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Poll: Would you welcome an Android-powered PC?

Google has released Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Cream Sandwich" for x86, so Android could be coming to PCs in 2012. Would you want one?

On Wednesday, the Google Android team released the x86 version of Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" to the open source community. The software is incomplete -- for example, it's missing support for Ethernet and cameras -- but it will open the door for hardware makers to pre-install Android instead of Microsoft Windows on laptops and desktops in 2012.

No hardware makers have yet announced Intel or AMD powered PCs running Android 4.0, but I wouldn't be surprised to see several companies quickly jump on the bandwagon in early 2012. The top candidates are Dell, Acer, and ASUS. Dell and Acer could be keen because they try to make machines as low-cost as possible and there's no licensing fee for Android, unlike Windows, so that would shave about $50 off the cost of a PC. ASUS could be a candidate because the company favors innovative, forward-looking PCs and it already has a strong Android product line, including the Eee Pad Transformer (below), the most laptop-like Android device already in the market.

Sanity check

An Android-powered PC would have a few things going for it. We've already talked about the cost factor. Android also has over half a million apps on the platform, although most of those are optimized for a smartphone screen. But, with the rise of Android tablets in 2011, there is an increasing number of excellent apps that are optimized for tablets with 1280x800 resolution, which will also work great for a laptop.

Google itself is still lukewarm about the idea, so don't look for much support from Mountain View. The company has consistently said that Chromebooks are its play in the PC space, but the fact that Chromebooks haven't sold well are probably part of what has motivated the company to release Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" on x86. Google is dipping its toe in the water. We'll see if OEMs run with the idea and prove that there's market interest in Android PCs. If they do, look for Google to get a lot more serious about it.

Take the poll

We'd like to know what you think. Would you be interested in an Android-powered computer? Answer the poll and then jump into the discussion below to share your thoughts.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

33 comments
Wilkinson64
Wilkinson64

I think it's an intriguing idea. A familiar flavor of Linux, a plethora of apps that could be ported to it, and none of the bloat of todays desktop O.S.'s. Not saying I'd run out and buy one, but I'd definitely take a look. I like this concept better than the Chromebook.

seanferd
seanferd

I even ran that Android image from wherever it was as a VM, to see what the phone UI was like. But as a desktop OS, it is probably something I'd have to decrapify before use, so I don't see why I'd bother. Unless it becomes a fixture and a lot of people want some sort of support for it.

lak611
lak611

What's the point? We already have many Linux distros.

rcm0502
rcm0502

I'm sure the base Android image doesn't have any other crap in it...yet. But what happens with OEM's adding toys and gewgaws to it may mean you'd then have to decrapify it much like the junk OEM'S already shove into their Windows machines.

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

Having hundreds of distros is good for innovation. It's a blunt instrument though; a spear with no tip on it. Any time you are faced with the decision to select 1 of many, the opportunity to focus your efforts in a specific area represents a time, money, and energy saver. Right now, for better or worse, it's the best - free - thing going. I can only imagine how my life would change if the platform was prone to viruses. Its supportability is inherently greater. I always thought the *pad movement was just silly but, the world has voted and I was apparently wrong - again. They are here and they must be supported. It's up to us to choose something WE like, because they ain't gonna support themselves. If we leave it up to the users they will, in the only way I know them, do something silly. Advocate or don't but, if you don't, you will be stuck with what you get later.

ariesghost
ariesghost

Linux is conquering the world with its usefulness...

simonh
simonh

99.999% of the general public that use Android everyday have no idea and don't care that the underneath the pointy, smooth icon-fest lie the remnants of the a once godfather O.S. - Unix. Linux is a total failure as far as they are concerned - stick that on a box/slate/phone and it won't sell. Call it Android and they'll come flocking. That's the point and be happy that 'nix finally found its way into many nooks of our lives but it could it only do it wearing a disguise (Android/iOS/OSX). For what it's worth I think this may be dodgy ground for Android - if it does happen then it's either as a pre-boot OS or secondary OS for the OS most people will use on a PC box. Windows 8/9/10 will offer so much flexibility and capability that there'll be hardly any need to switch back or across to Android. Android is likely sell PCs on behalf of Microsoft. Phone/Tablet->Android->PC->Windows etc.

M Wagner
M Wagner

The most obvious difference is that neither Android nor any other tablet OS offers preemptive multitasking. They offer simply task-switching. Even Windows 95 offered cooperative multitasking. The tablet OS world is far simpler than the Linux or Windows worlds. How Win 8 for tablets fits into this paradigm remains to be seen!

seanferd
seanferd

it will have plenty of crap in it. As of now, I'm not sure how much is in x86 builds. Since the talk is about machines shipping with Android installed, there is sure to be plenty of crap built in.

Non-techie Talk
Non-techie Talk

Banking, finance, insurance...the list goes on. Linux has penetration and respect in the corporate server world. Period.

HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

It being FREE is being used by many companies, who take the source code and use it. Who needs to do work when they can leech off of somebody else's work? That's what's making it used everywhere. So, how do you compete with free? Ask Apple. OS X and iOS are based off of FreeBSD.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

Linux is fine, but still has a neglible share on the desktop. Until it is plug n play like Windows and runs Windows legacy apps, the penetration will remain a footnote. I would not say "conquering the world" with minor desktop usage.

davids
davids

you mean with its uselessness...

seanferd
seanferd

I do believe that was the point of the comment.

M Wagner
M Wagner

... and it implemented Win32s. Only the Windows NT family has ever offered preemptive Multitasking. Windows NT 3.5x was the first of the family, then WIndows NT 4, then WIndows 2000/XP (Windows NT5.x) and most recently, Windows Vista/7 (Windows NT 6.x).

chris.glasser
chris.glasser

Windows 95 had preemptive multitasking for 32-bit apps. That was one of the things that made it a major improvement over Windows 3.1.

vezycash
vezycash

Somebody has to pay money for the FREE android, maybe not you but you you would pay one way or the others. In lost jobs, lost privacy...

vezycash
vezycash

those companies have the capab to hire geeks, IT experts who would hammer their heads rewriting and compiling codes, drivers... to save a few bucks

BrightLibra@Gmail.com
BrightLibra@Gmail.com

...my answer is that I have used Microsoft Windows ever since I got my 11 floppies of Win286 and grown with it. DOS 3.3 was really good, as I recall and we are to never trust an even numbered version of DOS as 4.0 taught us quickly. You always love the "first" because you are connected in more than skills to that experience. But I have to admit I stood on a freeway off-ramp and gave away CD's of Ubuntu when it was in Version 5 (or so...) to anyone who would roll down their window.

vegesm
vegesm

We're talking about linux on PCs not servers. I find Windows more comfortable than Linux for my desktop PC.

vezycash
vezycash

Is there no clause about keeping the derivative open sourced?

LeonBA
LeonBA

You complain that companies "leech" off the work of the open-source community, but then speak glowingly of Apple for doing the same thing? Am I missing something here? There's nothing wrong with Apple or any other company using open-source code for their own gain. The open-source licenses specifically allow that.

khawar.nehal
khawar.nehal

I can help you run windows XP and windows 7 native with free licensed software on a linux desktop. Contact for details if you wish to. Regards, Khawar Nehal http://atrc.net.pk

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

it's already better than windows.

BrightLibra@Gmail.com
BrightLibra@Gmail.com

Marcovj you are so very right about Linux "playing nice" with application software like JD Edwards and you CAN do it with just some basic thinking. WUBI helps make Linux more "attainable" for people who are not wire-heads or UNIX system administrators too. Android with the connection to phones may well be the way to get Linux better accepted.

M Wagner
M Wagner

Your needs are quite a bit different than those of the consumer and your depth of knowledge is dramatically more than the typical user of Windows (let alone Android).

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

Fortunately, for the majority of homer users, that's not important. Surfing the web and engaging in online activities safely is. There, Windows will never be better than Linux in general, android in particular.

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

..if your criteria is "runs every Windows legacy app, just like Windows, exactly, and makes money for Windows peddlers and techs."

marcovj
marcovj

Have you ever used (not tried) any Linux distro? I have been using Ubuntu on my work computer for almost 2 years now, and I have found that it is more plug & play, speedier and of course virus free than windows. For example I could configure network printers, JDE Edwards, etc by myself, while in windows the IT guy had to do it. By the way I use Ubuntu through wubi.

Vquest55
Vquest55

My understanding is Android is NOT a Linux distro & that is even from the mouths of Google.

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