The boundaries are changing quickly, and today we prove it by running Android on the Samsung Series 7 Slate, a Windows 7 tablet. In the not too distant future we’ll see Windows 8 running on ARM CPUs (the CPUs used in mobile OS smartphones and tablets) and Android running on x86 (Intel computer CPUs). In fact, you can run Android on a Windows tablet right now.
We look at the easy way in this video: using BlueStacks, an application that you install and run like any other Windows app. It’s a self-contained Android VM with access to the tablet’s hardware like speakers, wireless and mic. That means you can play music, games and download info in online apps without having to tinker. BlueStacks is in Alpha, and it only supports a small selection of Android apps (you can send apps from your phone to the tablet using the free Cloud Connect phone app or download a selection that BlueStacks offers). The beta is due in March, and you can sign up on www.BlueStacks.com if you’re interested in trying it out. It should support more apps and we can’t wait to see it.
The other way to run Android on your Windows tablet is by using a virtual machine environment like VirtualBox or VMLite. VirtualBox is the more popular and it was made by Sun (now owned by Oracle) and it’s a free download for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. It’s extremely easy to setup VirtualBox (just run the installer and it does the rest). Then you add virtual machines (operating system images). You can add various Android OS images, and there’s even an Ice Cream Sandwich OS 4.01 image available for free download from VMLite that has some things set up ready to go like a virtual SD card from which you can install apps. This method requires some visits to the command line though, and it’s not as turnkey as BlueStacks.
Why run Android on a Windows tablet? The Samsung Series 7 Slate is one of the best Windows slate tablets on the market. At just under 2 lbs. with 5 hour battery life and an 11.6″ dual digitizer with excellent multi-touch, it feels like a mobile OS tablet. The Asus Eee Slate is another good platform, though it’s heavier and has shorter battery life. And there are tasks that are done more quickly and easily with Android apps, for example: reading news in Pulse, checking out movies and trailers in Flixster and playing games like GTA III. Sure you could play the Windows version of that game, but you’d use up precious SSD space and have to attach an optical drive to do so, and you’d lose the Android version’s touch controls.