3 tools for running Android on your Windows PC

Here's how to get the best of two operating systems on one PC

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Wish you could run Android or its apps on your Windows PC? I've got three ways you can do it, one to run Android apps inside Windows, and two to install the entire Android operating system on your Windows PC.

BlueStacks

If you're interested only in running Android apps on your Windows machine, this is the way to go. Of the three options I review in this blog post, it's by far the simplest and cleanest. Rather than installing the entire Android OS on your PC, it lets you run Android apps in their own separate windows, as if they were Windows desktop apps. You'll even be able to install apps directly from Google Play. And if you've got a Mac, you're also in luck, because it lets Macs run Android apps as well.

Android on Intel Architecture

This lets you install the entire Android operating system on a Windows PC, with the option of either overwriting Windows altogether, or using a dual-boot Android-Windows option. Some words of warning here: This is not for the faint of heart or for non-techies. It's still a work in progress, and won't work with all hardware. With all those caveats, if you're still interested, download it here.

Android-x86 on VirtualBox

This one requires a two-step process: First install VirtualBox, which lets you run a variety of operating systems inside Windows, and then run Android-x86 as a virtual machine inside it. That way, you can run the entire Android OS inside a virtual machine on Windows, or on a Mac or Linux, for that matter. Keep in mind that if you haven't used VirtualBox before, it requires a fair amount of fiddling and diddling before you get it right. But it's worth it. If you're feeling extremely brave, you can instead install Android-x86 directly on your Windows machine, but it's not something I'd want to try.

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