While most Linux purists prefer to stick to programs natively designed to run on their favorite distros, there are times when a user runs into a wall. Maybe they absolutely need Microsoft Office, or perhaps their favorite game just isn’t Linux compatible. That’s where WINE and CrossOver come in handy, making it possible to run some Windows applications with relative ease. And now that same magic is making its way over to the world of Android.
For those that don’t know, WINE is an application layer that fills in the missing ‘bits’ that aren’t found on Linux and other non-Windows platforms (okay, an obvious oversimplification.. but you get the idea), allowing Windows programs to work at essentially the same speed as they would on Microsoft’s own OS. How well these programs work varies from nearly perfect to buggy as all get out.
Crossover is coming to Android by the end of this year, with WINE to follow sometime shortly after.
What WINE isn’t is an emulator, and is instead billed as a “compatibility layer”. In fact, WINE actually stands for “Wine Is Not an Emulator”. As for CrossOver? This is the commercial side of WINE, with more app/game specific optimizations. CrossOver actually funds WINE, and in return utilizes WINE’s progress to help further its own goals.
So back to the main topic here: Crossover is coming to Android by the end of this year, with WINE to follow sometime shortly after. It’s unclear how Crossover and WINE might differ from their Linux counterparts, but the end goal is the same: the ability to run popular Windows programs on your Android device. Considering that many traditional Windows programs aren’t designed with touch in mind, we imagine this will be more useful for tablet users that want to improve their productivity and aren’t afraid of attaching a keyboard and mouse to do it.
If the idea of running Windows programs sounds at all intriguing to you, don’t get too excited yet, as there is one big caveat. Because WINE and Crossover aren’t emulators, Windows programs will still require an x86 processor. That means that the majority of Android devices, which run ARM-based chips, won’t be able to utilize this tech. On the bright side, the number of Intel-powered Android devices is on the rise, especially in the budget tablet segment. Even the smartphone world is seeing a few well-received Intel-powered options, like the Asus ZenFone 2.
If you happen to have an Intel-powered Android device, or are considering getting one in the future, you can sign up to be notified when the CrossOver for Android “Technology Preview” is ready to go. What do you think, any situations where you think that being able to run Windows programs on Android would come in handy?