Want to run desktop Windows PC apps on your Android phone or tablet? We’ve seen developers porting classic games like Fallout to run on Android for years, and you can always install a DosBox app and try to run Windows 95 or something.
But soon there may be a better way.
WINE is a free and open source emulation layer that lets you run some Windows apps on Linux or OS X computers, and a company called Codeweavers offers a commercial utility called CrossOver that’s based on WINE.
Now it looks like CrossOver is coming to Android by the end of 2015… and the developers plan to share code with the WINE team, which means that both WINE and CrossOver could run on Android in the future.
So what exactly does this mean for Android users? It depends on what kind of Android device you’ve got.
First, the software that’s being developed only supports hardware with x86 processors. So if you’ve got an Android phone, tablet, or TV box with an Intel chip, you may be able to run some Windows apps. If you’ve got a model with an ARM-based chip, you may be out of luck, at least for now.
Second, it’s worth keeping in mind that most classic Windows apps were developed for machines with a keyboard and mouse, not a touchscreen. So while these tools may let you run desktop versions of StarCraft or Microsoft Office on an Android device, you may need to use external hardware to really get the most out of those apps and games.
It’s also worth noting that while the list of software that you can run through WINE and CrossOver is always growing, there’s also plenty of Windows software that doesn’t play well with WINE. So if you really need a system that has 100 percent compatibility with Windows apps, you’re probably best off getting a system that runs Windows.
Another thing to note? CodeWeavers is still trying to figure out a business model for CrossOver on Android. As things stand, CrossOver for Mac is more popular than it is for Linux, but the company says even that business is declining.