Quick guide for running Android applications and games on Windows 8.1 tablet or PC

Android.jpg

If you want to run Android on your W8.1 tablet or PC for fun or development, there are several options to try. So here they are:

All things shown in this tutorial should work on Windows 7 too.

Official Android Emulator (based on QEMU) #

Provided by Google. Free.

Pros:

Cons:

Genymotion #

Provided by Genymobile. Free for personal use.

Pros:

Cons:

Android x86/Android IA #

Open source.

Pros:

Cons:

Windroy #

Provided by socketeq. Free.

Pros:

Cons:

BlueStacks App Player #

Provided by BlueStacks. Free.

Pros:

Cons:


As you can see there is no perfect option here. Genymotion is really good but you need to play with it to get Play Store and ARM apps to run. Windroy is really buggy, and needs a lot of work to become a viable option. Official Android emulator is painfully slow in any flavour. So that leaves us with BlueStacks. For the purpose of this tutorial we will use BlueStacks since at the moment it is, in my opinion, the best way to run Android on a Windows 7/8 machine.

We will consider three options.

Option 1 - Stock BlueStacks #

No real drama here. Go to Bluestacks website, download the installer and you’re good to go. However, if you are annoyed by bloatware, or need access to root, or want a more “simply Android” experience, you will need to consider options 2 and 3

Option 2 - FreeStacks (the easy way) #

I only found about FreeStacks a couple of weeks ago. The idea is you get only stock Android with stock Android launcher and root access, Google apps and nothing more. The installer is really simple too. FreeStacks is maintained by Facebook group (I know, right), and updates are usually a couple of days behind official BlueStacks updates but they are always there. The emulator is very fast, and runs almost all apps from Play Store faultlessly. Even 3D apps worked very nice with high FPS on my 5 year old laptop (Core 2 Duo, nVidia 9700GTS) and also on my Toshiba Encore WT8. It scored just shy of 24000 on AnTuTu.

Android2.jpg

FreeStacks is by far the easiest way to run Android on your PC, and I recommend it with a great thanks to FreeStacks community. There are a couple of options that need to be set up before using BlueStacks in general, but more on that later.

You can find the latest version (at the moment of writing) here.

Be careful when downloading files from the Internet, and always check them with your antivirus.

FreeStacks Facebook group can be found here.

Option 3 - DIY Rooted BlueStacks #

If you prefer to do everything yourself or just want something special with your emulator you can use this BlueStacks tool. It’s fairly straight forward. Download official BlueStacks, install it, install a custom launcher, and follow the instructions provided with the tool. In the end you end up with something similar to Freestacks but there are much more things you can change (You can disable root, keep BlueStacks apps, etc.).

Configuring BlueStacks #

So you installed BlueStacks, downloaded your favourite apps and everything is working great. It’s just that the default resolution of 1024x600 doesn’t look that great on your 4k display… So let’s address that (and more).

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\BlueStacks\Guests\Android

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\BlueStacks\Guests\Android\FrameBuffer\0

Configure BlueStacks for tablet use #

If you followed this tutorial to install and run BlueStacks on your Windows 8.1 tablet you probably noticed there is something really wrong with screen orientation. Luckily there is an easy fix for this.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\BlueStacks\Guests\Android\FrameBuffer\0

EmulatePortraitMode

If you do this fix correctly, BlueStacks will work correctly in both portrait and landscape mode.


 
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