Google Android may be designed for smartphones and tablets, but for the past few years a team of developers has been porting the open source operating system to run on just about any computer with an Intel or AMD processor. Now they’re just about ready to launch a version of Android 4.4 KitKat for PCs with x86 processors.
You can download a release candidate from the Android-x86 project website.
Android-x86 4.4-RC1 is based on Google Android 4.4.2 KitKat, but it includes a number of additions to help it run on tablets, netbooks, and other devices with x86 chips.
Among other things, the update includes support for playing HD videos in apps thanks to improved ffmpeg integration, OpenGL ES hardware acceleration for Intel and AMD graphics processors (but not older Intel Atom chips with PowerVR graphics), and support for most hardware including WiFi, Bluetooth, audio, cameras, and multitouch input.
While Google and Intel work together to ensure that Android can run on devices with Intel’s Atom chips for phones and tablets, the Android-x86 team has been making good on its mission to let you run the open source operating system on traditional PCs for years.
For users, it also provides a way to get a little more life out of old computers by installing new software. Don’t need your Windows XP netbook anymore? Why not turn it into an Android machine for web browsing and casual gaming?
Update: MonsterCameron has taken Android-x86 for a spin on a netbook with an AMD C-50 processor. While it’s not incredibly stable and not all apps run perfectly, it does support HD video playback, WiFi, and more. You can find more details in the (lengthy) video below.