Earlier this week in Brussels, Alexandre Julliard, the original developer behind the WINE project, showed off a port of WINE for Android. If you’ve never delved into the cold, lonely world of Linux, you probably have never come across WINE. For those of you who don’t know, WINE is a neat piece of software that allows you to run Windows applications on platforms that aren’t Windows. How it does this, I’m not entirely sure. Something to do with APIs, with probably a little witchcraft thrown in.
WINE stands for WINE is not an emulator. Those silly rascals in the open-source community love their recursive acronyms, but it’s an important thing to note. Because it isn’t emulating anything, WINE means that applications can run at near-native performance, but the applications that can run are limited to those that support your device’s architecture. In the case of most Android devices, this is ARM. There are very few Windows desktop applications that are compiled for ARM, but one of the more notable would be Microsoft Office 2013.
The preview that was shown was said to be quite slow and buggy, but a lot of this was attributed to being run in an Android emulator, rather than natively on a device. Obviously, a lot more work will be needed to bring this to a point where it would be useable, but WINE on Android will be awesome. If Intel’s x86-based Android devices actually take off, it will be extra awesome, because we would then be able to run all our traditional Windows desktop applications (including Steam) on our x86 Android tablets. We’ll just have to see how this develops.