Several computer makers were showing off netbook and smartbook prototypes running Google Android at the Computex trade show earlier this month. While the operating system was originally designed for cellphones with small screens and relatively slow processors, Google Android can be tweaked to play well with larger displays, and a decent array of processors. And according to at least two analysts at Gartner, Android on a device with an ARM based processor is “very snappy,” and in fact, more responsive than Windows 7 on a device with a faster Intel Atom processor.
Of course, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Android is an operating system with a small memory footprint both in terms of disk space and RAM requirements. Windows 7, on the other hand, is a full fledged desktop operating system that requires hundred of megabytes of RAM and several gigabytes of storage space to run properly.
If all you’re looking for is a responsive system with a web browser and a modest library of third party applications, Google Android might be good enough. If you want to run Microsoft Office or other full fledged desktop apps for Windows, then Android’s not going to be able to help you. But I have started to warm to the idea of Android as a viable platform for netbooks/smartbooks. What changed my mind? The fact that there already appears to be a working version of the Firefox web browser for Android. Perhaps other Linux apps including OpenOffice.org will be ported soon as well?