BlueStacks goes Metro with Windows 8

Worried there just won't be enough apps to sate your Windows 8 cravings? Fear not, Angry Birds-obsessives. BlueStacks has a working demo that launches Android apps on Microsoft's gestating operating system.

LAS VEGAS--BlueStacks isn't a household name, but it's about to become arguably one of the most useful pieces of preinstalled software on Windows 8 computers.

At the 2012 Consumer Electronic Show here today, BlueStacks revealed a functional demo that runs Android apps of all kinds on Windows 8. This follows last year's debut of the software and release as a rough alpha for Windows 7 , but it comes with a piece of unexpected news. The software maker has been in talks with hardware manufacturers to ship the program preinstalled on Windows 8. A beta of the Windows 7 version was also cagily given a release date of sometime before the second quarter of 2012.

BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma, spoke confidently about the impact that his software will have. "The Metro UI is beautiful, but the number one thing Windows 8 is missing is apps," he said. "This changes all that." BlueStacks claimed in the press release for the announcement that its software "makes creating mobile apps for the Windows 8 platform unnecessary," a gutsy claim for a program that has yet to have even one stable version on the market.

As you can see in our First Look video above or in the official BlueStacks promo, the Windows 8 integration works with the Metro interface, creating tiles for Android apps that look and feel like they're Metro apps. It effectively eliminates the concern that Windows 8 won't have enough apps to compete with iOS and Android by bringing the entire Android library to the system. The software will support both Metro and traditional windowed modes.

BlueStacks presides over the first Windows-Android wedding
BlueStacks has just left the smoke-filled realms of vaporware in the form of a real, downloadable alpha version for all to play with. It's a bit rough, but if you're dying to use Android in a Windows environment, this is your best bet so far.

To be uncharitable about it, your Windows 8 system could very well include software that runs Android apps. But is it bloatware if it's actually unique and useful?

BlueStacks' Rosen says that most of the people at Microsoft he's spoken to have been receptive to BlueStacks powering Android apps on Windows. "Microsoft gets all the apps that they want," he said in an interview before CES.

BlueStacks for Windows 8 has buttoned up several hardware partners, although it was reluctant to name more than a few names at this time. It did call out AMD, which has BlueStacks available for hands-on demos on computers at its CES booth; Hewlett-Packard, which will be providing the software on its All-in-One PCs; and InHon, a Taiwanese newcomer to the PC marketplace that will be releasing a carbon-fiber ultrabook line in March 2012. InHon will include BlueStacks on its upcoming Windows 7 line, as well as its Windows 8 computers when they come out later in 2012.

In brief hands-on testing, the Windows 8 version of BlueStacks worked as smoothly as the Windows 7 version. Apps downloaded from the Amazon Marketplace, which BlueStacks uses as its Android market, instantly had tiles created on the Metro side of Windows 8. Apps opened with little delay, and navigating through the news aggregation app Pulse and playing the several games I used was equally problem free.

BlueStacks is an impressive tool, both in implementation and usability, but I'm still not convinced that BlueStacks is going to appeal to a huge number of Windows/Android users.

 

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