Mixing Windows 8 and Android on the same device is a bad move

Mixing Windows 8 and Android on the same device is a bad move

Summary: Installing an Android emulator onto a Windows 8 PC is not the way to go to plaster over the gaps in Microsoft's app ecosystem.


Lenovo has partnered with Bluestacks Android App Player to allow Windows 8 users to run Android apps on its Idea-branded consumer PCs. While this could be seen as innovative by bridging the gap between the two platforms, in the long run it's a bad idea all round.

Here's the deal.

The idea itself is not particularly new. The Android App Player is an emulator that you can load onto Windows, or OS X to allow the system to run Android apps. It's a handy tool that allows people to bridge a gap between two platforms, and possibly carry only once device as opposed to two.

The first problem I have with this set up is that it is taking a system that's running one operating system and fragmenting it into three layers -- Windows 8, the Android emulator, and the Android apps. For power users, juggling between these and keeping everything updated will be a breeze, but for the average user keeping track of everything -- especially when it comes to security updates or sorting out problems -- can quickly become a huge headache.

This argument is the same argument that I have against users running virtual machines on systems. Power users can manage this fine, so can users who have the backing of IT staff, but I've seen regular users -- home and enterprise alike -- steer themselves into the tarpits.

See alsoAnalyst: Windows 8 hardware 'overpriced' and offers 'no clear benefit in switching from iOS or Android'

Another problem with pre-installing a product like the Android App Player on a PC is that it gives users the false hope that the system is going to work just like an Android device would. Even the best emulation is still emulation, and it is never perfect.

Android already suffers enough from fragmentation problems without adding emulators into the mix.

Another problem I have with this is that Lenovo is pushing a product that Bluestacks openly claims is a "beta" -- it's right there on the download page -- at its customers. Not only is Lenovo pushing a third-party product at users, that product remains in beta-testing and has yet to be finalized. Color me cynical, but that feels like a recipe for some serious problems to me.

Finally, the Bluestacks Android App Player is not new or specific to Lenovo devices. It's software that anyone can download and install on their Mac or PC. Plenty of power users already use the Android App Player.

What Lenovo is doing feels to me like the company is trying to plaster over the gaps in Microsoft's app store by giving its users access to the far more mature Android app ecosystem. While this is great for power users, this is exactly the sort of thing that can give users the wrong impression as to what Windows 8 and the Android platforms are capable of doing.

Trying to fix the shortcomings of one platform by shoehorning another alongside it is not good for anyone. It's not good for Microsoft because it is highlighting its failings when it comes to creating an app ecosystem. It is not good for Android because it will give users a patchy experience. And it is not good for app developers who may be blamed for problems that are nothing to do with the app itself but instead the way it is being run.

Power users will already be aware of the limitations of emulation, regular users won't. In the hands of power users, it's a valuable resource. In the hands of regular users, it's a recipe for disaster.

Topics: Android, Lenovo, Windows 8

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  • I agree

    It is a novel concept, but I was not impressed with bluestacks. Some may enjoy it and more power to them, but it wasn't a clean experience. Uninstalling it was an even worse experience.
  • Agree.

    The number for quality apps for Android that can run on tablets are not much. Windows 8 already has close to 50,000 apps and in few months time that number is going to grow exponentially. There won't be the so called app-gap in few months time.

    Also android UI is no match for Windows 8's beautiful UI.
    There is no need to bring Android apps and compromising the security of Win 8 devices.
    • Android has over 610,000 Apps

      LOL @ the paid Microshill!

      Android has over a 610,000 apps you liar!
      Asok Smith
      • Wrong Asok Smith

        While I love Android - you are wrong. They have over 610,000 apps but much less Tablet apps.
        • Figures?

          So how many don't work on tablets?

          You must have figures, you stated it was much less?
          Little Old Man
        • Did he even say how many apps android had?

          I think asok is losing it.
      • Wha?

        I am pretty sure there are more applications available for my Windows 8 computer than any Android system.
        x I'm tc
        • number of apps makes little difference if

          few are useful.

          Out of the 610,000 apps listed, how many are really useful or popular?

          Chances are the first 50k apps that support MS products cover 99% of the Android apps people use on a regular basis.

          Fighting about numbers is not only pointless, it shows how out of touch with reality so many people really are.
      • Over 610,000 apps.

        How many useful apps? I mean at some point you end up with apps that do the same thing that other apps do. How many fart apps do you need? The issue isn't number of apps. It's quality. I'd like to see some of the more popular apps on windows 8 like instagram and Pandora. I could give a damn about raw numbers.
        • Duplicates and worthless apps can inflate

          You are exactly right. If there were more than a few hundred truly useful apps, my phone wouldn't have any unused space to install more. One of the columnists here did a blog a few months ago about a silly, worthless (IMO) app he designed for the iphone. The app was blatantly copied (even down to the wording of the description) many times by others who simply stole it and re-marketed it as their own. Finally, the author expanded on the theme of his largely useless app and put out several iterations using different topics. So one, largely useless app, turns into dozens.

          "Number of apps" is not a stat that impresses me in the least.
    • Bluestacks runs more than tablet apps

      Bluestacks will run many phone apps that aren't phone specific, including a significant number of games that aren't available in the MS app store. Your premise is incorrect.
    • You are improving

      Instead of posting silly vitriol and bile about Google and Android, now you are making more sense by saying you are saying you are a MS fanboy. Keep up the good work.
      Van Der
  • Well you are thinking from one side of the view

    I too don't like the idea, but in the long run it gives an idea to developers, which App is the most demanding on Android platform and they could port it to Windows 8 and WP8. The other thing is, since it is running in an emulator, I think the security concern is limited to emulator only (I am not sure if Blue Stacks blew it).

    I wonder how many people (that includes "You") wouldn't curse the innocent in this case Microsoft and Windows 8, for their information theft for a rogue app on Android App Player. This proves the ability of main course Operating Systems such as Windows 8, Linux or OSX. These Operating Systems are flexible enough to adopt anything.

    The major con of this is, so called internet pundits aka AKH, SJVN etc., and "anal"ysts run all over the world, that Windows 8 screwed their daily life simply forgetting the actual fact that they had downloaded a "rogue" app without thinking second time and run it to screw themselves.
    Ram U
  • to the author

    This is a serious request. Please give me a quick rundown of those apps you have on android that you must have that dont already have a counterpart in the windows store
    Master Wayne
    • or windows itself for that matter

      Most of the functionality in the most popular apps already exists for windows / linux/ osx so there is no need to emulate an android version. Just install the version made for your OS.
    • My wife uses it for a number of games

      Came preinstalled on her Asus laptop, and she enjoys a number of games that last time I checked were not in the MS app store.
    • There are a few

      Google maps for one. Yes there are alternatives, but google maps is really the creme de la creme of maps.

      There is also facebook, that social network with a billion registered users.

      Youtube too is missing, that and google maps, when released were the top free apps on the iTunes store, people want these things, and they don't have them with windows 8.
      • really?

        why do you need apps for facebook, google maps, or youtube? seems like if you're on a tablet or pc you just-wait for it- type the name of the site in your browser bar. mind blowing? i know. i'm what you call an innovator.
        • Amazing really

          Amazing really this whole native app thing ever came about. why aren't we all just using web apps? by golly.

          Well you aren't going to get turn by turn navigation on the google maps web app. So perhaps one of the best features of google maps missing might put some people off, wouldn't you say?

          Youtube. While flash is out and HTML5 is getting better, it still does not beat being able to stream the file without these extra layers. Better performance. But who needs reliable performance when watching a video anyway?

          The facebook app, beyond being slightly more convenient than using the browser, has contact integration. Certain fields from facebook contacts are filled in to missing fields in my phone's contacts, events are placed into the calendar. Simple, but extremely handy when you realise you need to send someone an email, and never physically placed their email into your contacts.

          So you can poo poo the apps you don't get on windows phone, and pretend it doesn't matter, but there are real advantages to having those apps. Thats why everyone downloads them. Or you could snarkily pretend that using a web page is innovative.
        • what about off line navigation?

          What happens if you want to use Sygic? Or Navfree? You are stuck somewhere and do not have a cell signal? What about LSD lat long converter (Of course this may be region specific and user specific) Browser is not an all encompassing answer for every purpose and day to day life. What about Topo maps?. Well.. all these may become available for Win8 phones. But.. till that day becomes a reality, I would say there is a vast area that needs improvement to even compare to android app echo system. Alss, the duplicate apps that exists in android app store is not useless as some might point out. Because it is choice. Two different people may not like the same app even if it serves the same purpose.