Windows wars? The Android and Chrome OS Alliance

Windows wars? The Android and Chrome OS Alliance

Summary: Can Google's Rebel Alliance of Android and Chrome OS finally dent Microsoft's Windows Evil Empire? I expect we'll see this desktop operating system war start in late 2014.


Linux may rule in most places — supercomputers, mobile, and Wall Street to name a few — but the Windows empire has still held on to the desktop, despite Windows 8.x's failure to grab marketshare quickly. Now there's new hope: At Google I/O, Sundar Pichai, Google's head of Chrome and Android, said during the opening keynote that Google will be giving Chrome OS the power to run Android apps.

Android and Chrome OS are finally coming together.

I'd predicted that Google would bring the world's most popular mobile operating system, Android, together with its increasingly popular desktop operating system, Chrome OS last year. It took Google longer than I thought it would but Pichai finally pulled the trigger.

Pichai said that that Android apps will be brought to Chrome OS. During his demo he showed Evernote, Vine and Flipboard all running on a Chromebook.

The reason for bringing them together is easy as dusting crops on Tatooine. While Chromebooks have been gaining in popularity, Android, with its one billion active users, is the most popular smartphone and tablet operating system on the planet. Merge Android's apps with Chrome OS's anyone-can-use-it interface and you have a worthy rival to Windows on the desktop.

As Pichai observed, it's not like Chromebooks don't have fans in their own right. He claimed that eight companies make 15 different Chromebook models, and they account for the 10 best-rated laptops on Amazon

Pichai also showed off the forthcoming Android L mobile operating system by showing Android apps being mirrored on a Chromebook display. While Pichai is making no promises as when we'll see a fully merged Android/Chrome OS, we're clearly on our way to combined operating system hyperspace.

Since both operating systems are based on Linux, they share a common foundation. In addition, while the vast majority of current Chromebooks don't have a touch interface, Google has actually supported touch on Chrome OS since the release of the Chromebook Pixel in early 2013. In addition, Google has been expanding Chrome OS's touch support in Project Athena.

Put it all together and I, for one, won't be surprised to see touchscreen-equipped Chromebooks that can run Android apps on top of Chrome OS on sale by the 2014 holiday season. I think this means we'll see a real desktop star wars beginning late this year. The alliance of Android and Chrome OS against an aging and unpopular Windows 8.x may finally lead to Microsoft facing real desktop competition for the first time in a generation.

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Topics: Mobility, Enterprise Software, Google, Linux, Microsoft, PCs, Windows, Windows 8

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  • You're forgetting...

    ...that this isn't close to being complete. And it's only going to be whitelisted applications by Google. Just look to Android laptops, they didn't sell. Touchscreens on ChromeOS have been few and far between and poorly executed. Not to mention, they talk about well selling laptops for ChromeOS on Amazon...but notice marketshare numbers show ChromeOS as still being < 1%. Put it all together coupled with Microsoft dropping Windows licensing pricing...and I think you're overblowing things.
    • Dude its wishful thinking on there part.

      Dude its wishful thinking on there part. There are NO desktop wars there never was the desktop will die off before Linux gets any kinda numbers. People don't give a fiddle about phones or tablets they are toys to play with in someone spare time except for the phone calling ability lol off course
  • Given that both Android and Chrome OS are open source operating systems

    If Android apps can be made to run on Chrome OS (built from Gentoo), then they 'should' be able to run on conventional GNU/Linux distros (e.g., Ubuntu) with desktop environments (e.g., Unity) that support touch. No?

    P.S. With regard to evil empires, there is a fairly well-known *Nix command:

    $ which evilempire

    Not surprisingly, there are a number of tech companies from which to choose from and some individuals would choose Google and/or Apple in lieu of Microsoft.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • You are missing one empire

      Ming The Merciless's Oracle
      Alan Smithie
  • Big mistake

    Killing Android's desktop/laptop promise in order to try to keep Chrome OS from disappearing or becoming further marginalized was a huge mistake. I doubt running a few Android applications here and there on Chromebooks is a serious substitute.

    Huge opportunity loss and we'll all be poorer for it since it removes pressure from Microsoft to backpedal on the metrofication of Windows. A solid desktop Android would have offered an alternative to the locked down, LOB-hostile, curated "store" only Windows future.
    • dilettante: "Killing Android's desktop/laptop promise ..."

      How on earth is enabling Android apps on Chrome OS killing Android on the desktop? OEMs can pick whatever operating system they choose for their laptops and desktops (except for iOS and OS X). Has Google issued an edict that Android cannot be placed on laptop and desktop form factors (good luck with that as Android is open source)?

      In the end, consumers and businesses through their purchases will decide whether or not Android or Chrome OS has a future on the laptop and desktop form factor.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Chrome and Android apps on Windows

    I run both Chrome and Android apps on my Windows laptop already. Chromebooks are far too limiting. Windows laptops sell for about the same price with better hardware. I see little opportunity for much change yet. Even the Windows tablets are close to Android prices now.
    Don't get me wrong, I like my Android phone and Ipad Air however my Windows machines do the most and the OS is very intuitive. They all have their place but the Chromebook even with Android apps will be a pretty small market share I suspect.
    • no and no

      No, Chromebooks are NOT far too limiting. I am using one each day and it runs fast, without fail! In a matter of seconds I am online in the morning and good to go. It just works. And NO, there are no Windows laptops with fast SSD for under $300, or desktops for under $179. Nothing.
      • Your mileage by vary.

        Besides that, you probably shouldn't be bragging about an SSD that's only got 32 GB of storage...
        • only 32gb ...


          Never heard of this cloud thing, then?

          It's not all chemtrails, you know. Really!
      • Chromebooks are far too limiting.

        You know you made no mention of functions beyond starting it up and getting online. It just work isnt a function; while windows computer are more expensive they are also more versatile than Chromebooks
  • ChromeOS is still dead.

    Since 2010 when first hardware shipped it continues to garner any real usage. Let it die and concentrate on Android.
    • Amazon

      Amazon shows #1 desktop as a Chromebox and #1 laptop as a Chromebook. Someone is buying. Chrome OS devices, fast, simple, effective - they just work. I do have an Android phone, and soon there will be Android apps on my Chromebook as well.
      • Sure

        And the Kindle is the #1 tablet, as a Kindlebook
      • And?

        Imagine if 100,000 people bought laptops from Amazon every quarter. Imagine if half of those were Chromebooks. It would be the top selling one as well as a commercial flop.

        I assume more than 100k are bought, but the point remains that without numbers it is pointless.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • The top 2 selling phones on amazon are windows phones.

        see how amazon best selling isn't relative to overall popularity?
        • windows phones best sellers?

          Only since they're heavily subsidised ... While Chrome books have dominated for months.

          Not quite the same. And windows phones aren't getting schools contracts are they?
        • This is completely incorrect.


          FACT: The top Windows contract phone is in 37th place behind a whole load of Android phones.

          FACT: The top Windows unlocked phone is completely off the list behind a whole load of Android phones.

          Only on the locked no-contract (ie. prepaid) phones does a Windows phone come in top. This is a niche market where unsold Windows phones are presumably being dumped.
      • So? There are hundred of models of Windows notebooks of ...

        ... from dozens of vendors. We are talking about a handful of Chrome Books. In that large a field, being the #1 model doesn't mean much.
        M Wagner
  • breaking news...

    Chrome OS to get ability that Windows 8 has had for a year or two (ability to run Android Apps)... Bah ha ha ha ha... Microsoft has nothing to fear - especially given Win8/8.1 already has over 4x the market share of Linux on desktops and that will only grow to a greater factor over this year and next.

    And if MS really wants to get things moving then all they need do is reintroduce the $15-$40 upgrade price for Win8.1 for say a 2 month period. Now its been around for a bit they would see a spike in uptake now that would be bigger compared to at release.

    The other funny part of the article was referring to Win8 as aging ha ha ha... So aging that both Google and Apple 'borrowed' the flat design look.