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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Desktop - Android's Next Frontier

                     Android, soon in a desktop near you

The Android operating system is an indisputable success. A few weeks ago, it was with an average of 400,000 activations per week.

But not only that: Tablets, E-readers, portable gaming devices, everything seems to go in the direction of Android (and ARM).

And as a natural evolution, the ARM architecture is slowly entering the server room.

And, it  seems inevitable.

ARM on the server? What a joke ...
Yeah, all the critics cite that the ARM architecture is only 32 bits, can not do mult threads effectively, and besides, what operating system would run on this architecture?
Even more as a server ...

But several factors are driving the development of servers with ARM architecture: ARM chips  are much cheaper than Intel ones, and much more efficient in terms of power consumption and heat dissipation, the so-called Green Computing

So, after this information, is not  surprising the announcement that ARM would be working to launch 64-bit versions of their processors, targeting the server's market

But what does the expansion of ARM processors and their journey towards the server's room has to do with the Android desktop? Many things, since the expansion of the ARM chips is forcing Intel to move...

Android on the desktop - Increasingly close ...

The growth of the ARM architecture, and therefore, the entire Android ecosystem is pressuring Intel to do something.

After years and years making  more powerful processors (and therefore) more expensive and energy hungry, Intel is trying to leapfrog in the mobile sector , feeling the pressure of the ARM chips  closer and closer, and watching its influence being undermined. Not that Intel has not tried, it tried, with Meego (thanks to the Nokia / MS deal, it went down the drain) and now with a new attempt, the Tizen. But these efforts are still timid.

The power of x86 fades...

Even Microsoft, Intel partner for many years, is failing to become relevant in this new mobile market (phones, tablets, netbooks), and their new systems are greeted with yawns (at the best).

Intel is cornered, feeling that the legacy software (which always helped Microsoft & Intel) no longer has so much importance (nor relevance). And Microsoft's attempt at the ARM architecture  begins already flawed
The new ARM platform, however, already has Linux as one of its traditional operating systems (Debian Arm has existed for a considerable time).



If you build it they will come

Exactly, and since Intel can not depend anymore on its largest  partner (Microsoft is also going to the ARM side of the force - has become a licensee, to produce its own ARM processors), it is working to improve Android in the x86, and of course, making mobile x86 chips to compete with ARM ones.

So, Intel is pushing Android to run on x86 architecture very well, even releasing  SoC x86 chips, that rival  ARM chips capabilities.

And some say that Intel will dismantle the reign of ARM in the mobile

And there's more: The Android kernel is being inserted back in the Linux mainline kernel.


What this might mean?

As Mr. Pogson wrote, this means a whole ecosystem now quite mature (all Android Apps) becoming available for Linux, yes, that common Linux (Ubuntu, Debian., etc...) could run Android applications. And thus, the Android would go the opposite way of what Microsoft intends with windows 8, making a mobile operating system run on the desktop.


But, What About Chrome OS?
Despite being a radical concept, having an operating system that only works "in the cloud" is something that is not ready to happen yet. Not now, we do not have the infrastructure that such a system requires. And besides, who will rely on storing files in the "cloud"? Sensitive files ? Webmail services(a cloudy example) have already given many evidences that they may fail, and fail badly.


What to expect ...?

The strengthening of the Android platform on the desktop will be a great evolution for Linux. The operating system that was received with contempt by some IT companies, as a hobbyist's toy. It will bring more applications to the Linux ecosystem (that are now exclusive to the Android platform) and  will certainly make Linux very popular.

However, two companies, Microsoft and Apple are not being able to compete with Android in the market, and are resorting to lawsuits to stop the growth of the platform, how will they  react when  Android begins to appear on the desktop?

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By Alessandro Ebersol with 1 comment
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