The Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) operating system has been ported over to the x86 platform by a group of volunteer developers at Android-x86.org. Unlike previous versions of Android that were created for the ARM processor, a fully x86-compatible version of the Android operating system will work with processors made by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and AMD.
The port is still very much a work in progress, though support for basic capabilities such as Wi-Fi, multitouch and hardware graphics acceleration has been added. The port currently works with AMD's low-powered Brazos processor for netbooks and tablets. The source code is available for download as an ISO image here.
Though other important features such as sound, camera support, Ethernet and hardware acceleration for Intel's processors won't work at the moment, their eventual completion could conceivably see the Android operating system arriving on laptops and desktop workstations.
Of course, this is only speculation at this point, especially given the recent release of Android 4.0 by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) in October. Indeed, ARM-based devices running on ICS are only just starting to arrive on the scene. Regardless, the porting of ICS over to x86, coupled with the arrival of tablet-optimized Windows 8 in the latter half of 2012, points to an exciting year ahead for tablets and laptops.