Why Choose? BlueStacks Lets Users Dual Boot Windows and Android

Start-up BlueStacks has emerged from stealth mode to wow the world with software that lets Windows PCs dual boot with Android.

The Campbell, Calif. company was thrown into the spotlight this week when Citrix announced during its Synergy 2011 user conference that it would be embedding BlueStacks into its desktop virtualization software, Citrix Receiver. A beta version of the BlueStacks feature is slated to be available with Receiver around the third quarter. But that's merely the news that gained BlueStacks instant celebrity status. Users will also soon be able to get BlueStacks on other devices. Eventually, the company intends to have a runtime version available directly to end users, too, although it is first selling its wares only to OEMs.

BlueStacks is the power behind the dual-boot ViewSonic ViewPad 10 Pro, which features Windows 7 and Android. BlueStacks runs Android in an x64 hypervisor. Android apps can appear either as an icon on the Windows desktop, or within a full Android environment. The software supports mouse and keyboard input, as well as multi-touch input. Android applications can run in Windows and be launched by shortcuts, just like a Windows app.

ViewSonic ViewPad

Of course, Android apps have been able to run on Windows through emulation for quite some time, with all the performance degradation that entails. But BlueStacks has taken the open source OS and built a native x86 Android runtime environment that it says will perform as well on a Windows machine as any Windows app. BlueStacks isn't the first to try and port Android to another OS. Canonical put in a toe in the water a couple of years ago, trying to bring Android to Ubuntu Linux, but ultimately, it never managed to create a production quality stack and that project faded from the spotlight.

But with OEM partnerships blossoming, such as the ones with Citrix and Viewsonic, and a new influx of $7.6 million in Series A financing from a handful of VCs, BlueStack is positioned for success.

The tool is of particular interest to Windows 7 tablet makers, as it gives users of such tablets access to the vast-and-growing Android marketplace. The BlueStacks software includes access to Android apps from Amazon’s AppStore and other app stores like GetJar and SlideMe through an "Apps" broker service. All apps accessible via the broker are guaranteed to work on Windows PC devices, the company promises, and apps purchased from Amazon can be shared across multiple PC and phone devices, it says. However, the software doesn't yet offer access to Google's Android Marketplace, because for now Google only allows apps from there to be downloaded to ARM-based devices, the company says.

BlueStacks will support Honeycomb, too, the company says, once Google opens that code and it works its way onto end users devices.

Announcements of more OEMs using BlueStacks are trickling out now, with news expected at the upcoming Computex event.  An Alpha version of the downloadable software could be available as soon as this summer. BlueStacks is collecting names of those interested in testing its Alpha code on its website.

The following video won't win any awards for its production quality, but it nicely shows off BlueStacks on the Dell Duo.