A few months back, some of HP's future plans with webOS were leaked. They later confirmed the leak by telling us that they plan to include webOS (alongside Windows) with every PC that they sell in 2012. At first, I thought it was a crazy idea. Who would want a mobile OS on a netbook or laptop? Then it hit me that this will only mature our favorite mobile platforms and help them flourish and into much more than just a "phone and tablet OS."
Running a mobile OS in parallel or atop a desktop OS can be both entertaining and useful. Even before all of this webOS news, I knew it would only be a matter of time before Android found itself being used on PCs. Though it isn't the first time we've heard of Google's platform running on a computer (Android SDK emulator among others), these newer methods are less like hack-jobs and more polished and user friendly.
One version is provided by a company by the name of CUPP. They aim to make use of an ARM – the ARM took the place of an optical drive in the demo – in an existing machine which will allow you to switch between a desktop OS and mobile OS by the flick of a switch or press of a button. As Darren Murph of Engadget explains, you could be on your last ten minutes of juice on OSX and switch over to Android, which might last another hour, two, or more. CUPP's product is expected to be out by no later than Q4 of this year, but there is no word on pricing.
The other method is by BlueStacks, which offers Android visualization – this actually appears to be more of an emulator of sorts – over the top of Windows. This method allows both operating systems to share utilities and drivers, which can extend the capabilities of the Android software. For instance, if you want to print a document while in Android, you can use the desktop's existing drivers to print. Currently, BlueStacks is only available in test form and comes without access to Android Market, though the test builds come with Amazon's Appstore to boot. Again, no word on any pricing yet.
As application support surges, it is giving mobile platforms a leg-up over our desktops. Mobile applications are more lightweight, less resource intensive, generally cheaper, and more abundant. As this trend continues and mobile platforms become more desktop-like, running these featherweight platforms alongside or atop a full OS will be able to serve a multitude of purposes.
I'm one of those crazy individuals that feel that mobile operating systems have a lot more potential than most of us realize. This is the first step in discovering what can be accomplished with the software. I don't expect to see Android taking the place of Windows anytime soon. But with as many PC manufacturers as there are that are making both Android phones and tablets, it is only a matter of time before we see HP's theory expanded to all PCs with several mobile platforms as bootable options.