'PC Plus' Machines Being Prepped For CES To Run Android On Windows In Retaliation Against MSFT

How desperate are OEMs to make lemonade out of the Windows 8.1 RT lemon? They’re going to be pushing something called a “PC Plus” initiative at CES this year, which in a nutshell is simply the ability for Windows tablets and laptops to run Android apps or dual-boot Windows and Android.

According to Tim Bajarin at Time, in one scenario this will be done through software emulation, wherein users will be able to run Android apps on top of Windows 8.1. Analyst Patrick Moorhead told ComputerWorld that other paradigms would include running Android in a virtual machine on top of Windows or else a straightforward dual-boot situation where users could switch between Windows and Android, perhaps with the simple tap of a button.

Regardless, the whole PC Plus effort, if it gains any traction at all, is a sad state of affairs for Windows RT.
ASUS Transformer Book Trio
ASUS' Transformer Book Trio dual boots Android and Windows

For one thing, it’s a tacit indictment by OEMs of the latest mobile Windows operating system, and in particular its lack of apps. The Windows app store is growing, to be sure, but--and this is a contested point even among some of us at HH--it’s still not up to snuff when you compare it to the number of available Android and iOS apps.

Put another way: There are so few apps available for Windows 8.1 that PC makers feel it necessary to emulate apps designed to run on an entirely different platform. Worse, they’re in some cases going to be offering a different operating system altogether. Hopefully the emulations will be good ones, but in any case that’s still just an ugly patch over a nagging problem.

BlueStacks already offers the ability to run Android apps on Windows and Mac OS X with its LayerCake technology, and there have been products that offer dual-booting capabilities before, but this PC Plus initiative looks to be more than just a neat option for consumers--if it materializes, it appears to be a desperate, concerted effort by OEMs to prop up sales of their Windows devices.

Microsoft Surface 2
Microsoft Surface 2

PC makers are frustrated right now. At a time when traditional PC sales are being cannibalized by tablets, they needed Microsoft to deliver a compelling operating system that would boost interest in new Microsoft-driven device types, but instead they got an OS that’s proven to be unpopular with consumers thus far (sometimes unfairly, sometimes not). At the same time, Microsoft started competing directly with them when it rolled out its own line of Surface tablets.

Whether or not there will be any PC Plus fallout from Microsoft remains to be seen, but in any case, if this all comes to fruition, Redmond will likely be rather embarrassed by the whole thing.

Minor updates to this article were made, 12/27 - 2:55PM