Can x86 Windows Devices Run Android? What are the Benefits?

Keith Szot

October 12, 2019

Wintel has dominated the purpose-built device fleet market for decades. For over 20 years, the combination of Windows Embedded or Windows CE was used to build specialized vertical market devices. This made sense when there was a rich supply of x86-based hardware and Microsoft’s innovation and progress on the OS.

The Downfall Of Windows x86

In the past few years, the industry has been roiled by Microsoft regularly ending updates for Windows Embedded and Windows CE. This means no more security patches for these aging operating systems resulting in putting them at severe risk of hacking. It shows that Microsoft is transitioning from an operating system-driven company to a Cloud and App company.

The announcement that Microsoft will be shipping Android-based devices means that, there is a risk in continuing to be on Microsoft for purpose-built device operating system software. To be clear, they are no longer in the game. However, Android is clearly the present and future operating system for purpose-build device fleets.

“This puts enterprises with Windows-based x86 devices running critical manufacturing processes, conducting sensitive payment transactions, and holding private consumer data in a tough spot. Android is the right way to go, and any new additions to device fleets should run it.”

The Opportunity For x86 On Android

Enterprises have millions of dollars invested in x86 hardware delivering on their purpose-built tasks. Yet, Android driven by the smartphone market was created for the ARM architecture and not x86. Alternative appears to be rip and replace bringing all the complexities of business disruption that will go along with it. So, is it true that you can’t run Android on x86? Let’s unpack that possibility with Esper

Esper is all about Android for purpose-built device fleets. Our solution gives enterprises the opportunity to harvest their sunk hardware spends with an innovative approach – Android on x86. How you ask?

We have built our own version of Android called Esper Enhanced Android (EEA) off of AOSP. It originated because in many cases our customers need tighter control over the ROM image (like not including data sucking apps baked into the firmware of consumer tablets), higher security in the kernel, and the ability to take control of updates and patches and not be at the whim of the device maker running late on passing through critical updates from Google and/or those updates pushed at inopportune times for the customer. We’ve addressed these pain points and more with EEA.

Features Of Esper Enhanced Android Devices 

  • Highly Configurable – Modify Esper Enhanced Android tailored to your specific requirements and use cases, be it retail kiosks, digital signage, and more. 
  • Simple and Easy – Devices shipped after set up and will be ready to run with Esper. All you have to do is turn them on and manage app and device remotely. 
  • Increased Security – Built on hardened kernel with firmware matched to the device. In case your device is stolen, factory reset can be accessed only through Esper console. 
  • Easy operations – Esper console is so simple to use that it is applicable to a wide range of IT resources.   

How Esper Can help Your x86 Run On Android

Now, we have the opportunity to bring EEA on x86 with Esper. We’ve done it for a customer essentially turning thousands of throw-away Windows CE devices into a continuing productive hardware asset. The beauty of this approach is that the customer already built their app set for Android, delivering it on new hardware. Thus they had what they needed, it only required Android to replace Windows CE on this particular x86 device.

It takes deep knowledge of Android to commercially support x86 on behalf of vertical market customers, rest assured, we have the expertise here. Our CEO was the architect of Windows CE and led the Fire OS team – that sets the bar at Esper. 

Keith Szot founded and led the tiger team at Microsoft that drove Windows CE into its initial vertical markets of Industrial Automation and Retail Point of Sale. Today, he is helping all types of customers to apply Android on purpose-built device fleets with Esper’s full-stack platform.

While you can plop Android on x86, taking advantage of the x86 hardware requires the right implementation from the right team. So if you are stuck with your Windows-based x86 purpose-built device fleet installed base, Esper can help you make the transition to Android by leveraging your existing hardware assets and smartly adding in native ARM-based Android devices to your fleet. To talk to us, get in touch with us at