Hasn’t everyone wished, at one time or another, for a straightforward way to use Android apps on Windows PCs? I personally haven’t, but Intel apparently thinks the idea is a popular one, because it intends to highlight at CES computers capable of running Android applications alongside Windows programs. Dubbed “Dual OS” or “PC Plus,” the idea is to use the Android app ecosystem to augment the languishing Windows 8 app store.
The concept is hardly new. Device manufactures have attempted clunky marriages of mobile and PC operating systems before: Acer launched a netbook that dual-booted Android and Windows in 2009, and computer makers ViewSonic and Azpen followed suit. More recently, though, companies like Asus and Samsung have taken a different tact, preferring setups that eschew separately partitioned OSes for virtualization and emulation. The obvious benefit is a less disjointed user experience; depending on the implementation, Android apps could be minimized and resized just like Windows programs.
Although Intel has invested significantly in a solution unifying Android and Windows – the company’s Bay Trail CPU architecture is capable of running either operating system – the respective maintainers of each OS, Microsoft and Google, are less enthusiastic. Google may be skeptical of the quality of Intel’s implementation, while Microsoft, which has been working towards a store that incorporates both mobile and computer apps, is afraid Android apps will dilute its efforts and deter developers.
Hesitation on the part of either company could be a death sentence for Intel’s plans: Microsoft could threaten PC OEMs with increased prices on volume Windows licenses, while Google could prevent access to Google services (the Play Store and Google Play Services, among others). It remains to be seen whether Intel’s idea will ever gain enough traction to be perceived as a threat, but the chip maker faces an uphill battle.