Thousands of Android apps optimized for AMD-based Windows 8 machines. That's the idea behind an AMD AppZone Player and an AppZone marketplace announced Thursday by Advanced Micro Devices and BlueStacks.
The player is designed to run the many Android apps designed for smartphones and tablets on a Windows 8 tablet, notebook, all-in-one or desktop PC. A month before the Windows 8 launch, best estimates are that there are only 2000 applications designed for that new Microsoft platform.
In the announcement Thursday on its corporate blog, AMD noted that many consumers have an Android phone and a Windows PC, and either prefer to use the Android app on both devices, or find that there is no equivalent for the PC.
The player also allows syncing apps and SMS messages between BlueStacks' Cloud Connect service and an Android device, which, AMD said in a statement, turns a Windows-based PC into "an extension of an Android mobile device and vice versa."
The beta version of BlueStacks' Android App Player was first unveiled in March, and it allowed Android apps to run in a window or full screen on Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 machines. A Mac version was released in June. Intel-based Windows 8 PCs and tablets have taken most of the press attention for that platform thus far, so having a larger universe of applications could stimulate interest in AMD-based Windows 8 machines.
AMD points out that there are "many challenges with running apps that were originally designed for phones or tablets on a PC," such as display on a larger screen with higher resolution.
To deal with the challenges, AMD-backed BlueStacks has designed the Player specifically for AMD Radeon graphics and, in particular, for the OpenGL drivers found in AMD's APU and GPU chips.
BlueStacks CEO Rosen Sharma told news media that, with the Player and Cloud Connect, "app developers can rest assured their Android apps will run directly on Windows without any code changes," and consumers can "enjoy their favorite mobile apps on the larger, more immersive screen of their PC." The companies said they were working with several OEMs to pre-load the AppZone Player on AMD-based devices.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, said that, even though thousands of Android apps will immediately become available for Windows 8 machines through this player, it's not likely "to affect the platform one way or another."
But, he said, there's always the possibility that the the AMD-optimized AppPlayer could actually send Windows 8 buyers down more "rabbit holes" of confusion. First, he noted, buyers will have to understand that Windows RT for ARM-based devices and Windows 8 differ, with RT not being backward compatible while 8 is. Then, with this AppPlayer, one would need to understand that it's intended for AMD-based Windows 8 devices.