Bluestacks is a virtualization layer that runs on Windows PCs and allows users to run Android apps. Rather than run a full Android emulator, including the UI, Bluestacks provides enough of the Android OS to run most apps as if they were native Windows apps.
Bluestacks is in alpha, meaning that there are bugs and performance issues. For example, the UI seems laggy at times, and the default full-screen window is not particularly user-friendly. With that said, it does work remarkably well. I only ran into a couple of apps that wouldn't run because they require an ARM processor on their package. Otherwise, I ran free and purchased apps.
Be aware that installing Bluestacks can be difficult. You may need to disable UAC and anti-virus. It may take a few tries to get going. It's alpha--they are working on it.
A few things didn't work, such as screen rotation, and the sound was scratchy, but it is still pretty remarkable.
It will only run in full-screen mode at this time. Bluestacks really does need to make this windowed, as full-screen desktop widgets are non-starters. But it's alpha, and the suggestion--from others, not me--is under consideration by the company.
If you want to run Android apps--and, truth be told, I don't have a compelling reason yet to do so--Bluestacks is a much better option than running an emulator or Android-x86 in VMware Workstation. Be sure to search for answers to problems on the community support site. More experienced users and Bluestacks staff are quite helpful.
Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio