PC OEMs Rebelling Against Microsoft?


That's what the headline claims, but the truth is a little more complicated than that:

Microsoft could find itself in a precarious position at the Consumer Electronics Show early next month in Las Vegas. That’s because a number of computer manufacturers are expected to unveil systems that can simultaneously run Windows and Google’s Android mobile platform according to two different analysts as reported by Computerworld.

Tentatively known as PC Plus, these machines will run Windows 8.1 as well as Android apps. Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies said the initiative would take place through software emulation and was being backed by Intel. He wasn’t sure what kind of performance could be expected but it is their way to try and bring more touch-based apps to the Windows ecosystem.

OEMs aren't dumping Microsoft Windows; they're just adding extra functionality of the Android variety -- assuming the report is correct. But I must admit to some confusion here.

The vast majority of Android apps are developed for phone-size screens. Even dedicated tablet apps are really only semi-dedicated -- they're simply resized to fit on bigger screens, rather than re-engineered to really make use of bigger screens.

I'm not sure how much functionality users will get from running apps designed for 5-inch screens, blown up for 8-inch screens, emulated on 13-inch screens. There's a huge WTF? factor there.

It looks to me like something of a desperation move by the OEMs, or maybe just spaghetti-against-the-wall. Windows 8.x hasn't exactly been a roaring success, in terms of getting people to use their PCs in new ways. Most folks aren't buying touch-enabled PCs, few of the people who do buy them aren't using the touch screens instead of their traditional mice, and as a result developers aren't doing much to develop touch apps. But touchscreen PCs have fatter margins, so OEMs have to try something to improve on their razor thin (or less) profit margins on traditional PCs.

So, hey, throw an Android emulator in there. Maybe that's what's going to restore Dell's and HP's rightful places in the world.

But I doubt it, for the reasons already mentioned.

We'll see more confused moves like this one as mobile devices continue to steal market share from traditional PCs.