The next PC game-changer: The Android-powered PC

The next PC game-changer: The Android-powered PC

Summary: The PC industry is stagnating, with consumers shifting to iOS and Android-powered tablets and smartphones. If consumers like Android so much — currently over 1.5 million new devices are activated daily — then why not give them Android-powered PCs?

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TOPICS: Android
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So far, the notebook market is dominated by two players, Windows and OS X, but there's an operating system that could drop into this mix and be highly disruptive — Android.

There's been a lot of discussion bouncing around the tech blogosphere about Intel's plans to get all disruptive and start supporting Android on devices that will cost in the region of $200.

While Microsoft might not be happy about being sidelined by a company that was once one of its biggest supporters, this is exactly what the PC industry needs.

Think this is a huge leap? It isn't. Some of Intel's Atom processors are already compatible with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.

PCs aren't selling, and partly, this is down to price. PCs as we know them aren't cheap, and part of the reason for this is how much Microsoft charges for Windows licenses. OEMs tell me that even with the new Windows 8 price cuts, it's hard to compete with free operating systems.

Android is "free". iOS is "free". OS X is "free". (Technically, none are free, but the consumer price is $0.) Windows is not, and increasingly, price-conscious consumers are asking what Microsoft is giving them in exchange for their dollars.

Given the way that buyers (consumers and enterprise alike) have embraced Android on smartphones and tablets — activations of new devices sit at 1.5 million daily, or 45 million every month — it makes sense to give consumers what they want, and put this operating system onto notebooks, convertibles, and hybrid systems.

And why leave it there? Why not go the whole way and put Android onto desktop systems?

But what about Chrome OS? Doesn't this operating system fill in any gap that's potentially left for Android?

I don't think it does, because Chrome OS is all about cloud services and buying into the Google ecosystem. Android on the other hand, is more open and allows users to take more control over their data and apps. While an all-cloud existence works for some, having apps, local storage, and a flourishing Google Play Store are compelling.

And at $200, PCs suddenly become attractive in a way that they weren't before. A PC in every room starts to become a reality, and this is good for both OEMs who sell the hardware, and good for developers who suddenly have a whole new platform to develop for.

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Topic: Android

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  • The editor is highly recommended to seek professional help !!!

    Cite :"Android is free. iOS is free. OS X is free. Windows is not,"

    If a "FREE" OS is so great and helpful, where are all the Linux powered laptops and PCs ?
    Apart from that ... iOS and OSX are free (!) ?
    EnticingHavoc
    • Linux is a part of your life, but hidden.

      How many devices do you use on a daily basis running linux? It is hard to say, but many. Trains/subways, NY stock exchange,most city traffic control, some automobile (Toyota), Air traffic control, over 60% of all websites (not just small businesses), and nearly all dvr and smart TV's. So "where are all the Linux powered laptops and PCs? " under the hood of many of the things we depend on daily.
      alex_darkness
      • *sigh*

        Adrian's article was NOT about Trains/subways, NY stock exchange,most city traffic control, some automobile (Toyota), Air traffic control, over 60% of all websites (not just small businesses), and nearly all dvr and smart TV's. Adrian's article was about *PCs*. It's right there in the headline - you didn't even have to read the article.

        No one is arguing that Linux is heavily involved in the back end and embedded systems that power daily life. Adrian wasn't addressing that. What he was addressing was desktop (and laptop) computers, and how if THOSE started to get powered by Android that it would possibly be disruptive to Windows sales in that arena.

        What EnticingHavoc was stating was that Adrian's point of desktop Linux being free (as in cost-free) hasn't been disruptive to Windows thus far, and resultantly is questioning the original premise of the article stating that "cheaper than Windows" does not appear to equate to "more desirable than Windows" in the minds of most consumers.

        People don't buy routers because they want something running Linux, they're buying a magical box that allows multiple computers to connect to their cable modem. People don't buy Toyotas because they run Linux, they buy a car with a magical console inside of it that gives directions and plays Pandora. People don't buy plane tickets because the air traffic control systems run on Linux, they buy plane tickets because they need to get somewhere. The fact that these things run on Linux is incidental.

        Joey
        voyager529
        • Why do all these devices run Linux?

          If cost (as in free) isn't the factor then what is? Is Linux just better than Windows? The reason Router and other devices don't use Windows is nobody wants to pay double for the Windows version of a router. Router are a perfect example because of their low cost (which is what the article is saying about PC/laptops). Assuming the same hardware (for this exercise)Android Tablet 200$ compared to Windows Tablet 250$. Since they are the same hardware they look identical, which would people pick up off the self? Cost is no incidental to consumers.

          "What EnticingHavoc was stating was that Adrian's point of desktop Linux being free (as in cost-free) hasn't been disruptive to Windows thus far" isn't true on the server side and what he is saying is that Android makes Linux user friendly on the desktop side. Which is a good point.
          alex_darkness
          • About 2 million Android devices per day

            216 million smartphones were sold during Q1 2013. 152 million (70%) were Android. Some 49.2 million tablets were sold during the same period. About 27.8 million (56,5%) were Android. Total Android figures ~ 180 million. That means average ~2 million Android-devices per day.

            At the same time some 75-80 million pc were sold. 60% of them with pre-installed Windows-license. It means 45-48 million Windows pre-installed pc. Some 10 million Windows mobiles were sold at the same time.

            Android vs. Windows rate of new devices is about 3:1 now.
            Frankie1965
          • microsoft sucks

            microsoft sucks
            Android is eating the apple, and now will break the windows!
            Henrique Dourado
          • You're totally wrong, alex_darkness

            The reason why nobody uses Windows to run a router is because it is a proprietary OS, unlike Linux which the router maker can strip apart as needed. MS isn't going to give up their source code.

            In reality, calling it Linux is a bit of a stretch in some cases as it is so heavily modified and changed for the use at hand it probably resembles Linux in a small sense of the word.

            Oh, and how many free routers and TV's are on the market at the moment?
            William Farrel
          • Bingo...

            and thank you.
            ScanBack
          • Do you know the difference in Software and Hardware?

            Router are affordable because the source code is available and not licensed. If they had to pay license fee that would be another 20-50$ on the price of a router. Not calling it Linux because it is modified is a cheap excuse. They get their Kernel and the bulk of their code from an open source. That is why these devices are affordable. When Microsoft makes a router Kernel available to OEM for free then I will give them their due.
            alex_darkness
          • He's right, alex

            "Router are affordable because the source code is available and not licensed. If they had to pay license fee that would be another 20-50$ on the price of a router"

            But he said MS doesn't open their OS (give out their source code) because they don't need to. It has nothing to do with affordability of the hardware. There is also Windows embedded, which is less expensive, and that is used in a lot of low cost devices.

            As for not resembling Linux after the work is done, I think he means that a lot of people think they throw Ubuntu in the router and off they go! Cisco or who ever take the open source kernel and custom write code on top of that. Microsoft won't open source their kernel, so it's not a consideration.

            It's not about MS is offering their kernel for all to use and no one is taking it, it's about MS not offering it up at all.
            DontUseGoogleAtAll!
          • Because people interact with them differently.

            "If cost (as in free) isn't the factor then what is?"
            The nature of the device. Free doesn't hurt, but it's more than that. In the case of routers and DVRs, you're looking at purpose-built units designed to perform a single task consistently and reliably. Windows is designed to be run on a desktop, so it assumes you'll have desktop components. It's stupid to require 2GB of RAM and a Core i5 to route packets and share printers on a network with a dozen devices, tops (within three standard deviations).

            "Is Linux just better than Windows?"
            Linux has its strengths, and its weaknesses. Windows has its strengths, and its weaknesses.

            "The reason Router and other devices don't use Windows is nobody wants to pay double for the Windows version of a router."
            Wrong. It's because Windows isn't designed to reliably perform switching and routing tasks on a 300MHz processor with 16MBytes of ROM. Linux can be sufficiently modified to do this.

            "Router are a perfect example because of their low cost (which is what the article is saying about PC/laptops)."
            Routers are a shoddy example because people don't interact with their router in the same way that they interact with their desktop or laptop. This holds true for the majority of things that people interact with running Linux. Linux is much better than Windows at powering appliances. That doesn't make it a drop-in replacement for the desktop for many consumers.

            "Assuming the same hardware (for this exercise)Android Tablet 200$ compared to Windows Tablet 250$. Since they are the same hardware they look identical, which would people pick up off the self?"
            That depends on what the user can or can't run. Sure, cost plays into it but it's not the only factor.

            "Cost is no [sic] incidental to consumers."
            No, but based on your logic, when Wal-Mart tried to introduce Suse-based desktops a few years back, consumers would have flocked to them because it was cheaper...and it's what their router and auto nav system runs. No, I think that if Android can run reasonably well on x86 that it might actually take Windows to task, since the build could be free, users would likely be familiar with it, and the availability of easy-to-install apps and its ability to perform the core tasks for which they need a desktop computer.

            ""What EnticingHavoc was stating was that Adrian's point of desktop Linux being free (as in cost-free) hasn't been disruptive to Windows thus far" isn't true on the server side"
            Oh dear God. Let's try this again:

            Adrian's point of
            ****** --- [b]DESKTOP[/b]!!!!!!! --- ******
            Linux

            Desktop Linux and SERVER Linux are two entirely different markets. Desktop does NOT equal "everything that has a CPU and RAM to ever exist". Adrian did not use the word "server" anywhere in the article, even once.

            "and what he is saying is that Android makes Linux user friendly on the desktop side. Which is a good point."
            I don't disagree...except it HASN'T done this yet. Android doesn't exist as an x86 operating system in any significant capacity, and certainly isn't coming from any major OEM. Conversely, ARM on the desktop isn't exactly ubiquitous, either. In theory it could be an excellent platform, but as yet, Android and Windows run on completely different architectures and serve two different needs. On top of that, "Making something user friendly" isn't the only consideration. That works if the only thing holding back mass market adoption of desktop linux is its difficulty to use, but there are a few other issues. Driver support is better than it used to be, but still inconsistent. Existing muscle memory and software libraries are generally geared toward Windows, though that is changing. Document formats are not always universal; .DOC is essentially a solved problem but .PUB and .PSD are not. Printer support is inconsistent, and the price benefit goes out the window if users need to buy a new printer to use with their new Android tablet, or keep their old Windows tower around as a print server.

            I look forward to Android on x86 becoming a daily reality. At the moment though, it isn't there, cost isn't the only thing keeping it from the market, users don't care what OS their appliances run, and Android may at some point find itself facing the same image problem with which Windows is finding itself.

            Joey
            voyager529
          • Some Correction for Voyager529

            A few corrections on your article to consider.

            First, the real Linux usage as found by web Site monitors is around 10% to 15% and has been slowly climbing up from 1% for the last decade. The usual figures quoted are sales figures. Very few Linux desktop computers were sold with Linux.

            Second, most computers for personal use are shipped with some version of Windows. the OEM price for Windows is in the neighborhood of $35.00. That is then added to the assembled price of the computer. Then, the software commonly referred to as C R apware is added. Each piece of this software is paid for in the addition. The total package often comes to around $80.00 for the OEM. The net result is that the computer with the lowest current Windows version is often around $50.00 less expensive than the price of a 'bare metal' or a Linux pre-installed machine.

            This means that NEARLY ALL OF THE DESKTOP LINUX MACHINES ARE COUNTED AS WINDOWS MACHINES in nearly every 'survey'. There is no way to find and include all these machines in the real desktop usage figures. So, any desktop numbers are guaranteed to be inaccurate.

            Microsoft's own figures for the SEC indicate that Windows total usage is down below 75% of the market. Microsoft knows how many Windows users are out there because Windows 'Phones Home'.

            Even then, it's an open question. The majority of Linux users 'dual boot'. That means that they can be counted twice. So the total in operating system usage will add up to around 110% if done accurately.

            I am one of these dual booters. do I use Windows or desktop Linux? the answer is YES I do. So do a great many others on this forum. You may even be one of them.

            Third, the reputed price point for a tablet is much too high. Adrian is talking of a stable price point of $200.00. Apple is currently priced around $400.00, and there, is just a bit higher than the competing Samsung Galaxy products. But, that is only a bit lower than the lowest usable notebook price. The stable price for a tablet is much lower than that.

            I paid $69.00 for my Android tablet. It is a 7" ICS Android tablet by "MID". Probably made by a cut rate outfit in China. It only has 1280 X 800 pixel resolution, Bluetooth and WiFi. No Cellular Networks. But, that's OK. It also only has a back facing camera. That's OK too.

            Figuring that a middleman was cut out, then, that means that a 7" tablet should be priced at around $100.00, and a 10" tablet should be priced at around $150.00.

            Those should be the price points to consider. And no, Windows is much too expensive to compete with Android when margins get that low. So, I believe that within two years, Android will dominate tablets.

            But, Fourth, Android is not an Operating System. It is a shell designed to run programs written in a dialect of Java.

            Linux runs many different shells. Some are 'arcane' like the 'command line', some are very like Windows or Apple shells both past and present. A few are even like where Windows and Apple are headed. I could easily see an Android based computer sold, but, without the ability to access a different shell, it would be of very limited use.

            Ubuntu is more likely to be the way out of that problem, but, SUSE and Mandriva should not be left out. Even Red Hat might try for a bit of that action.

            Using a stock Linux system, you have a system that can not only run concurrent programs, but it also can run many simultaneous users, it can also run many different disk systems and many different processors at the same time. To really get the full power from it, you have to know quite a bit.

            As always, controlling great power and great flexibility can get complicated.

            Really, Linux is just too powerful for most users. They need a more limited system. A system like Windows or OSX.
            YetAnotherBob
          • You are also missing something

            these are specialized applications that a company needs a base OS to work with - i.e. Linux... thus is popularity is a lot of specialized areas.
            ScanBack
          • Quick and Dirty Operating System

            Tim Paterson was 24 years old and asked to do a rush job for an OS. He wrote what he named QDOS in 60 days. This is what Bill Gates bought as the foundation to Windows.

            Unix on the other hand was written by a teams of bearded scientist working closely at AT&T Bell Laboratories. These are the very same people who invented the transistor and solid state devices. That's why *nux can run on and size device. Whether it be a Super computer or something which can fit in a thimble.
            Tim Jordan
          • UNIX and DOS-based Windows...

            " He wrote what he named QDOS in 60 days. This is what Bill Gates bought as the foundation to Windows. "

            Windows being Windows 3.1, 95, 98, Millennium... not at all related to Windows NT, which powers the current iteration of Windows (and is now in its third major iteration since the entire line went NT-based).

            "Unix on the other hand was written by a teams of bearded scientist working closely at AT&T Bell Laboratories. These are the very same people who invented the transistor and solid state devices. That's why *nux can run on and size device. Whether it be a Super computer or something which can fit in a thimble."

            And yet, some 22-year-old kid in his basement decided to write an operating system that looked and worked a lot like Unix (but wasn't Unix and still isn't Unix). While there are some descendents of Unix still out there (BSD, Mac OS X, certain BSD-based router firmware), its use has been largely supplanted in every major industry by that 22-year-old kid's basement side-project.
            daftkey
          • Linux was a Black Box Project

            Linus Torvalds wrote the first Linux kernel after taking a class in Operating Systems Design. The class used Minix, and also a copy of the original Unix code. Unix itself was loosely based on Multics. An earlier Operating System.

            The project took off when patches started coming in. The Linux of today has nearly none of the original versions code. It has all been replaced over the years. The modern Linux Kernel is a large product of literally over a Million experts, each examining and improving their own specific domain.

            No single company or viable group of companies could reproduce what Linux has.

            The international Standard (and American Standard ANSI) for Unix is called Posix. Linux IS Posix compliant, and thus can properly be called Unix. It is not, however directly descended from the first Unix system. Windows is also partially Posix compliant.

            Posix describes the input/output methods and APIs. if a C program that runs on a standard Unix system is compiled on Linux, than, that program will run on Linux. That is the level of interoperability that Unix originally had (and sometimes still does). Linux is actually more Posix compliant than some versions of Unix.

            PS, the C programming language was the originally intended tool for program compatibility between machines of different Architectures.

            PSS Windows NT attempted to get real preemptive multitasking by running as a shell in a modified version of the old VMS operating system. VMS was also a descendent of the Multics project. Windows 8 is just as much a VMS system as OSX is a Unix system. Both Apple and Microsoft gained preemptive multitasking by using other older operating systems. Linux always had that. But, Linux also has capabilities for multiple operators, and for multiple processors. Much more so than either Apple or Windows. That last is why Linux has no real competitors in the large server and supercomputer spaces.

            Linux is also well documented, and very modular. That is why Linux works so well in the embeded spaces. it's just easier as well as cheaper to rip out whatever you don't need.
            YetAnotherBob
          • My programming team

            told me that Unix was written as a joke by the guys at AT&T Bell. Were my guys spinning me a tale? I tend to agree with them because the base-level editor was simply CRAP and most commands were just plain strange. Anyone care to set me straight because although it sounds like an urban myth there's a small kernel of truth in it.
            KRP1950
          • Unix History

            KRP1950,

            In 1968, Bell Labs researcher Ken Thompson was given an old PDP minicomputer to work with. There was only one problem. The minicomputer didn't have an operating system, nor would the lab provide one.

            Mr. Thompson (one of the 10 most respected computer experts in history) had recently finished a two year stint working with many other experts on a new multi-user operating system that could run more than one program at a time (apparently) called Multics.

            He knew that he wanted the capabilities that he had had with Multics (which ran on a large 'mainframe computer'). He also wanted to play 'Star Trek'. To do that, he needed an operating system.

            It took him around 3 months to write an operating system in Assembly Language for the PDP. Then, he showed the program to an associate (Dennis Richie, another of the All Time Greats in the field). Richie had just finished a programming language he called C. (The standard joke is that it was called C because it was the third attempt. A and B were just not good enough!)

            Richie and Thompson then began to try to recode the limited use operating system in the C language. That took the two of them around two weeks. They then had a bare bones operating system that ran one game, one compiler and one very primitive text editor.

            They had needed an editor for text. The compiler input was simple text. That editor became the VI line editor. That is probably the editor you encountered. VI is somewhat arcane. It has two modes. One is Command Mode, the other is Text Mode. You operate on a single line at a time, making whatever changes you wish.

            Commands for the Unix system were originally each a short program.

            There is a Philosophy in Unix that every program should do only one thing, and do it well. Data is usually stored in Text format, so that it can be used by any of the short programs. Tables are usually in "Comma delimited" format.

            As the months rolled by, more commands were added. Also at some point the third of the Three Greats entered the scene, that was Brian Kernigan.

            After about six months as an unguided research project, they tried to get a task for Unix. The name originally came from Eunuchs, a play on words for the limited system that was no longer limited. The three found a use for the system. That use was in filing patents. word Processors were not yet invented. But, the system they had could 'fill in the blanks' on a patent filing, and make the typewritten entry for the claims while still allowing for error correction before printing. It was a success for AT&T.

            Since there was an anti-trust ruling out that AT&T could not sell computers or software for computers, they just gave the systems away to friends at various universities.

            By the mid 1970's, graduates who had worked with Unix at the University level were out and bringing Unix to jobsites. Unix was ported (translated to machine language for) most computer Architectures. The original team at Bell Labs incorporated most of the changes back into the system and sent the C files out to the colleges that were working with them.

            Most of the 'standard' commands have 'strange names' because they are abbreviated from much longer descriptions of the program.

            Key to working with Unix is the 'Pipe' system. Using any 'shell', the data can be sent from one program to another. That means that a good Unix person can link up any command he/she wants to accomplish anything with text type data.

            During the early 1980's, while the PC was beginning to become a business resource, Unix pretty much took over the larger computers in most corporations. It even gave the mainframe computers a run for their money.

            From that time, one joke says that a CEO asked his two top computer people to solve a particular problem.

            The first IT guy, a Windows expert. went and researched the market for a program that would do what the CEO wanted. There was no such program. Then he came back and said "It can't be done."

            About an hour later, the second IT guy, the Unix operator laid a thick printout on the CEO's desk and said "Here it is, sorry for the delay, but I went out to lunch."

            It just emphasizes the difference in approach. The Unix philosophy doesn't like depending on canned programs for everything. Windows users want complete solutions.

            With that said, it is sad that the Windows style of canned programs with hidden data structures is now so entrenched, even in Unix systems.

            Does this help you?

            If you are using Unix for your work or play, explore the facility for redirecting commands. You can remap the commands to be some name that is easier for you to remember. Your Editor, for instance, can be called "Edit". When you type Edit in your screen, the shell will replace "Edit" with the specific start-up for you favorite editor.

            Really, only the System Administrator should be forced to use Vi. However, Vi is probably more powerful than the editor you are using, if you just learn to use it.

            There are whole books written about Unix history, and about the commands that are commonly available on a standard Unix system.

            If you care for that sort of thing, you can do anything that a word processor program or spreadsheet can do right from the command line.

            You probably don't want to go that far into it.
            YetAnotherBob
          • Hmm...

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but C is called C because it was developed after B (related to BCPL) an early systems programming language.

            Also I think he's referring to "ed", "vi" was written by Bill Joy at Sun Microsystems (now Oracle).
            jeremychappell
          • Myth

            It wasn't "a joke", however there is a grain of truth in there.

            The name "Unix" is a joke. When they were writing it there was an OS called "Multics". Multics is a multitasking, multiuser OS. In the early days (before it was released) Unix was neither of these, so that's where the name came from. Of course, Unix as we know it is multitasking and multiuser, plus most people have forgotten Multics - so it's rather less funny.

            There is a tradition of humorous naming in Unix, "less" for example. A lot of commands just sound funny because the stand for things: 'awk' and 'grep' are examples of things that seem like they might be funny.

            Unix was written over quite a period by lots of programmers, so there is little "standardisation" in the command syntax (flags in particular). Yes, this is at least "unfortunate".

            When Unix was developed teleprinters were still very common, the base editor is designed for that. Yes, it's horrible, but you'd not want to use a "modern" editor with a teleprinter (especially if you are the one paying for the paper).

            Unix was written by engineers who are considered as giants in the industry (and I share this opinion) and Unix/C are a large part of their legend.
            jeremychappell