Windows 10 to allow easy porting of apps from Android and iOS platforms

Consumer-facing startups such as online grocery stores and food suppliers may end their bias against Windows for offering mobile apps, as they expect the upcoming version of Microsoft’s operating system to open up access to a new set of customers with minimal effort.

Windows 10, which will be released on July 29 for PCs and tablets, followed by an update for smartphones, will enable developers to port apps from Android and iOS platforms with very little effort. The update will be freely available across all Microsoft devices and will enable developers to make apps that work on not just on phones and tablets, but PCs as well. App developers were going slow on Windows because the thin base of smartphone users on the platform didn’t entice them to spend time and money.

Faaso’s, the food-on-demand chain which is moving away from its physical stores into apps, hasn’t updated its Windows app for months now, citing bandwidth issues. “As soon as portability is made available, we will update the Windows app, as we do have a loyal customer base there,” said cofounder Revant Bhate. Android-only food ordering app Spoonjoy has submitted its upcoming iOS app for review and is working on a Windows version.

Crownit, a deal discovery and cashback platform, said it has been getting frequent requests asking for a Windows app. It is natural for a Windows smartphone user to feel ignored in a city like Bengaluru, with apps including Grofers, BigBasket, Crownit, Freshmenu, Practo, Tinyowl and News in Shorts, which have a strong presence here, turning a blind eye on them.

And in smaller cities and towns, it is worse. App developers prefer Android because of its brutal leadership in the market – in India, the platform holds a 91% share. Still, some 10.75 million people were on Windows phones in India as of March 2015, show Counterpoint Research data. Its market share increased to 5% from 2.5% at the end of 2014, driven by the Lumia phones, the research firm said.

In India, Apple’s iOS is No. 3, behind Android and Windows. But app developers still find it attractive. “Apple has premium users. So, even if it’s a small market, it plays a good role,” said Azhar Iqubal, cofounder of News in Shorts, which now has iOS app.

Some players now see Windows as an opportunity. It is an unexplored, but growing, market. Grofers, the app that allows consumers to order online from local shops and get express deliveries, for instance, started hiring developers for Windows as it expanded in small cities. Albinder Dhindsa, cofounder, said the number of requests it received for the introduction of a Windows app had been substantially high after it moved into new cities.

But it is not easy. “It is also a little more difficult to find developers for Windows than it is for Android,” said Dhindsa. Microsoft says things will become smooth. “Initially, these apps (once ported) will work exactly like the counterparts (Android or iOS). But, later, they will be able to make use of Windows features (such as live-tile feature),” said Harish Vaidyanathan, director of Independent Software Vendor programmes at Microsoft.

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