Can Intel turn Android into Windows?

The chipmaker is ready to turn Android into a full-fledged 'client' operating system, much like Windows has been.

Dell's Venue 8 runs Android on top of an Intel Atom processor.  It starts at $180.
Dell's Venue 8 runs Android on top of an Intel Atom processor. It starts at $180. Dell

If there were any doubts that Intel wants to embrace Android as a Windows equal, they were erased this week.

Speaking at the chipmaker's investor meeting on Thursday, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, said the following:

The reality is for the last decade we've been essentially 100 percent Microsoft on the client [but] we're starting to see in emerging markets...demands for Android.

A lot of Android apps were written for a portrait mode. A significant percentage don't even exist in landscape mode, so they can't scale to large screens, whether it's a notebook or an all-in-one. So, we're going to do a number of things here. We're going to scale Android to 64-bit. We're going to allow it to scale from Atom [processors] all the way to the high-end of the Core processor family. We're enable it to deliver a great experience as we go into larger scale screens, allow mutli-windowing.

We don't yet have the ability to treat it as a full-on enterprise vPro client [so] there's a significant investment as we embrace Android.

Translation? Part of the plan is to get Android running on devices, aka clients, that to date were considered PCs. You know, devices that look like laptops -- and presumably computers powering big screens -- that corporate America can gravitate to.

And the multi-windowing part is interesting. He's talking about something beyond the multi-windowing currently available on Android.

Ultimately, demand will determine how Android evolves. "The strategy is very simple: we're going to support what the market desires," Skaugen said.

That likely means Android will be moving into territory that was once exclusive to Windows.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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