Microsoft on their experience. This partnership will allow Xiaomi and Microsoft to get direct user feedback and continue to improve the experience for China. Microsoft is thrilled to see Xiaomi embracing Windows 10 and offering this great value to their customers. We’re excited to see the feedback we receive from this audience.

Xiaomi is a leading phone manufacturer in China undergoing significant global expansion. We are excited to partner with them in China and jointly gather feedback from Chinese users on their experience with Windows 10 to jointly collaborate on product and services development for the platform.

Availability will be announced in the months to come.

Microsoft’s motive for this interesting move isn’t clear. Is this meant to give users a taste of Windows 10 so Microsoft can entice them to buy into the real deal? Does Microsoft want to create an alternate platform for users to use and become a true device-agnostic platform that can be used on a wide variety of devices like their desktop operating system is? Are they simply bored? Who knows, but they have our ear either way and we can’t wait to see how well this project turns out to be once it’s available for folks to try out.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I’d use it

  2. i’d totally download this….I had a Lumia 935 (for 2 months) and liked it in a few ways. would not mind seeing how my N6 would look as a windows phone. EDIT: I am thinking LAUNCHER, not ROM like it obviously states above….no google play services, then no way

    1. This should have been a part of ARA initiative IMO. If they wanted to make a phone with truly open architecture, they should build it with other operating systems in mind.

    2. Really don’t like Windows 8.1 on a pc. I don’t imagine liking Windows Phone either.

      1. its really not that bad…..as long as you dont compare it to android or even iOS so i guess thats not really saying much for my argument haha

  3. Just read this on Yahoo Tech…..I think it’s genius.. One thing about android is its open source…with so many ROMs out there…Microsoft may just be on to something..if its Dual-Boot..OMG!!!!!

    1. Supposedly, dual-boot isn’t going to be an option due to it being quite difficult. Maybe that’s a solvable problem though at some point.

      1. Awwwww

      2. It’s solvable. Surely. I recall when having a mobile device with more than 1 user account option was brutal to get working and it took what, 3-4 versions of Android to finally happen. Now, common. The day will come. Just like it did on computers.

      3. there are already some dual boot solutions for other android devices.
        an android/Wp10 dual boot would probably require windows to be the main OS though and android would run off an extra partition or off a memory card.

    2. As a retired Unix developer/researcher, I quickly fell in love with WebOS. The subsequent management fiascos both at Palm and HP left me with two perfectly fine tablets and a series of aging phones. I attempted the dual-boot path, only to find it frustrating that what I wanted to do next was always on the “other” system.
      I finally succumbed to PAC-MAN rom to turn the tablets into game platforms for the grandkids, only to discover Android had evolved quite a bit, encompassing virtually all the great features Palm pioneered in WebOS… cloud, notifications, gestures, web-centric, etc. I’ve repeated the same experimentation, now running Win10 on $50 GoPhone … discovering the same evolution taking place there.
      The underlying OS matters little if you’re not a developer of some sort…. ALL will be running essentially the same conceptual user interface, heavily touch and gestures based, all integrating mail, messaging, and social services from MANY vendors.
      If you think Google’s suite of tools is great, fine. Others thing the suite available at live.com is just as impressive, and I’m sure Apple users have there “idea” shaped by their personal experience.
      But what WebOS did, and Win10 and ALL others will continue to do, is to integrate all the services into one notification area and various customizable workspaces. Example being all the social updates/functionality of facebook, twitter, google+ etc slipping into a common “people” tile/app. All of the various email services slipping into a common “mail” tile/app. …and all working through the cloud via web protocols that allow you to shift easily back to the historical apps if/when you wish.
      The “OS wars” is increasingly shifting into being “developer interface wars”, the readily availability of similar functionality on cheap hardware largely making the underlying OS invisible to the user.

    3. Dual booting a phone is BRILLIANT !

      I need to call my daughter — oh, wait. I’ve got to reboot. She is in the contacts of my *other* OS. Just a second.

      I need to access my music. Oh, wait. It’s on the other OS. Give me a second to reboot . . .

      Thank you Microsoft ! You are the only one who could bring an experience like this to phones.

  4. Can’t say I enjoy yalls enthusiasm. Windows gets no play on my Android device. Never!!!!!

    1. why?? its different but its not horrible by any means

      1. Simple principle to some. I would never run it either as I am not down with MS in any way, shape or form. But I can admit to the smart move to release it if they can.

        1. I mean, I guess I see the principle point to an extent. Why not have it out there to try it though? Not saying I would keep it as my daily ROM but to test it out seems interesting to me

          1. Interesting? Ok sure yes. Worth the effort to me to try? No. Why? I don’t see anything about their products, experience, OS or GUI that impresses me enough beyond saying, “yeah, ok, smart idea from them, put it out, if I were them I would.” But that is as far as it goes for me. Knowing, from the start, I wouldn’t keep it means I wouldn’t even take the time to load it.

          2. I could see it just being like Nova for me….to give my phone a fresh look. I know a ROM is different though. to each his own, was in no way dogging your opinion =)

          3. Oh yeah.. a launcher is vastly different. Launchers I will try and bail on just to see about freshening things up. A whole different ROM – not so much as those have a much higher risk level.

            Oh man, I know you are not dogging me so no worries at all. Just banter between tech tards.

          4. read above, I think my mind is on Launcher….with play services built in. I think I had the wrong “direction” in my head.

          5. I am pretty sure you can go get launchers right now that have the blocky windowz experience. I have not looked, but it must be in existence.

          6. there are, but are any of them built by MS?? anyways, my bad. I need to slow down and put 2and2 together beforehand next time instead of sounding like a douche haha

      2. Well 1st lack of Google applications that should be self explanatory. 2nd lack of customization, some may like big blocky tiles I’m not one of them. Finally lack of third part integration example, Car integration and fitness devices and there is allot more. I could go on and on but I probably won the audience at after the Google comment.

        1. haha touche, I think i’m thinking Google Play services built in… if its straight MS, then no sale here

        2. Yep, you won me.

        3. What do you mean big blocky tiles? You can make all the tiles small if you wanted to. I love the tiles on my phone; having the bigger tiles allows for cool designs to be made by the app developers.

          1. OK so you can make them “Small”, still its pretty ugly. Not my thing.

          2. That’s understandable, everyone has different opinions on designs.

          3. Fugly

          4. Hey windoze is so fugly

  5. I would not run it, but it is a smart as F**** move to make.

  6. Well, that’d be an interesting way to solve the “too many apps” problem that we all face on Android ;)

  7. If I could get google services, especially Play Store, then I’d give it a go. Definitely wouldn’t hurt to run on my Tab 2 so long as the specs support.,

    1. ah good point actually….i wonder if taht would be in play

      1. I’m sure that devs will shoehorn gapps in there

        1. How would gapps run on Windows?

    2. How would Play Store work on Windows Phone 10?

  8. wow lot of new ms paid trolls here . Evil ms that wants to kill and destroy android ….ms is at work as usual. Reminds me of SCO unix linux fiasco. First they threaten android with lawsuits, then with advertisement as scroggle and now this trojan move .

    with 2% windows marketshare ms is desperate , no one wants pos windows os or windows phone

    1. It is an interesting point I also considered. Like a cancer you install yourself.

    2. You really think MS pays people to troll boards? You have some serious mental issues.

      1. I bet he does not even know who runs MS

        1. Steve Job’s ghost of course

          1. hahaha but of course!!

      2. Do you even have a android phone your the paid troll for ms then

        1. Galaxy Note 4 with a gear s watch. Had android phones since my g1. Change phones about 6 times a year. Company iphone for a few weeks once too. Just came back to android from the lumia 1520. Before that had a oneplus one and before that a note 3 and gear 2. Also had a palm pre for a while way back when. Nice try though, my little paranoid friend. On a related note, it would be “you’re” not “your” the paid troll. And “an” not “a” android phone. And yes, spelling and punctuation matter. They help to show you are not a dumbass. Apparently, though, you are. Your opinions are rendered invalid because you are too stupid to use your native language at a level higher than 3rd grade.

      3. You and jk dont even own a android phone guees you All are paid ms trolls

    3. It’s a Windows Phone ROM for one Android phone (a very unpopular phone at that), it’s laughable to call this a “threat” to Android.

  9. If I can run APKs on it or at least dual boot quickly then I’m in!

    1. For real. I can’t wait for a well-supported dual boot phone.

  10. You see, this is that kind of “Uniquely Android” thing that makes Android awesome. Whether or not you would ever consider flashing your device to Windows doesn’t and shouldn’t matter much. The fact that you can, with the full support of Microsoft and the openness of Android is just incredible. Frankly, if I wasn’t so entrenched into Google as my sole platform for everything, I would be Windows exclusively. Now, I’m thinking that if this ROM comes to tablets, I’ll finally have that Windows tablet I’ve been eyeing for fun.

  11. Microsoft’s “wealth” of apps and services.

  12. Why would i care about windows android unless it performs better than stock android. It won’t. All I care about are services and apps. The OS really is something that should be doing it’s thing in the background and the user not worrying about it.

  13. I believe it was 1979 when as an engineer in one of the Navy Labs, I was invited to talk to congressional aids about the possibility of UNIX becoming a standard government operating system…. all the talk in Bell Labs was how Unix was the first “portable” OS, written in a “High Level Language” (C – snicker!) with all the hardware dependencies localized in a relatively few base components. Berkeley had ported their version of Unix to a VAX and it was running on various other platforms within Bell Labs, ranging from the first 32-bit microprocessor on up through large IBM mainframes.
    I was young, full of idealism, and convinced standardized, portable, vendor independent Operating Systems was the wave of the future and would save the government vast sums of money. Competition between hardware vendors would no longer be distorted by their ownership of their own OS, and true apples to apples comparisons would be possible when everyone was running the same OS. Free enterprise, free OS, freedom to choose hardware platforms without the slavery of becoming bound to a vendor’s OS.
    Then the “Unix Wars” began, Everyone proceeded to build “their version” of the OS, and the entire bloody vendor wars simply shifted to another level.
    Oh… and I a few years later went to work for AT&T, and we in the Federal Systems division of AT&T, we had our “secure” version too.
    AT&T shed the cover of a Government regulated monopoly and went commercial sales of Unix System V based, fault tolerant hardware.
    Microsoft and the PC revolution in a few short years put us out of business.
    Everything went desktop.
    Today everything is going mobile…. and two of the big players, Google and Microsoft are back in the battle to develop a “standard OS”.
    It will be interesting to watch. Both have the money to make it work. Now we have to see which has the DISCIPLINE to make it work.
    True portability is very easy to envision and certainly attractive…. but it has been 35+ years a dream turned nightmare of technical, patent, and ego wars.
    From my perspective, I long for the discipline that Microsoft may be able to bring to this. I am very impressed with the portability and grass roots openness of Android systems, but they lack the security, reliability and standardization needed for the real world.
    I hate to tip my hat to Darth Vader, but it takes the power, wealth and connections of a company the size and extent of Microsoft to pull this off.
    Building a ROM to migrate Win10 to Android platforms is precisely what Microsoft should be trying. And Google and Apple should be aggressively trying to host Windows apps and services…. yet it is Microsoft that is the only one doing the “full court press”.
    Interesting times…
    Note: Microsoft can succeed only by essentially making Win10 free. We’ve seen the RedHat model in the Unix world, where the product is SUPPORT, not the software itself. For many years I’ve argued software is worthless without support, so give it away and have the users pay for the R&D taking it to the next level. Before the cloud, this was a messy business model. Now, with the cloud, Microsoft can turn the OS into just the entryway to the cloud of services, indirectly supporting the OS development and support. Seems like a very good business model.
    Personally, I am very impressed with seeing Win10 preview migrate to cheap phones without the cell service provider being the “gatekeeper”. Cutting them out of the loop allows Microsoft much more direct interaction with the customer and rapid evolution of the product/features.
    I hear the Darth Vader theme pounding in the background… I start to wonder if this is how “The Matrix” begins. Do I want to join the masses into induced euphoria, living in a virtual paradise of the machine’s making, or should I continue the drudgery of fighting the good fight in a very dirty world outside the empire?

    1. You should really keep a blog; this is brilliant insight

      Edit: found your blog

  14. When and IF the Turbo can be rooted/unlocked and ROM’d…I’d give it a try for giggles (multi-boot if possible). If it works out in general, the this could be all about the OS market share. Getting it in the hands of (advanced) users.

    …Well, I could test with my Nexus 7 or rom’d (rommed?) RAZR M instead.

  15. Great! I’ve been wanting to give windows phone a try (loved my Zune HD back in the day). I’ll happily flash WP on my OPPO F7. Heck, I’m already running a WP like launcher on it haha

  16. I’d try it if I could dual boot

    1. Dual booting a phone is BRILLIANT !

      I need to call my daughter — oh, wait. I’ve got to reboot. She is in the contacts of my *other* OS. Just a second.

      I need to access my music. Oh, wait. It’s on the other OS. Give me a second to reboot . . .

      Thank you Microsoft ! You are the only one who could bring an experience like this to phones.

      (Re-posted from where I posted it earlier in this thread.)

      1. If they port the windows os to android hardware, it’s a very good chance that they’ll use the same file structure, (i think they’d HAVE to, but I could be wrong) resulting in both ecosystems using the same info from the sd card. Dual-booting works very well these days with multirom, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this could work seamlessly.

  17. This is kind of cool, Windows does have a pretty UI after all.

    1. IMO, what matters most is the developer ecosystem. This indicates the number and qualify of apps potentially available in the long run.

      But to each their own.

  18. Dear Microsoft,

    When I chose to buy Android, I didn’t really mean it. I really wanted to buy a Windows phone, even though nobody is buying them, nobody I know has one, developers are not writing apps for it and there are hardly any OEMs that offer it.

    Enclosed is a blank check. When your Windows 10 for Android ROM becomes available, please fill in the amount and send it to me as I am breathlessly awaiting.

  19. Microsoft is in a pickle. They cannot port the Android run-time to Windows so that Windows can run Android apps and hence attract users to Windows phone. If they don’t there aren’t many people writing native apps for Windows and hence cannot attract to Windows. They could take a major bath on their phone initiative and open source the phone OS, but then without partners and vendors, who is going to adopt a new OS?

  20. I’m paying very close attention. I’m not a huge fan of the “Metro” UI, but depending on how Microsoft’s ROM works, I may just consider giving it a shot.

  21. What Microsoft should do instead is something similar to what Cyanogen and Amazon are doing: Fork Android and build a unique, but compatible, sub-ecosystem within Android.

    I’ve used Android for far too long for me to want to switch. Even though I actually like Windows phone, I don’t find it superior enough (or at all, honestly) that I’m willing to move to an entirely different system and re-learn everything to make it work with my life. However, I do like much of what it has to offer. Simply take your designs, apps, and services and make an Android fork out of that and sell it as an Android device. I’d totally buy that in order to use Cortana and that lovely UI but I still get to use Google Now, Google Maps, all my Android Apps that I’ve purchased, and retain all that flexibility in rooting that I’ve come to know and love.

    I think eventually MS will do something like this but Windows Phone has to burn first and it’ll be a slow one.

    1. Why even bother to mention Amazon? That thing was a total flop.

      1. The Kindle is pretty popular, the fire phone was a bust.

      2. Well, the phone was. Their tablets still sell pretty darned well.

    2. i think what Microsoft is trying for is a unified user experience from a single Win 10 OS across desktop & laptop & tablet & phone & …? I’ve been a huge fan of Android and high end Samsung phones since i got a Galaxy S1. I’m waiting for the Note 5 to come out so i can upgrade my current Note 3 but I’m not especially happy at the thought of no external SD card and no swappable battery. I recently got a Surface Pro 3. If i fall in love with this as much as i expect to, and if the rumours of a high end Microsoft Surface phone running OS 10 are true, then I’m going to be very tempted to try my first non Android / non Samsung phone

      1. I’m with you there on the Note 5. I recently got the Note 4 but rumors of it having an Octa-core processor is very tempting. That said, I’ll still probably stick with Android for my phone. I do want to get a Surface Pro 3 for work related tasks and I have my laptop and PC at home.

    3. If Microsoft did that, it wouldn’t have the Google apps, so no Google Now, Maps, and no Play Store, so stuff you purchased from the Play Store wouldn’t transfer. See the Amazon Kindle Fire and Fire Phone for reference, they are running Android, but with Amazon’s stuff instead of Google’s.

      1. But does that have to be the case? I’m pretty sure Amazon is in the place it’s in because it wanted to run its own App Store. Cyanogen on the other hand, which is pre-installed on the OnePlus has access to the Play Store and Google Apps.

        Additionally, Samsung’s phones come with their own Market Place (Galaxy Apps) and their phones come pre-installed with Goggle Apps and the Play Store. They also push their own apps and services alongside Google’s own.

        There’s business crap behind that kind of thing and Microsoft doesn’t have to position themselves on the wrong side of it.

        1. You need Google’s permission to include the Gapps. Cyanogen is still based in AOSP, and we able to get Google’s permission. If Microsoft were to create a completely separate fork of Android, I can’t imagine Google granting permission to use the Gapps on a platform that don’t control. As you’ve pointed out, they have given Samsung more leeway than they have other manufacturers (presumably do to Sammy being the biggest manufacturer), but even there they haven’t allowed Samsung to completely replace any of Google’s services, only duplicate them.

          I would think that if Microsoft were to do something like this, they’d want to use their own services rather Google’s anyways.

          1. I’d think if MS actually did something like this they’d be more concerned with their services than the OS. So in this case, Microsoft would be better off doing something similar to what Samsung has done and basically skin the OS while providing their own launcher.

            Besides, I’d think anyone buying a Microsoft phone, even a forked one, would be all for Microsoft’s services, many of which are just as good as Google’s save for maps and perhaps Google Now (Haven’t used Cortana so no opinion on it). I mean, I prefer what Google offers but I’ve used some of MS’s stuff because work requires it and it’s actually not bad at all.

  22. This is where it should be going. When you biy a handset you should be able to get a choice between windows or android. All the hardware on these devices are so similar anyway so I’ve never understood why this hasn’t happened anyway. I feel like drivers for the hardware wouldn’t be difficult to build.

  23. So Xiaomi is in bed with MS. Only more reason to avoid their stuff. I don’t see the benefits in me using MS software because I’m so deep in the Google ecosystem. Why not just buy a MS device? Those things are easily found for $50 and you can sell your Android device and profit.

  24. So Xiaomi is in bed with MS. Only more reason to avoid their stuff. I don’t see the benefits in me using MS software because I’m so deep in the Google ecosystem. Why not just buy a MS device? Those things are easily found for $50 and you can sell your Android device and profit.

  25. Lol: “Are they simply bored?”

  26. I’d far rather have Android running on decent Windows Phone hardware than vice versa.

    If only Nokia hadn’t jumped into bed with Microsoft… *sigh*

  27. That seems really unlikely. A new home replacement? Sure.

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