AMD to bundle BlueStacks software with retail PCs

Dual-booting Android and Windows might not be cool with Google, but there's another way to run Android apps on a Windows PC: BlueStacks virtualization software. AMD has announced that BlueStacks will be offered as an add-on for some AMD-powered machines at "select retailers."

The version of the software bundled with AMD PCs will include special optimizations for AMD processors, will support Windows 8.1, and will be based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. It will also enable a full Android OS to run within Windows, either in a window or in full-screen mode. As AMD points out, BlueStacks is compatible with "hundreds of thousands of Android apps direct from various Android app stores," allows syncing to mobile devices, can access the Windows file system, and supports system cameras and sensors. 

The first BlueStacks-equipped, AMD-powered PCs will hit stores in the second half of 2014. Customers will "have the choice of an AMD-BlueStacks upgrade when buying an AMD-based PC at select retailers," the chipmaker says. Interestingly, while AMD talks of "several key retail partners across EMEA" (that's short for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region), there's no mention of a similar deal in North America.

Not that you necessarily need to wait, of course. A free version of the BlueStacks App Player is available right now. That version doesn't give you a full Android OS to play with, though, and it's based on the older, Ice Cream Sandwich release of Android. It also lacks official Windows 8.1 support and special optimizations for AMD hardware.

In any event, bundling BlueStacks on mobile Windows systems seems like a good idea. Windows 8.1 may work well on tablets and convertibles, but its app repertoire somewhat pales in comparison to the competition's, and the average consumer probably isn't likely to download BlueStacks on his own.

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