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Get your Android apps back with BlueStacks for Windows 8

Surface Pro

There is and has been elephant in the room among Windows Phone and Windows 8 users, the app gap. I’m not talking about numbers here, but the difference in high quality apps. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of kickass applications, but if you’re a startup and you’re developing an app – it’s aimed at iOS or Android first. That’s ok, things will change as both Windows 8 and Windows Phone gain market share and mindshare. However until then you might not get to try out the latest fadapp (an app that’s a fad – like Words with Friends or Snapchat).

So what’s a tech nerd to do? Well, if you’ve got a Surface Pro, you can run some Android apps using BlueStacks software. Read on to find out how.

Last time we heard from BlueStacks they were working on a partnership with AMD, since then they’ve been busy working on their Windows 8 application and optimizing it for the Surface Pro. A quick primer for those that aren’t picking up on what’s going on here. BlueStacks is a Windows program that allows users to run Android apps and games on their PC. The software first came out in alpha form back in October 2011, so at the time the focus was on Windows 7. The company has been busy ever since, developing a Mac desktop app and getting an undisclosed investment from Qualcomm. Now the team has updated their software for Windows 8, optimizing the experience for a device like the Surface Pro. What’s new?

BlueStacks for Windows 8

The latest version includes their special Charms menu that they’ve been able to integrate with Windows 8. BlueStacks was also able to overcome some hurdles they had in the past. For example, BlueStacks is able to tell the orientation of the tablet and relay that information to the Android environment, making the overall experience feel a little more native.

They said they’ve optimized for the Surface Pro, but we don’t have one just yet to play with (stupid supply chain). In the meantime we’ll fire it up on our Intel-based Acer device and let you know about performance for Windows 8 in general.

The company is also running a small campaign to educate users about their software. It’s called “Get Your Apps Back” and is aimed at letting users bring over their Android apps when they pick up a Windows 8 device. Here is the video they plan on running:

You can download their latest Windows 8 software by heading on over here.

What do you guys think? Is this some software you’d be interested to try out the latest Android only app?

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Reader comments

Get your Android apps back with BlueStacks for Windows 8

81 Comments

I would love a RT version but i am not sure that MS would approve it for the Windows Store. If they did I would gladly pay for the app.

Why buy a device that only allows you to run what they say you can run, when there are other options?  Ugh.  I'm no open-source fanatic but that just seems shortsighted.  You folks really want to let some corporate bureaucrats decide what you can and can't do with the computer you paid for?  RT is toxic for this reason and should be shunned accordingly.

I'll agree with that.  I strongly hope MS lifts restrictions on RT.  Developers should be able to tap into the desktop Win32 API's and consumers should have a way to load and execute programs outside the windows store, both for RT and Desktop.  They will claim security, but MS could easily figure out a method whereby average consumers can leave their device locked and not have to worry about malicious code executing on their device. 
Its funny, I have a Surface RT and I like to develop WinRT and WP8 apps on the side.  I can test my WP apps on my phone, but there is no way that I know of to test my WinRT apps on my Surface RT.  You can call it blind, but I do have faith that MS will improve this situation.

I realize this is a late post, but with Visual Studio 2012, you can install the Remote Debugging tools on your Surface RT and then you can do a "Remote Deploy" to your Surface from Visual Studio as long as you are connected to the same network.

You mean like apple does too with the who can decide...? Also, if you want to jailbreak pretty sure there was a way to do it....

Oh sorry, I forgot - the Apple way is undoubtedly the right way!  (The new Microsoft modus operandi.)

Tried this on win 7 last year and it choked out an i7 with 8gb ram. Don't see this running smoothly on RT.

Funny how an Android emulator shows up on an x86 platform before an ARM platform, where the code can probably run natively with fewer instruction translations

Oh come on. Android is completely cross-platform and can run natively on Intel and ARM processors. The apps run on Dalvik VM, which is also entirely cross-platform and doesn't depend on architecture because Dalvik translates raw compiled Dalvik code into processor instructions. No instructions need to be translated from architecture to architecture in this.

Is this a MUI app or Desktop App? Or what Charmbar is meant here? cant see the video atm. If its a MUI app should it not run easyly on WP8

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AND ALL THAT IS HOLY - PLEASE OH PLEASE RELEASE THIS FOR WINDOWS RT - I WOULD PAY 20$+ FOR THIS APP - AND I AM POSITIVE THAT AT LEAST 1/2 OF THE OTHER MILLION SURFACE RT USERS WOULD DO THE SAME, SO YOU WOULD BE LOOKING AT 10,000,000$ IN YOUR POCKET BLUESTACKS.....THROW US EARLY ADOPTERS A BONE PLEASE!!!!!

I think the bigger assumption is that there will ever be half a million RT users.  With Haswell coming down the pike, RT has no reason to exist.

Most tech bloggers and "analysts" seem to think ARM is a greater threat to Intel. I agree with you that its the other way round. Intel doesn't have to beat ARM on battery. All they need to do is attain fanless and all day (8-10hr) battery life with their main crop of processors (Atom need not apply). If Haswell doesn't accomplish exactly that, it will at least get them very very close. By the time Broadwell comes out, I'll bet Intel will begin its serious push into phones. So I must wonder if MS wasted its time and resources porting Windows to ARM this late in the game. Oh well, with AMD floundering its good that Intel has some competition from ARM.

I emailed the well-known Steve Gibson about this about a year ago; is ARM really the future or just an interim solution to get Intel off their ass? I kind of regret having an ARM machine because I'm sure by the time the next major change to Windows RT occurs, Intel will have developed an all-round better chip, making RT a little useless.

Ship, not sell... For all we know 3/4 of those devices are gathering dust on store shelves and in warehouses.

Its a little less than that I think but they did sell over 500k. They manufactured considerably more from what I read so your point still stands. 

Just because they're sold doesn't mean people are really using them.  My guess is, most of the Surface RTs sold are already gathering dust or will be soon.  Because they are crap.  Sorry, but they are.  If you bought one and disagree, I recommend you look up Stockholm Syndrome.  That said, Windows 8 is a mixed bag, but has a lot to recommend it.  Haswell will double battery life over Ivy Bridge -- that gets you your "all day computing" right there.  W8 is the future.  WinRT is a Trojan horse designed to get Intel off their duffs.

They are not crap. I use my surface rt everyday. I love the batery life. Don't need to drag a charger around to play a game, watch a movie, type a document, listen to music, surf web aka Facebook. It does everything I do.is ultra portable. Looks cool I get people asking non stop. The dumb ones think its apple!! Just cause you don't use yours doesn't mean others don't. If you don't use yours, next time research a product before you buy it to know its limitations!!!!!

Thanks for that! Dislike ignorant sweeping comments! I actually used an x86 "open" tablet for a year, prior to the General Availability of Win8, and while nice in certain instances, I couldn't wait for the Surface RT, which suits MY needs perfectly!

I went to 4 Bestbuys locations and 3 Staples in and around Columbus Ohio and all these stores except one have sold out all RT and the few Surface Pro they received. I wanted to buy 2 RTs and 128gb Pro for some of our pastors but I couldn't find them in stock of the store I visited so I ended up ordering online. Surface Rt is definitely not enjoying the attention and sales numbers like the Ipad but believe or not they are not collecting dust on the shelves.

I disagree - unless these "Haswell" tablets are selling for 500$, there is a market for ARM - i would almost bet my entire life savings that the Haswell chips will not be even close to the price as an ARM tablet.  I personally didnt want to spend 1100$ on the PRO version which can barely run my productivity software - I will instead invest in a new desktop that can run everything, and without limitation - then, I can remote into my desktop, with my RT using remote desktop.

Doesn't that tell you everything you need to know right there about the store/app paradigm? Hooray for the ability to censor content. 

I'd be very interested to hear its performance on your Intel Atom tablet - Acer Iconia w510. Particularly how some of the heavier graphical apps might play (such as N.O.V.A. et al). This could really help sway my decision on pulling the trigger on a current Win 8 Intel Atom tablet. I don't really need the horsepower of the Intel Core CPU but it would be nice to play some of the cooler games available for Android. One question, how/can you purchase apps to use? From within Bluestacks? Does it give you access to Google Play Store?

I believe you purchase apps the same way you do on a Android phone. At least that's how it was in the Bluestacks iteration for windows 7.

When you search for an app, it will allow you to download from the Google Play Store, as well as Amazon store. I have yet to purchase an app through BlueStacks, so not sure of that.  

Get the Bluestacks Cloud Connect app from the Google Playstore & sync your apps from your phone to whatever computer you have the BS program installed on. In the computer app, go into Settings to open the cloud sync function.
Depending on how many apps you want to send & your connection speeds, it can take a few minutes - but it does work.

Can you imagine how that would turn the WP8 market upside down.  You would effectively level the playing field if you could run Android apps on WP8!

And yet have all of the UI problems of Android apps.  Don't get me wrong, I want the app gap closed damn it.  But not at this expense.  The UI is horrible.  App experiences are horrible when compared to Win8/WP8.

While their may not be performance issues with an core device, the atom deviced will struggle with the app player, and of course you still have the upcoming marriage of Windows RT and Windows Phone, which will mean native Windows apps will work on all Windows 8-based OS'
Also, BlueStacks does not seem to support the on-screen keyboard or pen input.  

That's what I was thinking as well.  But I was under the impression that you would have already had to purchase the Android apps (via some Android device) in order to use this; if so, this would only benefit Android users.
 
Anyway, not sure if Microsoft do anything about it, but if they can, they better act fast because some developers may decide NOT to develop for Windows 8 if this 'proxy' turns out to be successful.
 
I think Google funded this project :)

As an Android and iOS developer I can tell you that there is "basically no point in developers making native Windows apps" today as is.  BlueStacks will allow developers to write for the larger platforms and will allow consumers to purchase Windows devices without fear or worry of missing apps they rely on.  In the end this will help increase Windows market share which will give developers a reason to develop native Windows apps for a better and more seamless experience to their users.

You're contradicting yourself, devs will just stuck to writing android apps and not bother with Windows apps regardless of market share.

How am I contradicting myself?  Once Windows becomes more popular it makes more sense for a developer to spend the time and money to port/re-write for Windows in order to increase the user experience for their apps.  It's not in my companies best interest to write apps for Windows RT/Phone8 right now since the number of users are so low compared to Android and iOS. (We don't have the resources of companies like Facebook or Instagram, etc)  It is however nice to know that the smaller number of Windows users will be able to use our apps even if it's a little less seamless (Meaning you have to install BlueStacks and manage the app from within it) and the performance is degraded.  Once Windows has more users, it will make sense for us to provide native apps since people will be less likely to "make do" with non-native apps. 
Trust me, users are quick to complain when apps aren't available natively on their preferred platform.  Developers will follow when the number of those users that complain grow to a point where it makes sense to provide a native app.

You're company is going nowhere by relying on an emulator for a platform.  An emulator that does not come as default on the device.  The majority of your 'customers' simply will never download this emulator and install it; a fraction of those in the know will and maybe download your app - so you limit the exposure of your application evenmoreso. 
Any 3rd party requirement that doesnt come installed as default isn't a threat to the main ecosystem; as real developers know that targeting specfiic platforms with the least amount of resistance to their customers is the best way to reach their audience.
 
Windows 8 at 30 million copies a month sold will easily have close to 400 million users within a SINGLE year. 

Sorry, but you are contradicting yourself. If you take that approach, then you'd never get around to developing an app for Win8/WP8. With Native Code capabilities in WP8, it's even easier to port apps to WP8. However, if you are talking about the time it would take to follow the Metro Design Guide for WP, then sure, I can empathize with that.

Plus, don't discount the fact that there is finally code sharing between Windows and Windows Phone. So developing an app for one is most of the hard work.

Sure...
Like when OS/2 ran windows 3.1 apps fully compatible and even better than windows did.
That really made people to go and create OS/2 apps. That's why we are all using OS/2 today instead of Windows....
Learn from history or you are doomed to repeat it!

this can only hurt Windows.
Google be making money off Windows (purchasing via BlueStacks) this will open up a can of worms for law suits
It will also hurt app recognition, that commercial shows Angry Birds and a few apps already on Windows. You know there will be ppl who won't even bother with the Windows version because ppl tend to be creatures of habit.

This could be fascinating if Android apps become the reference for both Windows and Blackberry. I doubt it'll happen in the case of Windows, but devs obviously have limited time and resources. The biggest effect might be higher-quality Android apps if devs realize their audience just exploded in size. 

Nope, says it's incompatible with BlueStacks. Maybe there's a way to sideload it?
 
EDIT: Yes, you CAN sideload instagram and it looks like you can upload pics to it too. Get the APK and double click to install directly to BlueStacks.

I just recently switch from Android (Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1) to Windows 8 Pro (Acer Icona W510) and so far, I am loving it. I haven't yet tried bluestacks on it because I like to keep my systems clean. Before I install bluestacks on my iconia, i'd like to know:
is there some way to get my purchased apps back? I know I can probably get the ones I purchased on amazon marketplace (since I can easily install the apk for that marketplace). But what about Google Play? Amazon has not been available in Germany until about half a year ago, so most of my purchases are made in Google Play. Is there some way to install and use Google Play in bluestacks?

I haven't had a chance to try it on a Windows tablet as of yet, but I did just download it for my Mac. (I will try Windows 8 desktop later today).  The mac desktop version (And I'd assume the Tablet version) comes with the Amazon app store pre-installed.  They also have an app called "App Search" which searches 4 app stores including Amazon and the Play Store.  I'm not to the point where I would trust this program/company with my Android/Google account, but once you click on an app that exists in the play store it asks you to add a Google Account.  I can't speak to the experience beyond that.

Well, looks like bluestacks doesn't like me, then. Just downloaded and installed the latest version on my Windows 8 PC. While "App Search" actually finds apps from google play, it skips google play when I try to select "install".

There is an app at the Playstore called "Bluestacks Cloud Connect" that will sync the apps on your phone to the BS app on your computer.  Just be careful to check off the apps on your phone that you want to sync or else the phone will transfer copies of ALL of them.  Depending on how many apps need to get synced, it can take a few minutes.
BS is in beta, and sometimes is a little slow to respond, but it does work well w/ Windows 7 and 8.  Great on my Samsung slate PC w/ Windows 8 Pro (touchscreen + 4 GB ram) & love the larger screen for playing Angry Birds, etc.
So yes, Google Playstore does work.

Just log into your google account through bluestacks and it has all your info. Purchasing is just like using an android device via bluestacks. Very easy.

Yeah... I've tried a number of times to run this on my laptop (2009 Dell Inspiron) it says I need a better graphics card

Microsoft needs to buy into BlueStacks and preload it to every Windows 8 Pro Tablet as a Software the user can select to install.
Mr. Ballmer do you read me? Stop making prisoners! Google will eat you if you don't eat em!

Guys, no, just no. Bluestacks is only an emulation so it's not going to run very smoothly. I would wait for the guys making the native windows andriod software so you can NATIVALY run the whole ANDRIOD sytems instead of slow EMULATION.

just tried it on my HP laptop and i had to ctrl alt delete my way out. I hope the developer fixes this because I would love to run Squareup on my Surface pro.

So now Windows 8 Pro can run all x86 programs, all windows store (metro) apps, and all android apps... talk about a powerful platform.. gee 

already running all desktop and modern apps i need on my windows 8 Prox64, i have no interest in android

And yet you still have the horrible user experience that is Android (when compared to Win8 and WP8.)  I tried it, and no thank you.  I'd rather use a web browser to access an "app" than deal with this emulator just to run Android apps.

Android's useless.  This is dumb.  Only android apps I miss are those that control the system in ornate detail.  N/A on Windows.  This is dumb.  Saco!

I don't really see what's different in this version from the win7 version.
specially when it doesn't support touch and you have to you the pen and multi fingers doesn't work
 
 
specia

The ARM system has a limited API thatd probably make it impossible to do an Android emu.

Maybe I'm an idiot but I have it in my download file but it won't open. Don't know if Norton blocked the install or not yet. Is this a possibility? I think I am an idiot.

Installation was quite slow here on 7 (dual 1.5ghz 2GB laptop-around 2007, integrated rubbish graphics) but it worked ok. It should run the same on 8, since the official site claims it does, although I havent tried it yet. Perhaps it has issues on 64 bit systems, but I imagine if it runs on 64 bit win7, it should be ok. I was sure I installed 'Bluestacks lite', around 8mb.
Bluestacks only runs certain kinds of files, so most full programs (ie complex games) dont run at all yet. I only wanted bluestacks so I could register on instagram (you cant register on instagram without an android phone). I use pokki instagrille on the pc to view it. Bluestacks may also be needed to upload images, although I havent tried it yet.
Worst thing about bluestacks-slow to start, resource hog, and the 'bluestacks android service' starts up whether bluestacks is disabled or not from doing so via 'msconfig>Startup'. Not bad though, does what I need it to, and should get better in time. I cant remember if there was any nasty adware (some claim 'sweetpacks' and an unwanted search engine on cnet-so double check everything as you go through its installation).