Windows and Android on one PC? Here's how AMD and Intel plan to do it

Windows and Android on one PC? Here's how AMD and Intel plan to do it

Summary: Intel and partners are going to be bringing us PCs that run both Android and Windows 8.1. Meanwhile, AMD and its partner BlueStacks will enable users to run Android and its apps on Windows.


Intel didn't make a big deal of it at its CES press conference, but the chip giant announced that, with the help its OEM partners, the company will soon release PCs that run both Android and Windows 8.1 at the same time. They weren't  the only ones with dual operating systems. AMD announced that with its partner BlueStacks, it will bring the complete Android experience to Windows- based tablets, 2-in-1s, notebooks and desktops.

AMD, with BlueStacks, will let you run the full Android interface, on top of Windows 8.

This news comes on top of HP and Lenovo's announcements that they'll be releasing out-and-out, pure Android desktops for both home and business users. The day before this Asus released its Transformer Book Duet that runs both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2.

With Intel, AMD, HP, Lenovo, and Asus all throwing their weight behind Android on the desktop, this isn't just a shot in the dark. Serious businesses believe that Android has a real role on the desktop. For that matter, Microsoft—of all companies!—seems to think people will want a dual-boot Android/Windows smartphone.

Intel, however, isn't telling us much about how they'll marry Android and Windows with Dual OS. The one model that currently uses it, the Asus Transformer Book Duet, lets you jump from one operating system to the other with the press of a button.

AMD has been much more forthcoming. "Windows and Android are both mature operating systems, each satisfying the needs of millions of users,” said Steve Belt, AMD's corporate VP of Product Management in a statement. "Users whose devices and preferences span the two ecosystems no longer have to face device-specific restrictions on the benefits of one ecosystem or the other because AMD and BlueStacks have created a seamless user experience between the operating systems. Now users have access to all the apps, games, communications and content consumption they love on their Android mobile devices right at their fingertips, while getting important productivity tasks or high-end PC gaming accomplished on their Windows PC."

BlueStacks does this, not by using a virtual machine (VM) per se, but by running an emulation of Android Dalvik on top of Windows. It can be slow on older systems, but it works well on today's modern hardware.

On its systems, AMD claims that users won't have to run just Android apps on Windows. Instead, they'll be able to use the familiar Android user interface, including settings, configuration and customization controls instead of using Windows 8's Metro. They'll also be able to run Android apps within a window or at full-screen resolution thanks to AMD Radeon graphics processing power.

AMD claims that with people running Windows on desktops and Android on tablets—there's no love for Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets here—the "obvious solution is to eliminate the gap between Windows and Android."

Is there? Really? Intel and AMD clearly agree that people want dual operating systems, but I'm not sure there's really much demand for hybrid operating system PCs. There's Windows 8.1 desktops, of course; Android PCs, sure; Chromebooks, yes, dual Android and Windows devices... I've yet to be convinced.

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Topics: Hardware, Android, Intel, Windows

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    Does that just about sum it up for you SJVN?

    In 2014 I am done with virus prone. OSes.

    I do way too much banking and purchasing online to use either aforementioned OS.

    Windows (all past versions and future versions) is obsolete!

    Android is copycat, worthless, virus prone garbage!
    • It's the last gasp from the old-era PC companies

      Obviously, Intel, AMD and Microsoft are worried.

      They see the writing on the wall.

      With Android becoming the #1 OS worldwide, it's only a matter of time before Android upscales to larger devices with big screens and keyboards.

      Intel, AMD and Microsoft are desperate to keep Windows relevant. But trying to bolt it to Android won't work.
      • You might want to put the vibrator down...

        While Android is a very popular OS, people need to keep in mind it's only so in the roll of a content consumption device. Intel and Microsoft are still irreplaceable, and will be for the foreseeable future, in almost every area of our modern life.

        You personally might not directly need Intel or Microsoft, but most, if not all, of that gloriously mindless content you consume on your phone was likely created on Intel based PC's running Windows. Loose them, and your content consumption device will quickly run dry of content.

        For Android and ARM to truly pose a threat to Intel and Windows, they'd both need to become exactly what you find fault with - Android would have to become a desktop OS (meaning rather heavy to support endless hardware combinations and the myriad of services that are required for any real productivity capabilities). And ARM chips would have to become as power hungry as Intel's to truly match their performance on every level, not just those specific to content consumption. And they'd have to do all of that BEFORE they'd be able to entice major application developers to port their programs. So at the end of the day, all you'd end up with is a transition from A to a - just a different form of the same thing.

        It's become popular to proclaim how little we need companies like Microsoft and Intel now that we have these cool little phones. The problem is that it's simply not true, and all those who claim it is do is put their ignorance on display.
        • People who have dualboot Windows/Linux personal computers?

          I have installed nearly 20 of those for people who have had problems with Windows - XP, Vista and Windows 7 (=Vista SP2/3). I have left their Windows OS their. Interestingly i have noticed that they tend to use that Linux (mostly Mint LTS) as their default system after finding how much faster it has been compared to that slow Windows.

          Dualboot Windows/Linux might have been good idea with PC but hardly not in new cheap devices during mobile revolution. The whole ecosystem is moving to more Linux/FLOSS. There ain't much room for "Windows only" idea.
          • Just the opposite

            Before Windows 8(.1) I tried to load Linux such as ubuntu on friends and family member's old PCs to get them some performance boost and they all disliked Linux or any of the GUI I tried. Just too many quirky things about using Linux that they did not like.

            Personally I like Linux but then I like to tweak and am my own support.

            Now that Windows 8.1 is out and it runs so much better even on older hardware, I have ported a few machines over to it and they love it. Some were not into Metro so I just installed Classic Shell, removed all the Metro apps, and turned off Charms. Others were OK with Metro.

            ChromeOS might be an option for some of these as they tend to spend 99% of their time in the browser anyway, just have not had the opportunity to recommend a ChromeBook yet.
            Rann Xeroxx
        • This is very true...

          ...but you forget two things

          1) Many home users are content consumers, not creators. Sure, there is schoolwork and office documents, but there are Android and iOS office suites too, and I've heard some are rather good. The need for a full-blown computer is decreasing daily

          2) Microsoft has pretty much ditched the creator in favour of the consumer. If Windows 8 signified anything, it was that much. The creator element will die with desktop Windows (which Microsoft has stated, via MSDN, that they plan to deprecate it). That's the only possible logic for the Metro and the policies regarding such.

          So while PCs still do have a future, Microsoft is not a part of it, because it is voluntarily leaving it. Which means this section will be dominated by Linux and Apple in the near future
          • Enterprise still drives consumers

            People will still want to run the same programs at home that they do at work and in the enterprise Windows is king. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

            Adding apps to Windows is a good thing whether they are Windows 8 apps or Android apps. I use an Android app to determine the wire fill in conduits, I'd love to be able to run this app in Windows. I think BlueStacks could fill a need in the Enterprise.

            The biggest problem with BlueStacks is it undermines the Windows 8 App marketplace. Maybe Microsoft should take a page out of Amazon's playbook and create their own Android store with apps that will run well under BlueStacks.

            That said I still don't want to give up on Windows 8 apps, because I do like active tiles.
          • More

            "Maybe Microsoft should take a page out of Amazon's playbook and create their own Android store with apps that will run well under BlueStacks."

            Take that a step further, and just create a MS division to work strictly on Win8 apps (or pay ample incentives for creators to do so).
          • Bluestacks?

            That emulator needs LOTS of work before it is ready for prime time. Intel is doing it right with the Tizen super fast emulator that supports VT and HAXM. Although I've played games with Bluestacks, most stuff doesn't run or run right and screen upscaling and rotation is badly implemented.
          • Not as much as it used to

            The enterprise still drives consumers that need compatibility, but that's less than in the past. Android and Apple proved that consumers want entertainment as well as office capabilities and entertainment is winning over the office.

            While android is still somewhat buggy and techie, it already proved the average consumer is willing to put up with the issues to get the entertainment. Enterprise never drove that.
          • Man.... it's the other way around...

            The IBM PC was a success in business because people bought it for themselves and then wanted their company to switch.

            According to sales people from IBM, the PC was expected to sell mildly, since IBM already had more powerful solutions for the office and the DOS had no DBMS until Oracle appeared until 1984, two full years after the system had been released.
          • Oracle?

            Oracle didn't have much to do with early success of the PC, it was more like dBase II.

            Also, I never met a single person that bought a PC (at $5000 for a dual floppy, 64K green screen) to get their company to change. The PC and Lotus 123 was the status symbol of the exec in the corner office, then moved into Accounting, finance and other areas. The word processer was almost an after thought. WordStar was good, but not that good.

            Business drove the PC with the need for compatibility. Even many PCs failed like the Rainbow due to incompatible DOS systems. It really was the wild west!
        • I think you need to get back to your medication...

          The whole "content consumption" vs. "content creation" argument is getting pretty old and starts to sound as simply "resistance to change".

          I for one have currently 10 to 15 C-level managers who are exclusively using iOS tools to take decision making to another level. They were given PCs cause that's where the software runned, but they don't really need them. They can view their SAP reports, merge data and approve or return budgets to revision without the hassle and problems that a "real" PC gives the IT department. If that's not "content creation", I don't know what it is.

          You have to face the fact that content goes beyond Office, towards information. One customer of ours--an architectural design company--gave 100 iPads to their workers to use Autodesk 360 and Autodesk Smoke. Some key designers still use CATIA and Autodesk on the PCs for legacy purposes only, but most of the work is done in the individual stations.

          Intel and Windows are here to stay, but that doesn't mean they don't become a niche market. As the market sinks and OEMs bail out, prices will rise and only people who have a real business case to use Windows will get it. Windows 8 has made this worse, requiring more hardware additions to work favorable. Today, you need more than a $10 dollar mouse and $15 dollar keyboard, you need a $100 touch screen and $50 SSD.

          Surface failed to ignite the world and rather, showed that a Windows tablet meant for Touch requires a higher investment, both in hardware and training, than an iPad, albeit with questionably gains in functionality which the general public dismissed using a simple cost-vs-benefit analysis.

          In the future we will all see wonderful hybrid devices running Windows 8, which will further take that ecosystem into the niche frontier. Just like the dumb terminals of the past, only those strictly hooked to the PC would use it, and everybody else would either get it as emulation, remote desktop or whatever alternative arises in the future.

          Tough times ahead my friends and if you watch Bloomberg and read The Economist you'll know what people are speaking about it and where the decisions are being made.
      • Umm

        Intel has shown, they can produce a chip on par with the fastest mobile chips and pretty cheap at that... Why would Intel think they're in trouble? Bay trail vs Snapdragon 800? Bay trail kills it easily!

        As for AMD, they make the fastest Graphics Cards in the world! They Power the Mac Pro Graphics and other high end workstations! They make the CPUs or GPUs for all of the latest generation of gaming consoles! So, please help me out with why AMD is worried?

        As for Windows, I fail to see how it is irrelevant personally but, think what you want here.

        Android is decent but, not ready to take on a full fledged desktop at this time and Google might never want it there.

        Apple is going to have serious issues with the fact that everything is moving to much cheaper machines and yet, equally as powerful or even more so than the Apple equivalent.
        • Completely agree on Intel

          I've said that it will be far easier to Intel to trim down the power requirements of their processors than ARM to make up the performance difference. Intel is in no danger whatsoever, and as of late, they're making more and more inroads into the mobile market.

          And as much as I like Android (for the record so Vibrator doesn't have a hissy fit), while Microsoft royally screwed up the introduction and, to some extent, the design, of Windows 8, the overall product is sound. As I said, Android (or iOS, if that's your flavor) has an enormous amount of work ahead of them to match the requirements the actual working world needs to do their work. It's not without it's faults, but Windows 8 does have both bases covered today, and I think long before Android can become a desktop OS, Microsoft will have been able to sufficiently refine the touch side of Windows.

          And again, I'm not criticizing Android, I do, honestly, really like it. But I'm not blind in my love for it, or hatred of Microsoft. I'm simply objectively judging each's ability to handle a given task or set of tasks.
          • I don't think neither of these companies is thinking about the desktop...

            What Intel, AMD, et al, are targeting is the Windows tablet market (aka Surface) and the hybrid market which haven't had any love at this moment.

            Although Windows 8 has "theoretically" covered both ground (desktop and touch) in practice both needs lots of work to actually appeal to the customer.

            Windows XP and 7 nailed the desktop market with a sound interface, but that interface breaks BELOW the 10" barrier, as we learnt from the Origami fiasco.

            iOS and Android nailed the mobile and touch paradigm but breaks ABOVE the 10" barrier.

            Windows 8 Metro kinda solves the 10" threshold, but lacks apps and UI refinement. Microsoft needs to pick up the pace if they can realistically wish to have feature parity with Android. They forget how long Android had to fight an upwards battle with iOS to steal them their crown.

            As for processor parity for ARM to Intel, I don't think ARM holdings has that challenge. They don't need processors that match Core i5 or even Atom, as they could offset that with SMP. I've seen ARM chips with 128 cores running on i7 TDP. Remember that ARM is RISC which was designed with multi core in mind and the pipelines are simpler and more scalable. Just remember that Intel was never able to match Alpha's performance and they had to kill the project altogether to avoid shaming themselves with an internal competitor.

            On the other hand, thermal parity of x86 with ARM on the lower spectrum is much harder due to the CISC complexity. First Atoms were only in-order-executors, which killed Vista and barely could run Windows 7. Current low power Atoms are in-order and out-of-order Atoms have a higher TDP.
        • "Why would Intel think they're in trouble?" Actually, it's a way to kill

          ARM on any product which can work with any OS around, and the x86 platform can accommodate any OS.

          The fewer devices that come with ARM, the better for Intel. If the Intel processors can take over the work of ARM processors, even thru emulation, then that would mean a lot less ARMs around. It's a competitive strategy, and a round-about way of making ARM less relevant.
      • Microsoft is scared like an old tired Neanderthal...

        ... because it has finally realized that those "good old days of 1990's" will never come back.

        Forget the idea of cramming slow Windows to ARM& other new device. Windows is not flexible at all. We don't need old tired Microsoft ecosystem.
      • Why is Microsoft so scared?

        Why should Microsoft be so terrified and nervous about Android?

        Well, Android is now moving up to the desktop, Microsoft’s main area of illegally-obtained domination. “HP takes Android PCs commercial,” said one ZDNet journalist (journalists are rare at ZDNet, as most are trolls, moles, and even existing Microsoft staff), adding to what his colleague said about Lenovo. Another article asked: “Could an Android desktop replace your Windows PC?”

        Android is getting huge traction inside cars (Western companies), not to mention tablets, cameras, and smartwatches (mostly east Asian companies). All that Microsoft can do is try to tax those companies (as it does especially in east Asia) and try dropping the price of Windows to zero, essentially rendering its bogus antitrust complaints against Android hypocritical.
        • Do you read before pressing Submit?

          Your comments don't make any sense. As PC987 already mentioned, Android is a content consumption OS, nothing else. Of course it is good for cars, tablets, cameras or whatever. Stop hating Microsoft for the exact same practices that Apple and Google are using today.
          Nicolae Anghel