We’ve shown you how to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on Windows in the past by emulating it as a virtual Operating System using VirtualBox. But there was one major problem with the virtual machine’s performance — it was very slow even after allocating more than enough system resources to it. The reason behind this problem was a kernel level issue. We were trying to emulate an Operating System that ran on a Linux based kernel on a Windows machine and so, lag was ensued.
Thankfully, an Android enthusiast who goes by the name Socketeq has successfully ported Android 4.0 ICS natively to Windows. The port, known as WindowsAndroid, uses the Windows kernel and leverages the machine’s hardware for providing hardware acceleration for graphics and media codecs. As a result, the port runs way more smoother than emulators.
WindowsAndroid: Download and Installation
The port can be downloaded from the link given below. Please note that you will be asked to fill a form by entering your personal details such as your name and email address. If as paranoid as me about giving your real email address in public for the fear of spam, you can use a disposable email service such as 10MinuteMail or Mailinator.
WindowsAndroid port uses your PC’s internet connection so you can browse the internet on the port too. The port supports simple I/O devices such as keyboard, mouse, remote sensors and Ethernet, PPPOE as well. Currently supported keyboard keys are:
- Arrow keys: for navigating around
- Enter key: for selecting an item
- Esc. key: acts as the back key
WindowsAndroid will start either in phone mode or tablet mode depending on your monitor’s resolution. The tablet mode requires a resolution of at least 1280 x 800 pixels.
Although WindowsAndroid is pretty stable for daily use, you might still encounter frequent app crashes. Don’t try to open the Camera app, it will freeze WindowsAndroid.
Installing Play Store and Other Google Apps
WindowsAndroid does not come pre-installed with Play Store or other Google Apps such as Gmail, Youtube, Gtalk, etc. and you’ll have to manually install it. To do so, download Google Apps zip file from the following link:
Download: GApps (~50 MB)
Next, extract the zipped file somewhere and making sure WindowsAndroid isn’t running, copy all the contents of the system folder into:
Where X is the driver where WindowsAndroid is installed on your PC. Google Apps, including the Play Store app, will now be present in the app drawer. You’ll have to first add a Google account to use them though.
Directly downloading the APK of Play Store from the Android browser and installing it might also be a possible option, but it didn’t work for me.
Important: Unsupported Apps in Play Store?
Android has a feature for developers that lets them restrict apps to certain devices only. Since WindowsAndroid isn’t a real device, most of the apps won’t be available for you on the Play Store. Fortunately, getting around this issue is a very easy task and only involves editing a file using Notepad:
1) Navigate to the system folder:
and open the build.prop file using any text editor. Notepad++ is my favorite, but the default Notepad app will do.
2. Look for these 4 lines:
ro.product.model=full Android on Microsoft Windows, pad, pc, n*books
The above lines tell the Play Store that you’re some unknown device named as WindowsAndroid. Change them to:
Next, look for these 2 lines:
ro.build.description=WindowsAndroid-eng 4.0.3 IML74K eng.jeffrey.20121218.132850 test-keys
Change them to:
ro.build.description=occam-user 4.2 JOP40C 527662 release-keys
And you’re done! This will fool the Play Store into thinking that you’re using a Nexus 4 \m/
You’ll now be able to download all the apps that are supported on the Nexus 4.
Side-loading of apps is possible in WindowsAndroid by copying the APKs to its sdcard folder, but it’s mostly a hit or miss process. 8 out of 10 apps that I tried side-loading crashed without even startin. You may try it anyway by copying the APK files to:
However, you’ll require a file explorer app to install them. You can either download it from the Play Store or side-load a file explorer app by copying its APK to the following location:
Don’t forget to restart WindowsAndroid after copying the APK.
Talking about file explorer apps, I highly recommend Solid Explorer app for its excellent UI and functionalities. It’s a paid app ($2), but includes a trial period of 2 weeks. If you own an Android phone/tablet then it’s a must have app. Astro File Manager is also a very good app if you’re looking for a completely free app.
WindowsAndroid is an excellent tool which you can use simply for fun. If you’re a developer then you can also use it for testing applications since it’s a tad faster than the Android SDK emulator. The developer says that porting of newer versions of Android is currently under progress.