How to Run Your Favorite Non-Android Apps Using Virtualization
Whether it is for advanced computer professionals or average computer users, we all have different tastes and preferences that we go after when it comes to picking an operating system, some adore the look-and-feel of Mac OS, some appreciate the wide variety of applications available for Windows, some are fond of flavors of Linux variants, some have the craving for the richness of the wild generation of Android devices, and so on, all for seeking a system environment an individual is comfortable with. But does it imply that due to distinct choices made we trap ourselves into different OS communities, secluded, and never to enjoy what members of other communities do? In particular, what does it all signify for Android lovers? Please follow along.
Although those different systems have their pros and cons, that is not the topic of our discussion here. But one crucial point is that many software programs may not be readily available for all operating systems because the maker of a certain application may have designed its product targeting to run on certain brands of operating systems and excluded others.
When an individual becomes used to a certain OS and decides to stick to it, he or she is seemingly tied with – free or otherwise – all the options, features, applications, services, etc pertaining to that particular OS only, and NOT to an OS of a different type. Afterwards, when a new application comes along and draws attention, the individual is bound to think, “Is it compatible with my operating system?”
Going along that thread of thoughts, let me ask you these questions:
Did you ever wonder whether there was any version of an interesting program for your favorite platform, say Mac OS, which you heard was available for another platform you didn’t use, say Windows? Did you wish there had been one?
Chances are that you did. We all did it at certain point in time, once or multiple times. I, myself, for example, browsed the Internet for hours looking for a Windows version of the famous game – Angry Birds – when I came to know that it was initially aimed for Android. Even before Android came into being and successfully established itself as a very popular platform to be used on smart devices, we would make choices on one OS over another. Of course, nothing has changed in that regard today. We still make choices like that except that today there is flexibility we can take advantage of; “virtualization”.
What is virtualization?
Here is what it is in techie terms. Application virtualization is a type of technology that hides application software from the host OS on which it is run. It mimics an environment in such a way that the application is fooled into thinking that it is interacting with the original OS when in reality it is not. Diagram below indicates how an application runs on 2 different types of OS (Click the image to see full size diagram).
In layman terms, in plain simple English, it means that your favorite application can run happily and make you happy by doing its usual things, while remaining oblivious to the fact that you are not hosting it under the OS it was designed for. What about Android? Yes, you guessed it right. Such is also possible between Android and a major operating system, given that an appropriate virtualization tool exists.
Android –> Windows
BlueStacks can run Android and its apps on Windows by means of virtualization. You can either install Android apps directly on your Windows PC or have the full-fledged Android environment along with Windows such that you can switch to the Windows desktop with one click. It eliminates having to have both Windows and Android devices. It is seamless in that one can switch between Windows and Android in one touch.
Windows –> Android
OnLive Desktop works the other way around and allows you to have remote service from your Windows PC. Once a remote connection is established from your Android tablet, control of the Windows machine is given to you. The picture on the top shows as if you are running Microsoft PowerPoint on your Android tablet!
Details of the above two tools, as well as any other virtualization software, may be obtained by consulting the websites of the respective vendors (we are also publishing tutorials about those applications in the coming weeks). The point here is not to feature specific products but to accentuate the notion that we are no longer limited by our preferred OS and that we can adopt the flexibility of crossing the boundary between platforms if we feel like, so that readers get encouraged to try out virtualization.
There are varied complexities in ways to run multiple OS types on the same machine. People have been doing things like configuring the boot environment so that at startup they select which OS to run, installing different operating systems on different partitions, etc. Those daring to take risks can try all of them. But those who wish to take a safer approach to the same objective – not to let go applications available for other operating systems – can rest assured that the Android world is open to them with virtualization tools.