There’ve been a number of attempts over the years to make Google Android feel more like Windows by adding support for running apps in resizeable windows or adding a taskbar and Metro-inspired color scheme.

Now Chinese chip maker Rockchip has launched a new solution. It’s called Light Work OS, and it’s a custom version of Android 5.1 that features a Start Menu, taskbar, and support for running apps in windows that can be positioned anywhere on the screen.

light work os_01

The first tablet to feature Light Work OS will reportedly be a custom version of the Pipo P9 tablet with a Rockchip RK3288 processor, a 10.1 inch, 1920 x 1200 pixel display, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.

The move comes at a time when low-cost Windows tablets with Intel Atom chips are competing with Android tablets featuring ARM-based processors. So it’s possible Rockchip tablets featuring it’s ARM-based chips more attractive by providing Windows-like features.

Of course, most Android apps weren’t designed to be used in this way. Some companies are trying to turn Android into a desktop-style OS, but while there are Android versions of popular Windows apps like Office, Photoshop, and VLC, they don’t necessarily behave the way Windows versions would.

Still, it’s interesting to see what can be done with Google’s open-source operating system that was originally designed exclusively for smartphones.

Oh yeah, and if you don’t like the Light Work OS experience, you can disable it: The Pipo P9 tablet will apparently have an option to use the stock Android Lollipop user interface.

via Mike Cane

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14 replies on “Rockchip’s “Light Work OS” is Android with a Start Menu, windowed apps”

  1. Just use Windows 10 for tablets, or Windows 10 Mobile for non-intel Chip machines.

    Honestly, don’t put lipstick on a pig and pretend it’s something it’s not. This thing won’t even hit the shelves before Microsoft sues the crap out of the manufacturer.

    I’ve got a Windows tablet with incredible battery life, better than anything I’ve ever had and it completely obliterates ANY iPad, MacBook Air or Android device – it makes them look like silly little toys.

  2. A start menu and an ersatz Windows logo on the desktop? That can’t go down well in Redmond.

  3. 3.x had the potential to be this, but then something went awry within Google.

    Still, the recent M (6.0?) previews held some unfinished support for tiling Android apps. So many we will see a return to Android as something more than a phone OS?

    1. Android also handles memory management differently than a desktop OS, so if you’re running a bunch of apps, sometimes one of the apps in the background will basically restart if you haven’t used it in a while — which means you might have to sit through a splash screen and loading menu when you switch back to that window at best… and at worst you might lose data.

      It’d take more than a fancy new skin to really make Android into a desktop OS.

      1. That is a crap app then. Android will first inform the app that it needs to shut down cleanly, and in doing so it has the full possibility to save state (much like a hibernated laptop, but for individual apps) that can then be loaded back quickly when the user switch to it. I have even seen games get this right, as tapping back into it after not playing for hours brings me right back to where i was located.

        And frankly, if you were to turn off virtual memory and started loading massive programs on a “desktop” OS, the behavior would be much the same (except for the state recovery after a OOM kill).

        The only reason we don’t see it much on desktops these days is that you have gigs of RAM to play with, and thus anything but the heaviest game or media editing program is hard pressed to push the limits.

        Heck, even on Android the only place i run into issues with with web browsers. And even then only on older devices with under a gig of RAM. And this in large part because web devs are downright lazy. I have seen sites that throw massive images at the browser, and expect it to resize them according to the CSS and JS locally.

        1. The reason people kept posting video showing off the Zenfone 2’s use of 4GB of RAM by loading 4-5 games and then cycling between them without waiting for any of the games to reload from scratch is because most Android devices *can’t* do that… so things are getting better.

          But whenever I’ve tried using an Android tablet + keyboard as a blogging machine to write articles for Liliputing, I’ve been amazed at how often a WordPress browser tab will automatically refresh and delete my progress. The WordPress mobile app might perform better, but I find it’s way too simple to use for anything other than making quick updates to articles.

          1. Yeah, using multiple browser tabs on an Android tablet can be an exercise in frustration.

        2. Its funny that in an attempt to win this argument, you had to disable virtual memory to bring the desktop PC to the same level as Android.

          Virtual Memory, or Page filing, is the very thing that separates Windows (or most other desktop OSes) from Android, in this regard. Desktop OSes have it, Android does not.

          It’s like saying “sure humans are more clever than most animals, but watch what happens when we take away those opposable thumbs, and that huge Neocortex”

          1. Linux has it, and Android could have it with root access. Not sure the emmc would take kindly to being used that way though.

    1. I’m eagerly waiting on that mini to be shipped. Glad to hear it’s working out on the tablets!

  4. Hmm I wonder if this could work on their 3188 processor. I got a Cube U30gt2 with the same specs but the earlier processor! ArcTablet take note please!

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