Want to play Android games or run other Android apps on a PC? There are a few ways to do that. You could install Android-x86, a port of Google’s mobile operating system for computers with Intel or AMD processors or try an Android emulator such as Bluestacks or Genymotion.

Now there’s another option. Console OS is an operating system based on Android 4.4 KitKat which has been optimized to run on computers with recent Intel Core or Atom processors. You can install Android as a standalone operating system or configure it as a dual-boot option to run alongside Windows.

The developers of Console OS raised money for the project during a crowdfunding campaign last year, and now Console OS Developer Release 1 is available for anyone to download and try for free.

console os

While Console OS can be installed much like a GNU/Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Fedora, there’s no support for live sessions in the initial Console OS Developer Release 1 version which launched in February, 2015. That means there’s no way to run the operating system from a flash drive without installing it — so if you’re not willing to make changes to you computer by installing the operating system to local storage, you might want to wait for a future release.

You can install Console OS using a USB flash drive. Just use the included Win32DiskImager utility to write the disk image to your flash drive (or if you’re using OS X or Linux use dd or another disk imaging tool) and then follow the instructions in the release notes for installing the operating system.

Note that you’ll need a computer with a 64-bit UEFI that has Secure Boot disabled. If you want to dual boot Windows and Console OS you’ll also need to turn off Windows encryption.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Console OS officially supports computers with Intel Bay Trail processors as well as machines with Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, or Haswell chips. If you have a computer with a different chip architecture, you may run into trouble. It’s probably a good idea to check out the list of supported devices before starting.

The developers of Console OS are also working on an updated version of the operating system based on Android 5.0 Lollipop. Eventually there will also be a Console OS Pro version with premium features including a window manager, remote access, native DVR (digital video recorder) features, and more. While Console OS is available as a free download, the Pro version will be subscription-based software, although backers of last year’s Kickstarter campaign will get free access.

via /r/Android

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26 replies on “Console OS brings Android to (some) PCs”

  1. It’d be neat if there was a version bundled into a VM or something that’d run inside Windows, similar to Bluestacks or Jar of Beans. I like having Android games on my Windows machine but I don’t want to have to boot into a separate OS.

    Edit: I guess I could probably set something up like that myself, but I’m not very familiar with running VMs.

    1. Console OS won’t run in a VM. The problem with running Android in a VM is that you can probably pull off text messaging, and some productivity, but there’s a huge performance hit when you go into more advanced functionality.

      The more Android becomes graphics-accelerated, integrates Android TV, and does precision graphics and gaming… the less running Android in a full VM will be viable.

      1. will there be more support for windows tablets? it is my plan that sometime soon i am going to test on my Thinkpad Tablet 10 which just got a 64 bit UEFI, but I’d really like to run it on my Winbook TW700 which is unfortunately still saddled with a 32 bit… is instaswitch going to be ready soon? I’d really love to be able to switch from windows to Android as easily as i switch to the Windows start screen only with 10x more apps

  2. Yawn. Let me know when there’s something like Alien Dalvik for Windows/Mac/Linux.

  3. I wonder if they’ll support Coreboot…I have a Chromebox that would probably work well for this.

  4. It is very much an open question as to whether this is a legit this kickstarter project and whether it will ever be a functional release. I guess time will tell.

  5. grr….android is just not a good gaming OS. Too much latency, unpredictable, etc. But it’s the right price, especially if you don’t need google’s apps.

    1. ………..
      It’s not like you are playing Starcraft 2 or MOBA on a mobile OS……

    2. That’s changing. There was a graphical lag in the sector in 2014 as Adreno didn’t bump and K1 just entered the marketplace. But Android has the momentum behind it and the platform-level capabilities to do pretty much anything SteamOS or Windows can do. There are only one or two boxes left to check for platform parity there.

      The tech demos we have at https://wiki.consoleos.com really show what KitKat and Lollipop can do in terms of Android gaming on a Core processor and GPU, and that’s really the next step… it’s where we’re demonstrating Android can handle it already.

      Also, in terms of “latency” – ART fixes that. An Android environment that is tuned to run a single game/app actually can blaze past Windows. Again, the next 18 months are going to really drive that progression.

  6. If the DVR fuction works perfectly in the pro version it would be worth a one time fee but not a subscription.

    1. Console OS Standard is free. As to Pro features, our Kickstarter backers voted that we should focus on getting to Lollipop as fast as possible. Once we get to Lollipop, then we’ll start to add them.

      FYI, you will find HDHomeRun DVR tuners work quite well, as do Android DVR apps that are compatible with them. Even with high-bandwidth streams that most Android DVRs don’t handle.

  7. so they do nothing that android-x86 and intel didn’t do before?
    going so far that they even don’t include amd-drivers, because intel never did… great.

    1. The difference is we target devices and tune them to run Android well. Android-x86.org uses open-source components and – I think we can say quite safely, doesn’t do as well on targeted machines. Console OS makes your PC run Android well, provided it’s supported. There’s a full comparison chart at ConsoleOS.com.

      1. so your response to “what do they do that others (free) don’t” is…
        “we do the same on less devices but ‘better'”

        could you elaborate how your product is better? not just “it is”

        1. Console OS for example will have much higher graphics performance because it uses a differnet graphical engine. It also supports legacy ARM NDK apps. It installs easier. Etc, etc.

          The comparison chart at ConsoleOS.com, again, will give you the best overview.

    2. From what I can tell ConsoleOS took the approach of creating an Android build specifically to run as a gaming platform. It targets narrow ranges of hardware and the intent seems to be to cosy up to OEMS. Unlike Android-x86 you shouldn’t ever expect a generic release of ConsoleOS to run on any random Windows-spec box, never expect multiwindowing, multimonitor, or anything else a desktop OS needs. It’s just a game box, trying to be a good game box. Not a desktop OS.

    3. My favorite feature that I want out of Console OS is running Apps in a windowed mode.

      Having a browser, notepad, and calculator running simultaneously sounds handy.

      1. i still don’t care at all about solutions to replace my OS with something different. Yes, i can use Android-x86 on my HTPC.

        What i would wish was simply a debian-package containing dalvik/art.
        Just a way to run any Android-App on a true OS. (and since we are talking about kind of a Java-VM, that’s released as opensource, that shouldn’t be that hard. but noone does it)

        1. If you want to run Android Apps in Linux or Windows, Google is slowly implementing Android app support in Chrome. You need a runtime called ARChon, and you need to compile the app using compiler on your android device.

          I haven’t had any luck with the few apps I was interested in running (Netflix, and Minecraft)

          1. i know

            thats completely not what i had in mind (and it worked poorly in every test i did)

            it doesn’t make any sense to bundle that runtime with the browser. The only reason it’s done that way: both are google-products.

  8. Been done up for pc use but a window manager is a premium feature?
    And the idea is to build a subscription OS around open source technology? Good luck with that.

      1. He’s updset that the windowed mode is part of the pro feature. He doesn’t want to pay for it

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