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Intel's big CES news: Computers that run both Windows and Android

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Plenty of computers makers have tried and failed to bring Windows and Android together, but that’s not stopping Intel from trying.

Intel is planning to announce a new push next week at CES for computers that run both Windows and Android, sources tell the Verge.

The initiative, internally dubbed “Dual OS,” would see Android running inside of a Windows PC in a virtualized environment, allowing you to run Android apps right alongside your Windows program. That’s similar to what companies like Bluestacks have been offering for the past few years. (We were the first to report that Intel had invested in Bluestacks earlier this year.)

Multiple sources have also confirmed to VentureBeat that Intel is working on a hybrid Windows/Android scheme. Intel will likely call the new initiative “PC Plus” once it launches, our sources said.

The news resembles Intel’s push for thin and light “Ultrabooks” a few years ago (on the heels of Apple’s successful MacBook Air). The Verge points out that Microsoft may be attempting to muscle PC makers out of Intel’s initiative, according to Patrick Moorhead, the lead analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

The big problem for Intel? It’s unclear if anybody actually wants a Windows PC that runs Android apps — so this likely won’t do much to fix the slowdown in overall PC sales. Bluestacks has seen its Android app player downloaded more than 10 million times as of last May, which is a sign that some consumers are intrigued by the idea of Android inside Windows, but certainly isn’t proof that that would be a selling point for a new PC.

Last June, Samsung debuted the Ativ Q, a convertible Windows 8 tablet that runs Android apps similar to Intel’s Dual OS concept. Samsung has yet to release that device, however, so we can’t tell if the feature was intriguing enough to generate sales.

The Dual OS solutions sounds like it fixes plenty of problems for Intel, but not many for consumers. Intel completely missed the boat on mobile processors, allowing ARM-based designs to take over the mobile market. An initiative to combine Windows and Android would be a simple way to sell its new Baytrail processor, which is notable for its optimized ability to run both operating systems.

But would the addition of Android apps do much to sway consumers who are considering Android tablets instead of a new Intel-based PC? I don’t think so.

It could be that Intel has more up its sleeves that could make the “Dual OS” concept more enticing. We recently ran a guest post that hypothesized what a Microsoft Android fork could look like — an idea which seems a bit ludicrous at first, but got a surprisingly positive reaction from our readers. That makes me think Intel’s plan isn’t entirely bonkers.

Next week, we’ll see if it’s more than just an interesting thought experiment.

More information:

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