Windows apps on Android? Wine will do it... but not just yet

windows-on-android

Wine is well known to Linux and Mac users for opening up the possibility of running Windows software on their preferred operating system. The self-referentially-named software (Wine Is Not an Emulator) is due for a new release in the next few weeks, but the hoped-for Windows-on-Android support is not yet there.

That said, it is in the pipeline. Wine developers are working on integrating the existing CrossOver Android software into the open source Windows API. This will allow for Windows software to run in Android, but it won't make it into the up-coming Wine 2.0, and there are limitations.

The existing CrossOver Android preview lets you, in the words of developers Codeweavers, "run Windows software on Intel-based Chromebooks and Android tablets". "Android devices running on Intel chips?", you cry. Sure...these are indeed few and far between, but that's not really the point.

Writing on the Wine World News blog, André Hentschel shares a summary of Alexandre Julliard's keynote speech at WineConf 2016 from earlier this year:

The Wine developers decided to switch to time-based releases last year, so a code freeze will come soon, and Wine 2.0 will be released most likely in December or January. The expected main areas of development after 2.0 will be Aric’s HID support, the ongoing DirectX 11 work. Alexandre was hoping to merge the Android code CodeWeavers was working on before 2.0, but decided to postpone it because integrating the Java parts into the build system proved to be difficult.

So what's the point in Windows on Android if it is limited to Intel chips? While this may not cover many current phones and tablets, it does cater for certain Chromebooks that support Android apps -- and the potential to run Windows software on Chrome OS could give Chromebooks a much-needed boost. But there is also the possibility that Intel chips will become more widely used in phones and tablets; we're not at that point yet and, coupled with the niche markets that Chromebooks occupy, the delay in bringing Windows on Android support to Wine is understandable.

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