Bluestacks runs Android apps on a PC

A deal with Citrix will help users manage the Android apps the same as Windows apps

Bluestacks plans to soon start offering technology that will let PC users run Android apps on their laptops and desktops.

The company, which expects to announce OEM partners next week and a partnership with Citrix on Thursday, has developed its own virtualization technology that runs a full version of the Android OS on X86 machines running Windows.

The company declined to share details about how its virtualization technology works but said it allows Android, which was designed for lower-powered smartphones, to run efficiently on PCs. "This is not like running two copies of Windows," said Rosen Sharma, president and CEO of Bluestacks. "The traditional performance hit when you think of virtualization is not relevant."

End users don't have to toggle between operating systems. They can simply click on an icon for an Android application, for instance, to launch and use it, he said.

While most Android apps were built for touchscreens, Bluestacks users will be able to use a mouse or mousepad to control applications, he said.

The company plans to similarly enable apps built for other OSes like WebOS and Meego to run on Windows machines, he said.

Some enterprises are interested in running Android apps on an installed base of PCs because they are building internal Android apps before all employees have Android devices, Sharma said. The technology could also make it easier for enterprises to build single apps that work across Android phones and Windows machines.

Bluestacks plans to announce on Thursday that it is working with Citrix so that enterprises will be able to extend their existing policies around Windows apps to the Android environment. That means companies will be able to distribute and manage the apps, execute backups, and apply policies the same way for the Android apps as they already do for Windows.

That capability will solve some issues that enterprises have had when facing the challenge of separately managing an Android application environment, Sharma said.

Bluestacks also thinks that consumers, particularly young people who are even more comfortable with their smartphones than computers, will be interested in using their favorite apps on a laptop.

Bluestacks expects that next week it will announce partnerships with chipmakers as well as OEM customers that plan to load the software onto machines.

In addition, it hopes to start allowing anyone to download the software to an existing machine starting in June or July.

Other companies have also started using virtualization and Android to enable various scenarios, but typically on smartphones. For instance, VMware has demonstrated technology that lets people run two versions of Android on a smartphone, keeping separate a secure profile for work applications. Open Kernel Labs has technology that lets individual applications run in virtual machines, securing them from possible vulnerabilities in the rest of the phone. Enterproid has also developed technology for separating enterprise and personal apps on Android phones.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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