Microsoft has a mobile problem. Despite being one of the first companies to see that the future was in mobile computing (it released the mobile operating system Win CE back in 1996, and Bill Gates predicted the modern smartphone back in 1999), Microsoft has never had much luck getting its mobile gadgets mainstream.
Its efforts improved enormously with Windows Phone 7 and 8, and Windows 10 Mobile is actually very good, with strong hardware. Unfortunately, it's dealing with the entrenched Apple and Android, and it has one huge weakness: apps.
Windows Phone and Windows Mobile aren't compatible with existing apps on the market, which means developers have to create new ones. That leads to a Catch-22 where people aren't going to buy a smartphone without apps, and developers aren't going to make apps for a platform with no users.
Hence, Microsoft still hasn't had much success, and its app library has been growing only very slowly. However, some recent developments are changing that.
With Windows 10 and its universal apps, developers can now create a single app that works on Windows computers, tablets, smartphones and soon the Xbox One.
Microsoft has also updated its programming tools to make it much easier for developers to adapt Apple and Android apps for Windows. It even had a system that would let Android apps run on Windows as-is, but has put that on indefinite hold.
Still, not many people are going to switch from Apple or Android if a Windows phone doesn't have the apps they use. That's why Microsoft has just released a free Android app called AppComparison.
AppComparison scans the apps on your phone and matches them with apps in the Windows Store. So, if the same app is available you'll see that, and if not it will find a close match. You can see before switching what apps you can use and which ones you'll have to give up, if only temporarily.
Do you think this will be enough to save Microsoft in the smartphone market? Would you switch to Windows 10 Mobile if it ran your favorite apps? Let us know in the comments.