EVER LONGED to be able to run Windows applications like Excel on your Android phone? Well long no, er, longer. As with so many things, the answer is Wine.
Since 1993, the open source compatibility layer Wine has been a mainstay of Linux and macOS desktop users, allowing them to deploy applications built for Microsoft's ubiquitous OS without having to install the dreaded 'doze itself.
The newly-released Wine 3.0 includes graphics drivers that extend this functionality to Android.
"Wine can be built as an APK package and behaves like a proper Android Application," explains developer CodeWeavers in an announcement.
Full graphics and audio drivers are implemented, it adds, with the caveat that "because of restrictions of the Android window management API, only full-screen desktop mode is supported".
Indeed the Android implementation is very much a work in progress with the Direct3D graphics API unsupported as yet, and with limitations, to the use of the OpenGL API, the number of Windows games you'll be able to play on your Galaxy or Chromebook is likely to be underwhelming.
The default Windows kernel setting for Wine 3.0 is set to Windows 7 so Win 10-only programs will most likely refuse to work without some serious tinkering.
Initial tests by AndroidPolice reveals the port to be functional, if somewhat buggy, working better on some phones than others. ARM-based phones are not best served yet as they are limited to apps that work on Windows RT, and there ain't many of those.
Anyway, allowing Windows programs to run on Android is all very well, but given the huge number of apps available for that OS, it's unclear what they can really bring to the Android party. Nevertheless, as well as those who lament the demise of Windows Mobile, there are always those who enjoy life on the bleedin' edge, and if you're one of them you can download the Wine 3.0 installers for Android x86 and ARM from the Wine website.
For desktop users, the new Wine list includes Direct3D 10 and 11 support, a multi-threaded Direct3D command stream and improved DirectWrite and Direct2D support promising better rendering, along with improved compatibility with a wider range of graphics cards. μ
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