As a bit of an underdog in the smartphone OS game, it’s important for Windows Phone to attract as many new users as possible. Some of those could be people who are making the plunge with smartphones for the very first time, but a large fraction of potential Windows Phone users are smartphone owners currently using other platforms. That can make it tricky to entice them to try out something new, but Microsoft has an idea cooked-up that might go a long way towards convincing some to give it a shot.
Microsoft sees apps as a major stumbling block in getting users to switch to a new smartphone OS. When you’ve already assembled a collection of apps you regularly use, including many you’ve purchased, the thought of losing all those and having to start fresh on a new OS can be a real turn-off. A patent application reveals Microsoft’s proposed solution to the problem, automating a process to transition app collections from one platform to another.
The system starts by scanning the “legacy” smartphone, collecting information on installed apps. When direct ports exist for the new platform, the system selects them, and when they don’t, it attempts to identify comparable apps with similar functionality. After identifying all these new apps, it would give the user the chance to easily install them all with just a click.
That sounds like a great idea, but we’re not sure how realistic some of it may be. Microsoft’s patent application talks about dealing with purchased apps by trying to secure deals with developers that would let users who had previously bought an app for a legacy platform get it for free or at a discount on the new platform. While we’d love to see that happen, we imagine that’s going to be quite the hard sell. There’s also the issue of moving data from old apps to the new ones, which could be a trickier technical challenge than Microsoft lets on.
Even with those bumps, the rest of the idea is promising, and we’d love to see Microsoft actually develop it into a usable product.