I read a post a couple of weeks ago by a fellow member of a LinkedIN group who was asking “Can Android replace Windows on the Desktop?” (Thanks for posting Alex) to which I replied no. I was then asked the same question by a client last week which made me reassess my answer.
To fully answer the question I decided to have a look at what hardware was available at the moment. After a quick google search I came across the new HP Slate 21 Pro and the new Lenovo N308. The Lenovo is more home orientated while the HP is aimed straight at the business user. Looking at these two offerings I am beginning to understand why people (and maybe small businesses) might be taking the Android on the desktop seriously.
Android is king (at the moment) of the smartphone wars. It is very intuitive to use and you can get an app for almost anything through Google Play. In the home people are switching from the more traditional laptop and PC to tablets and smartphones and most of these run Android. It would not be a huge leap to start running an Android PC in the workplace as chances are the user would be already familiar with the interface. Bring Your Own device (BYOD) is alive and well in the business world so a user wanting to work on an Android device is a real possibility.
Now it does all depend on what you do on a daily basis. If you spend most of your time using web based applications and emails then an Android device could well be the device of choice (or even a Chromebook?), however if you spend all day using Microsoft Office to produce documents and spreadsheets then maybe Android wont do (Office wont run on Android for example). There are alternatives like Office 365 which is web based and Kingsoft Office which can produce documents just fine but they aren’t “traditional Office” and to some people that is all that matters.
Then there is the little matter of printing. Printing from a laptop or PC is a doddle but on an Android device it can be a bit cumbersome. Saying that HP have a cracking app called HP ePrint which allows you to print to any HP wireless printer but not all printer manufacturers provide Android printing support (please correct me if I am wrong).
Another thing to think about is the hold that Microsoft has at the moment in the business space. To the best of my knowledge Android and Active Directory are not the best of friends and don’t play nicely. You can administer Active Directory from an Android device but it doesn’t work the other way. If your IT infrastructure includes Active Directory then this might be a game stopper.
So what is the answer to the question “Is Android finally a viable alternative as a desktop OS?”
The answer is yes it is, however saying that it may not be the best OS for your current working environment.
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