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CrossOver And Wine Enables Android To Run Windows Software

October 8, 2015 - Written By Debarshi Nayak

The only drawback of getting an Android device up until now was that you couldn’t tap into the vast resources of software a full fledged Windows OS enjoys. Now thanks to the efforts of certain familiar software, this can be made possible, albeit with some caveats. Android devices will soon be able to run Windows applications, made possible by CrossOver for Android. This excellent piece of software has already been announced, and will be launched by the end of 2015. In the meantime, you can subscribe to their mailer list to stay notified about various updates and the launch. Wine for Android has also been in development for quite a few years now. As of now it is possible to run android apps on windows but the reverse will soon be a reality.

For the uninitiated, CodeWeavers is a company founded in 1996 that develops a commercial compatibility layer, which makes it possible for Windows application to run on Linux. The proprietary software CrossOver is based on the open source project Wine For Linux and is regularly updated with patches and from Wine. Codeweavers is also a major contributor to the Wine Project. They regularly assist developers port their games and applications to Mac and Linux from Windows, wrapping them in a compatibility layer. Wine, on the other hand, is an open source compatibility layer whose goal is running Windows software on non-Windows systems by re-implementing the Windows API.

And now, CodeWeavers announced CrossOver for Android, and noted that a free tech preview of the software would be available soon. The patches will be shared with Wine, and other builds of Wine for Android are soon expected to follow. Though it sounds amazing, it has its own limitations, very few of which have workarounds. One major problem it will face is the touchscreen interface, as Windows applications are optimized to run with mouse and keyboard only. Though on the bright side, there are a quite few Android powered desktops in the market which can utilize this technology.

The biggest limitation Wine for Android faces is the architecture Windows software is based on. CrossOver and Wine for Android only supports x86 based Android systems powered by Intel or AMD. Typical Android devices will not work because of ARM processors. This makes perfect sense as all Windows binaries are either x86 or x84 applications and they will not run on ARM. Windows RT, though based on ARM, never allowed desktop software to run on it. The only way around it is containing a virtual machine to run on ARM chips in order to allow x86 applications to work at all. This is also why Chromebook, being ARM powered, cannot run Windows applications. CodeWeavers is also reportedly working on DirectX 11 support for Wine, which will increase the support and compatibility for a lot of Windows exclusive games into Linux.