You will be able to run Windows apps natively in Android soon

Due to its long history, Windows has got thousands of desktop apps. Its software ecosystem is the biggest in the world. What if you wanted to run them natively on Android devices like large tablets? This will become a reality very soon.

Linux users and many other PC users might be familiar with Wine or must have at least heard of it. Wine is a special API layer for Linux which allows Win32 apps to run in the Linux environment.
For example, you can run Windows Solitare or Photoshop in Linux thanks to Wine.

There is a commercial version of Wine called CrossOver.

CrossOver is product of the Codeweavers company. CrossOver is especially focused on compatibility with most popular Windows apps in Linux. Now the same will be possible in Android since Android uses a modified Linux kernel. The special CrossOver version for Android is coming at the end of 2015. It will try to serve the same purpose - provide the ability to run popular Windows apps on the popular mobile platform.

What's the point you may ask? Well, do you know you can attach a mouse via USB On-The-Go (USB OTG) to Android devices? You can also use Bluetooth and USB keyboards with Android tablets. You just need a USB OTG cable. A USB OTG cable plugs into microUSB port on your Android device and allows you to connect full size USB peripherals. If Windows apps run on Android devices, with a mouse and keyboard, you may find that they add value to the Android experience.

However running Windows apps on Android this way is not as easy as a virtual machine. Many apps which use APIs which Wine does not support will not run. Wine and thus CrossOver are neither emulators nor virtual machines. Wine is an API layer - meaning it requires the same underlying CPU architecture. Windows desktop apps as we know require an x86 CPU, so you will need an x86 based Android device! Most Android devices, including most smartphones and tablets are based on ARM chips. So those devices with ARM chips cannot run Windows apps.

The good news is the amount of Intel Atom-powered Android devices is growing. So, it will be possible to buy x86 Android devices and run your familiar Win32 apps on your tablet and have all the benefits of Android. This is a small step for now but surely one reason to not buy a Windows tablet.

You can track CrossOver for Android "Technology Preview" development HERE.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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