There are an increasing number of ways to try out Android applications on your Windows desktop or laptop. But of the various methods I’ve sampled, none combined complete access to Android’s basic functions with ease-of-access quite like American Megatrends’ AMIDuOS.
Unlike a program like Bluestacks, which is all about getting specific app functionality on the desktop, AMIDuOS is a complete virtual machine of (mostly) stock Android, recreating the interface and experience of a full Android tablet. Combined with a Surface or similar Windows tablet, running AMIDuOS can more or less replicate the look and feel of a full Android tablet, including web access and optional Google apps including the Play Store. It’s a much better way to try out Android on high-powered hardware, though Bluestacks does handle individual apps more cohesively on a Windows desktop. Here’s how to get started with AMIDuOS.
Step One: Download and Install the Program
AMIDuOS is commercial software, so it’s hosted on the American Megatrends website. For the sake of this guide, we’ll try the Pro version of the software, based on Android 5.0—it’s free for a month of trial usage, after which it costs $15, or $10 for the older “lite” version based on Android 4.0.
Make sure you download the software in either 32 or 64-bit, as applies to your version of Windows. The installer is inside a zipped file, so you’ll need to extract it using Windows’ default tool or your third-party application of choice.
Double-click the DuOSInstaller.exe file in the extracted folder to start the installer process. Click “Done” in the window when it finishes.
Step Two (Optional): Install Google Apps
Once the installer finishes, it should open up a browser tab that gives you instructions on a secondary installation package, Google Apps. This additional installation allows you to use the Google Play Store to download applications directly to the Android virtual machine, among other Google apps like Search and Gmail.
Start up the DuOS program—it should be in your Start menu. while it runs in the background, Click the appropriate link for the version of AMIDuOS you downloaded. If you followed the instructions above, it will be the latest version available. Save the ZIP file, right-click it, and select “Apply to DuOS.” You’ll see a Windows notification that says “Updating DuOS.” Wait for the process to finish in the DuOS window.
Step Three: Configure the Virtual Machine
Press the Start button or key and type “DuOS.” Click “DuOS Configuration Tool.” This program lets you adjust the various parameters of the Android virtual machine. In particular, you’ll find:
- General: This screen offer the basic controls for the screen size, and manual options to share access to specific files and folders in Windows. Unless you need to use Android in a small-sized window instead of full screen or access specific files from the Android interface, you can ignore most of these options. The Full Screen option will let the Android interface cover the entire screen, with the power and minimize buttons next to the default Android navigation buttons at the bottom of the interface. The Normal Screen option adds a Windows menu button at the top of the screen with close, minimize, and rotate buttons. The Small Screen option is the same, only with a scaled window.
- Advanced: this screen allows the user to expand the amount of RAM shared with the Android VM. I recommend at least 2GB (2000 MB), assuming you can spare it from the rest of your system—you shouldn’t use more than half of your system’s memory for the virtual machine. The Moderate Resolution allows you to let Windows instead of the VM set the visual scaling, and “Manual DPI” lets you adjust the virtual size of the VM’s screen. “FPS” will show a frames per second count in the window. “Simulated Network” lets the VM use your main computer’s Internet connection—you’ll generally want to leave it enabled.
- Devices: This page allows the VM to access the Camera, Gamepad, GPS, and Serial Port of your main PC (if it has them). Note the “camera swap” option on the first tab: it can swap the front and rear camera inputs on tablets like the Surface.
- Logs: This option lets you access the logs from Android’s system.
- Properties: Allows the user to change the name and IMEI of the virtual device, which can be handy for services that detect them, like the Play Store.
Click Apply when you’re done.
Step Four: Start Using DuOS
From here, you can start the program just like any other. If you’ve installed Google Apps in Step Two, you’ll start with a setup process including logging into your Google account. Just follow the on-screen instructions.
At any time, you can click the minimize button or press Alt+Tab on your keyboard to get back to Windows. Most Android apps should run fine in the AMIDuOS interface, though hardware-intensive applications will be sluggish. It’s a great way to try out apps in a larger interface.