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Android Operating Systems Portables

Android On the Desktop 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the wait-what dept.
puddingebola writes "John Morris at CNET offers a brief review of PC Android devices, many of them hybrids running Windows 8 and Android. From the article, 'Microsoft has spent a lot of time and effort trying to get Windows onto smartphones and tablets — so far without a whole lot to show for it. Now several PC companies are trying the opposite approach, taking the Android operating system and porting it to PCs.' The article reviews the recent releases from HP, Acer, Asus, and Samsung. Does Android creeping onto desktop or 'traditional' PC devices have any kind of possible long term consequences? Could this be a way for Android and Google to develop a larger presence in corporate IT, or could Android ever really supplant the Windows foothold?"
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Android On the Desktop

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  • by mlts (1038732) *

    I have been seeing and reading about Android computers the size of a USB flash drive which can clip on a LCD monitor, and gets power from a USB cable.

    I think in China and a lot of other countries, Android is a desktop OS, but other than a few models winding up on this side of the pond, I've not seen that many of these Android devices.

    • by stonedcat (80201) <hikaricore [at] gmail.com> on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:00PM (#44117535) Homepage

      My MK808 works perfectly as a media center for my TV. I have various nfs/samba shares mounted on it and run XBMC with a mirror of my desktop library database. Planning to upgrade to an MK908 quad core when the price comes down a bit and the bugs in the firmware are ironed out. As for a desktop system I could see it working for most folks, however the way that android manages apps would need to be reworked a bit to accommodate non-touch interfaces.. assuming these don't become desktop standard.

      • by Paul Steffen (2947609) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @06:08PM (#44118049)
        Android is a terrific desktop OS. I have all my tools within a few clicks, including Splashtop streaming to either my desktop or PC (even streaming at 2560x1400 resolution works beautifully to my nexus 10). I also have both the mk808 and (recently) the quad-core mk908 which does many things FAR faster than Windows or MacOS-X. Browsing, checking e-mail, tweaking photos (PS Mobile), listening to music, editing code, etc. IMHO, Android is the sleek, fast desktop Linux OS we've all wished would happen. All that needs to happen is a way to host chroot-like gnome/kde environments and HW-accelerated integrated X11 server. btw, anyone considering either the mk808 or mk908 - go with the mk908 - it's not just faster but includes bluetooth, a big convenience with low-power USB-powered device with limited USB ports - also, there's lots of cool bluetooth hardware supported on android like ELM327 interfaces that interact with your car.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Wing_Zero (692394)

          All that needs to happen is a way to host chroot-like gnome/kde environments and HW-accelerated integrated X11 server.

          Bah, not even that. I just tried out the android-x86 4.2.2 ISO just a few days ago, and I'd be happy if it just saw the NTFS partition on the HD. (plus Printing support, there's a app for my printer, but it sucks bad)

          VLC works fine, mozilla was snappy, and the play store knew what apps would work!

          I think that android would be awesome as a primary OS option, I don't even miss minimizing stuff, they have a task switcher that works fast enough.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      I have been seeing and reading about Android computers the size of a USB flash drive which can clip on a LCD monitor, and gets power from a USB cable.

      I think in China and a lot of other countries, Android is a desktop OS, but other than a few models winding up on this side of the pond, I've not seen that many of these Android devices.

      It'll all depend upon how you define desktop I suppose. Mine is a big noisy thing with a lot of power to do things. Android seems geared to small, quiet things with small power needs.

      • by Hadlock (143607) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:07PM (#44117605) Homepage Journal

        Most people just need a thin client to access Facebook/Gmail/Amazon.com/Pintrest, Youtube and the 2-3 specialty sites, pay bills and let junior type up his book report. The needs of people who post here are vastly different from 95% of the population.
         
        An Android device the size of a thumb drive that plugs in to the back of their living room TV and works with their bluetooth keyboard/mouse is more powerful than many people will ever need.

        • by exomondo (1725132) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:32PM (#44117813)

          Most people just need a thin client to access Facebook/Gmail/Amazon.com/Pintrest, Youtube and the 2-3 specialty sites, pay bills and let junior type up his book report.

          That sounds more like what most people have in common rather than the only things most people need.

          • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @06:50PM (#44118319)
            Yes, thats what many "end of the desktop" proponents dont seem to understand. Even if these mobile operating systems satisfied 95% of the things people often do with a computer, most people would still have their own 5% niche need that the mobile OS is completely inappropriate for and the device hardware itself completely under-powered for.

            You have to wonder how tech-literate these "end-of-the-desktop" proponents really are, since clearly they are just consumers of data at most. of course they will challenge you to give them some reason for desktops and you will of course give them a specific answer, and they will of course say that only 5% of people do that.. an argument that ignores the fact that my 5% is different from your 5% is different from someone elses 5%.... but most people have a 5%.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @07:51PM (#44118643)

              I am the 5%

              I've tried living without a PC for a year. I own an android tablet and an iphone.

              Mostly, I'm just constantly annoyed and pissed off all the time. I can do things on the go, which is great. But I can't do much of anything beyond email, facebook, watch a movie or play a game or a hundred other non-productive things. Typing is frustrating, the interface is a kiosk so I really can't move windows and transfer any data between them. If someone hasn't written software for the task you need you're just out of luck.

              The only truly useful and productive thing I can do is browse the web to research something.

              The same people that call for the end of the desktop have a vastly different perspective from you. You are not a worker or a designer. From a tech journalist's perspective you are nothing more than a consumer. You are consuming their ideas and getting them ad impressions. This device they are talking about is perfect for doing that! Their use of an object is more hopeful than yours, because it's their job to sell you the product. Most people simply don't have time to square peg and round hole the tablet into their needs, of which there are many.

            • by Hadlock (143607)

              Of there's a commercial need, generally there's an app for viewing it as an end user.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        If I had a beefy server with a bunch of GPUs in it, so I can stream video graphics (similar to OnLive except running on the LAN), then for everything else, use the server with something like Citrix XenApp. That way, the desktop computer does relatively little work while the server is the machine that gets secured. Since most infections come from compromised websites, having the Web browsing done under Android will help reduce [1] the incidences of infection.

        [1]: Not eliminate completely -- I've seen rogu

    • I've set one up for my parents, they like it well enough:
      - it is much more reliable than their Windows PC (which lost the 'net while I was away, so was useless for a couple of weeks)
      - it is easier to use, once you learn the 5 differences (single click to launch, right click = back, Home = ... home, ...)
      - it does what they need: mail, internet, Skype, and a few games. Oh, and picture frame :-p With widgets, they have mail + meteo + skype contacts and conversations right on the home screen.
      - plays games and f

  • by stox (131684) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @04:54PM (#44117471) Homepage

    Android will be a good alternative for customer service call centers where you only want to use a browser and possibly one or two additional applications.

    I can imagine a lot of thin client type applications that will have similar requirements.

    It will save a fortune on licensing and hardware requirements.

    • Perhaps, once somebody bodges together an actually-working set of management tools for Android.

      Are Wintels brutally overpowered and needlessly complex for many purposes they are put to? Sure. Can I use off-the-shelf tools to take one out of the box, PXE boot it, dump a substantially system-agnostic image onto it, and get mostly-done-for-me centralized account management, configuration of virtually anything, etc, etc.? Also yes.

      Android(and iOS, though Apple has been a bit more aggressive about building tools

    • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @07:43PM (#44118605) Journal

      It wouldn't surprise me if it's already used that way. Many call centers already use thin clients which provide exactly a web browser and some sort of remote desktop client (VMware View or Citrix). The major remote desktop clients are already usable on Android - I've used my phone that way in a pinch.

      I'd be amazed if there weren't already thin clients that were Android inside. My favorite thin client form factor is a wall socket - it goes in the wall, and has sockets for USB and HMDI - just plug in a keyboard/mouse and monitor and go.

  • I welcome this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @04:55PM (#44117485) Journal

    I'd like to see Android on the PC become commercially available. We have a touchscreen laptop running Win8. Currently I'm planning to find a friend of my daughter's that needs a laptop and gift it. (Downgrading to Win7 is pointless because it has a touchscreen and Win7 touchscreen support is pretty much useless.) But I might reconsider if there were a native Android that would run on it. Assuming reasonable hardware support, and that there was a reasonable selection of Android apps that run on Intel architecture.

    • Supposedly, my Asus eee PC 4G is supported hardware for Android-x86 [android-x86.org], but I haven't tried it yet. It works quite well as a regular PC still.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        That's good news. This touchscreen laptop is an Asus also. Might be worth the experiment.

    • by gagol (583737)
      Why do you HAVE to smudge the screen with your finger if it is touchscreen? It still is perfectly good for displaying pictures.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Why do you HAVE to smudge the screen with your finger if it is touchscreen? It still is perfectly good for displaying pictures.

        It has a stylus, and we bought it initially to draw on. But flipped over in "tablet" mode, you necessarily have to deal with the OS via the touchscreen, or spend a lot of time flipping backwards and forwards between "tablet" and "laptop" mode to do stuff.

        We've since gone back to a digitizer connected to a Windows XP desktop.

        In summary, we bought the touchscreen laptop for a specific purpose, and, as it's failed miserably for that purpose, and the desktop performs adequately for that purpose, and we have ot

  • And off we go! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @04:56PM (#44117489) Journal

    This is the final barrier to switching to it as a desktop, or laptop on the sofa. Major games. Which requires mainline hardware adoption.

    When fps and mmos with big iron 3D run on this (sorry Pocket Legends, you're cool but it's the pockets bit that doesn't cut it long term!) then it's time to buy the moving van from Windows, as I did from Mac long ago. The trifecta will be on Android -- surfing, office apps, and big games. Then only price remains...and the Big Mo of cachet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Desler (1608317)

      Games have next to nothing to do with selling desktops. Even every single Steam combined user barely represents 3-4% of all PC users worldwide.

      • 3-4% of PC users is a pretty large number. Enough for its own not-so-small niche.

  • Android has basically become, like most tablets are, the modern equivalent of a thin client for the internet. And frankly, that's all a lot of users care about. It may not be the ideal of most people on /. for daily use, but I know a lot of teenage kids would be quite satisfied with that.

    • Android has basically become, like most tablets are, the modern equivalent of a thin client for the internet. And frankly, that's all a lot of users care about. It may not be the ideal of most people on /. for daily use, but I know a lot of teenage kids would be quite satisfied with that.

      Ironically with Metro, and Secure boot, Microsoft Lets get in on the software Store, Windows look like a poor mobile device...with all the markup that comes with Intel and Microsoft walking home with a 70% Gross Margin. This is about helping to sell those failing to compete because of Price, by offering Android as an incentive...and its a good one, as Unlike Windows people want and Desire Android.

  • Dual boot mac (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:03PM (#44117555)
    When I first started to switch to mac I thought the dual boot would be a great introduction. Within a week I cleared out my windows partition and moved it to a VM. Months later I found I was only going to windows for to see that all was still working in IE and to run the occasional windows only application.

    So having an Android/Windows combo may very well have the same results for many. They will think that they can have the best of both worlds and find that Android serves many of their needs quite nicely and instead of "rejecting" windows discover they just aren't using it. So instead of it being a religious conversion it will be more of a migration.

    This has got to be a nightmare scenario for MS in that they know that for most people almost any OS will do. Does it have a browser, check (that will be the limit of most people's lists) does it have an easy way to watch Youtube, does it have any good games, does it boot really fast, does it have a good battery life.

    You will notice I didn't put office applications in that list as most people only use those at work.

    Plus the needs of us techie types are way way off most people's lists.
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      A lot of people remote desktop in from home to their work machine. It's not commonplace now, but about 1 in 10 people I know (friends, parents etc) have had that capability in at least one previous job, generally larger corporations.

      Why install office when you can just access it from your work machine at home? My job gave me a full copy of Office, but I've never installed it because it's faster to just RDP in to work rather than clutter up my PC with 12GB of office crap just to be able to use Word a

      • Why install office when you can just access it from your work machine at home? My job gave me a full copy of Office, but I've never installed it because it's faster to just RDP in to work rather than clutter up my PC with 12GB of office crap just to be able to use Word and Excel three times a year.

        1. because it's a bad idea to mix your work and personal documents?
        2. because you have to spend time transferring the docs from work to your personal account
        3. because if you lose your job, you won't be able to open any of your documents
        4. because using a remote display introduces lag

        if you use it 3x, you should just pick an online free solution (such as google docs).

        • I use google docs for all my personal documents, and save local copies for anything important. RDPing in to my work machine is easier than maintaining two sets of work documents on two machines. If you work in a regulated industry or for the government any files stored on the machine are cannidates for auditing by the government, I don't reccomend mixing work and home documents.

    • When I first started to switch to mac

      I reinstalled it with a friendly open Linux Distribution, I still cry in shower holding my knees tight and rocking trying to forget OS X. Fortunately they have managed to make their quality computing if overpriced computer products into glorified electronics devices, causing a drop in sales of 22% and 2%(more sane) higher than the rest of the PC market, fortunately there is devices like Pixel from Google to replace Apples offerings.

  • Bottom up victory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by countach (534280) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:04PM (#44117585)

    The history of computing is that winners emerge from the bottom up. DOS was a toy that came to destroy the mighty mainframe. Sun despised consumer level hardware, and now it has vanished, consumed by cheaper Linux and Windows boxes. Android isn't exactly ready as a desktop OS, but its mad ascent in cheap mobile devices means it should be feared.

    • Already happening (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:25PM (#44117751) Journal

      I still use my laptop for "srs bizness" but recently, when I did some server upgrades where I would normally log in via the laptop intermittently to perform admin functions, I found myself using my folding bluetooth keyboard and my Android phone instead.

      It was surprisingly productive and, being much smaller, was actually far more convenient than pulling out what felt like "big iron" to do a simple shell task.

      My Android 4.1 phone (Moto Razr Maxx HD and I love it!) is already my go-to device for casual browsing.

  • by ikhider (2837593) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:11PM (#44117643)
    For those who say 'I can't run GNU/Linux, I don't know anything about computers', I reply, 'If you use Android, or any embedded devices, you already have. It's not that difficult.' Android as an OS will hopefully lead the migration to GNU/Linux OS where the user has control. Right now, if you have an Android based device, you cannot even upgrade your version without the blessing of the service provider. Giving control back to the user is key. Rooting your Android device ought to be a right, not some massive struggle where you potentially void your device warranty. PC manufacturers like HP used to void warranties when clients installed GNU/LInux, not anymore. Because HP (and the like) are freaking HARDWARE manufacturers, not software, unless we're talking bios. Power to the user.
    • by exomondo (1725132)

      Giving control back to the user is key.

      I don't think it is, to people here absolutely, but the vast majority of people don't need or want that level of control. The choice has always been there though and continues to be there but adoption of those solutions has never taken off in the mainstream environment because users simply do not care.

      • I'd like to see some real, hard facts to back up these assertions. The constant rhetoric from the "I'm the real geek" crowd on /. is that "most people" (grandma, sister, uncle Jim...) only care about looking at Facebook and YouTube and other than the occasional Word document, they can barely operate a computer. I think this meme is condescending and inaccurate. Sure, there are such folks, but I highly doubt they constitute the majority of PC users.

        • by tepples (727027)

          The constant rhetoric from the "I'm the real geek" crowd on /. is that "most people" (grandma, sister, uncle Jim...) only care about looking at Facebook and YouTube and other than the occasional Word document, they can barely operate a computer. I think this meme is condescending and inaccurate.

          I'd be willing to consider evidence otherwise. But the sale of PCs that include Intel integrated graphics and no discrete graphics card, combined with the success of video game consoles, shows that people are in fact satisfied with PCs that can't do much more than homework and Facebook. In fact, one householder in my survey sample told me that in a cash crunch, he would cut off Internet to his household before cutting off pay TV.

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          I'd like to see some real, hard facts to back up these assertions.

          The real hard facts are that while devices that provide this control are easily available and have been for many many years they are still not the device of choice for most people.

          The constant rhetoric from the "I'm the real geek" crowd on /. is that "most people" (grandma, sister, uncle Jim...) only care about looking at Facebook and YouTube and other than the occasional Word document, they can barely operate a computer. I think this meme is condescending and inaccurate.

          I agree, but that's not contrary to my original statement.

    • In what way is Android on a laptop any preferable to ChromeOS?
      • In what way is Android on a laptop any preferable to ChromeOS?

        For running applications that are ported to Android but not ported to Chrome Web Store. Or is there an automated way to make such ports by now?

    • PC manufacturers like HP used to void warranties when clients installed GNU/LInux, not anymore.

      Just a year or so ago I bought my wife an HP laptop specifically for a sysadmin class where she'd be installing Linux on it. Got it home, had a question for HP about it, and discovered in the process (from the phone support) that installing Linux would void their warranty. Checked the paperwork: Yep! So we returned it to Staples for a full refund and went with something else.

      When did HP change this policy?

    • by _merlin (160982) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @07:04PM (#44118381) Homepage Journal

      I call bullshit on your whole line of thinking. No-one who professes lack of computer knowledge would ever say they can't run "GNU/Linux" - the only people who actually say "GNU/Linux" are RMS-worshippers.

      Anyway if you want to go down the path of calling distributions with GNU userland tools "GNU/Linux" Android doesn't qualify, because it doesn't give the user GNU userland anyway. It uses the Linux kernel, but that's irrelevant to a non-technical user. They could swap the kernel out for anything without users even noticing as long as the Android userland is moved across.

  • by technomom (444378) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:18PM (#44117713)

    For the right price ( $500), I'd be more than happy with a lightweight Android "netbook" sans Windows. I can keep my Windows and Linux systems at the office in our VMWare cloud for software development and use an Android based VNC/RDP or Chrome Remote Desktop to access them. For everything else I typically do, "there's an app for that". To me, having a keyboard on Android would be big plus.

    • by tepples (727027)
      What you want is an Asus Transformer, but that might be out of your price range. There are two other ways to go about this. You could find a netbook that Android-x86 supports, or you could add a Bluetooth keyboard to any Android tablet.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Wednesday June 26, 2013 @05:26PM (#44117763) Homepage Journal

    ... I would like to have a version of Eclipse or Netbeans that I can run ON AN ANDROID. I have an Asus Transformer tablet and keyboard. I'd like the option of writing code for the Android on an Android.

  • To have Android as a desktop OS only proves Microsoft right about many of Windows 8's design choices. I'm not saying it does not have its niche, but Android is not going to replace Windows, OS X or your favorite Linux distro.

    Android, as is, has the reputation of being a resource hog. I do not have enough experience to wholeheartedly agree, but I understand the reputation (Emphasis on interpreted code over natively compiled executables, some experiences with high-end phone hardware lagging - even my very sho

    • >Android, as is, has the reputation of being a resource hog

      No it kind of doesn't it runs on on very basic hardware..the first phone it sold on was the HTC dream. it 528 MHz Qualcomm MSM7201A ARM11 processor, 256 MB ROM, 192 MB RAM and 320 x 480 px, 3.2 in (81 mm). Lets face it it will run well on these Windows 8 hybrid devices, Which are vastly overpowered for Android.

      I was going to refute every (lie) point but this is my favourite "To have Android as a desktop OS only proves Microsoft right about many of Windows 8's design choices", and can't help but find it hila

      • >Android, as is, has the reputation of being a resource hog

        No it kind of doesn't it runs on on very basic hardware..the first phone it sold on was the HTC dream.

        The HTC Dream ran Android 1. Is Android 4 as lean as Android 1?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      To have Android as a desktop OS only proves Microsoft right about many of Windows 8's design choices.

      No, no it does not. The things which Android has in common with Windows 8 are things which make it a poor desktop OS.

      Sure, Android can get a desktop-oriented interface - but why should it?

      Because I want to run Android apps on my desktop, and I want Android's lack of PITA factor there too.

    • To have Android as a desktop OS only proves Microsoft right about many of Windows 8's design choices.

      ... Windows 8 gets a lot of flak for Metro, despite having the desktop available, even on crippled RT (which still allows IE and Office, and possibly select third-party software in the future, besides all native OS functions).

      Perhaps the interest in Android as a big-screen OS does offer confirmation that Windows 8's UI isn't totally broken. That in turn is confirmation for my thesis that what people hate about the 8 UI is the way it infantilises the user. Fisher-Price colour scheme and a vocabulary including words like "charms" indicate that Microsoft's target user is about 7 years old. The reaction against the 8 UI is a reaction against being patronised and infantilised.

      Sure, Android can get a desktop-oriented interface, but why should it?

      Surely the answer to that is obvious? From the device ma

  • At 1 AM, "please, nooooooo" is all you're going to get out of me. But I do make my living developing for my Android ... :)

  • 'nuf said.
  • Remember Logitech Revue? This device had an Intel x86 Atom processor, USB 2.0, Honeycomb and Google Market. It was a great product, but was a commercial flop, not because it was flakey as hell... but because nearly all the apps you wanted to run only ran on ARM processors.

    The second issue is that Android, and iOS, are really only suitable for unitasking, which is really only workable for content consumption.

    The third issue is that if I have a device capable of running something more demanding then Android,

  • I think it would be neat if you could run Android applications on a vanilla Linux distribution. Remember Microsoft's 16-bit WOW (Windows on Windows)? Why can't we do something just like that to run Android applications on a stock Linux system?

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