back to article Lenovo to offer Android PCs, starting with an all-in-one that can pack a Core i9

Lenovo has entered the Android PC business. The Chinese manufacturer that took over IBM's PC business announced on Thursday that it's teamed with an outfit named Esper that specializes in custom cuts of Android, plus device management offerings. Android is most commonly used in handheld devices. Lenovo's taking it in an …

  1. Vader

    they have been saying the Linux desktop since the 90's. At that time it was still very geeky. Don't know how I don't use Linux much.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      "They" never had a clue.

      Linux was never really suited for the desktop, mostly because it just doesn't run popular Windows software. This was always the case. People at home don't want to have to break out emulation tools and suffer incompatibilities just to open a Word doc. What killed it though is that people at home would associate "desktop" with "gaming machine", even back then (Warcraft, etc.). If you can't run games, is it still a home desktop?

      The situation has evolved over the 25+ years I've been watching it. In that time, I've run Linux as my primary desktop for over a decade at a time at points. Even while managing Windows networks for a living. Of course it's viable. Always was. Just so long as you didn't expect to run the latest game or faddy videoconferencing program on it.

      But the fact is that every market where there wasn't that expectation - of computer-doughnuts being able to do the most difficult of things to run the simplest of programs that really weren't suitable for the OS anyway - Linux walked in and owned the joint. Datacentre. Server. Embedded. Smartphone.

      Now we're seeing Microsoft people MOVE AWAY from Microsoft-only things to the web... and Linux is creeping straight in to fill the gap. Schools are deploying millions of Chromebooks. Because if all you need is Chrome now to "run Office", then they're far cheaper, easier to manage and easier to lockdown (I know, I work in schools). Increasingly that "at home" laptop which granny just uses for browsing eBay for knitting patterns is becoming a Chromebook or even an Android tablet. Hell, I know of a school where they have ChromeOS Flex on the desktops and Chromebooks for the staff / kids. They don't need anything else any more. For work desktops, it's there and being used.

      "They've" been saying the Linux desktop since the 90's because... I've been running a Linux desktop since the 90's just like them.

      And now? Now I have a Steam Deck. Literally just Linux, running AAA Windows games on Steam on day of release at full whack, and sometimes better than Windows can run them natively. It's only possible because the emulation layers have improved enormously and standards like Vulkan have given a common base on which to implement things like DirectX -> Vulkan conversion layers. Valve invested HEAVILY in terms of time, money, people and effort to make that happen, along with the Proton people basically performing miracles (and, most importantly, they aren't done yet and still keep working on it).

      Increasingly the x86-Windows-only thing is dying. Even Microsoft's own offerings are moving away from that. They want you to have Office on your iPad, so they can sell you Office. It took 30 years but common sense is starting to prevail again.

      And now you can have a Linux desktop any time you like, for most people. A Linux *gaming* machine, okay you have to be careful but there are several viable options out there. But a desktop? For work and hobby and general use? Yeah, it's there. Use it.

      I can plug my Samsung phone into any HDMI cable (or adaptor with HDMI), plug or connect in a mouse and keyboard (I have bluetooth models of both), and I basically get a "Chromebook" with all my Android apps to boot. Samsung DeX. I've used it to do all sorts of stuff. I literally have a Linux desktop in my phone. And - apart from gaming - I could do my job on that, and all my home browsing and other needs. And with the Steam Deck, gaming isn't an issue either. 1/3rd of my games are "officially" supported, including some new releases out of the box, and I can coax 80% of the rest into working with only minor tweaks.

      Fact is that 95% of everything I do on my Windows laptop (bought for VR gaming), I could do on Linux already. Video editing I use Shotcut. Media I have Plex. Almost everything else is open-source or in the browser. It was only gaming that made me go Windows, and VR gaming at that (a particular weakness because even SteamVR struggles to match features on Linux and Windows, but it's fast catching up). If I was to leave that laptop only for Windows gaming, and had funds or felt the need for a different machine for daily life (I've left it on Windows 10, for example)... Linux would be my go-to.

      And I can count the number of people I know with a full VR setup on my elbows. Me. That's it. Everyone else, if they have VR at all, has the ones where they have a tablet inside the headset (and that's almost universally running some kind of Linux).

      Next time granny breaks her machine or only has an old clunker and wants to upgrade... stick ChromeOS Flex on it for her. It's free. She can do basically everything she needs on that, and it takes away so much legacy computing that it will make her life so much simpler. And that computer that was slowly falling over will have a new lease of life. If it doesn't work? So what. She had to buy a new machine anyway. But whenever I've done that for people, they find themselves using it for years more - whether alongside a new PC as a convenient Chromebook-like machine, or not even bothering to upgrade at all and just staying with it.

      "They" were only ever wrong about public take-up. That's what we really mean. Are the public going to run a Linux desktop? And increasingly they are and don't even realise, while their satnav, mobile phone, and all the things that power their web-based services are Linux already anyway. They don't even know.

      But you've been able to use (not just "run", but actually use) a Linux desktop for the best part of 2 decades, minimum. My university in 1997 had dual-boot Linux and NT desktops, and you could do everything you needed to in either. I was a maths student and I used Linux more than anyone else even back then.

      I honestly judge IT guys who apply to work with me, or those I deal with professionally, who are still parroting things from the 90's that weren't even true back then, and they haven't bothered to update their information since. Telling me that you haven't even TRIED a Linux desktop in 20+ years of working in IT is like the other classic - implying that open-source software is somehow insecure because "everyone can hack it". Both those things show me a level of ignorance outside of everything MCSA that worries me about your ability to adapt and learn and understand other things.

      Last guy I hired as an entirely untrained IT apprentice, I selected the young kid who'd run Linux at home and had a bunch of valid, up-to-date rationale for why he didn't like to use it as a desktop. He'd tried, learned, identified, and rationalised. We worked together through his whole career. He's an IT manager now, and puts all his peers to shame, not to mention MSPs and other outside entities who he has to deal with. And he has several Linux desktops.

      Boot up ChromeOS Flex. Buy a Steam Deck. Or, better yet, just install Linux on your machine. It's literally part of Windows now, you don't have to risk your bootloader (those days are gone), run it in a VM. You can install an Ubuntu VM in about 4 clicks from modern Windows. Or, shock horror, wipe a machine and install Linux on it and try it.

      You can tell me that it's "not for you" (I *HATE* MacOS, and I can't stand many of Linux desktop environments, and I would gladly surgically remove SystemD entirely), but I question anyone who says "you can't run Linux desktop" or similar nowadays. It means they haven't really tried it or think that everything non-Linux should work perfectly on it.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I've lately discovered FreeBSD and what a breath of fresh air, simplified with optimal consistent tools. I wish I'd discovered it long ago and now my days of speccing linux for servers is coming to an end.

        linux over the years seems to have morphed into what it stood against. I find it and its culture getting very tiresome. Windows as a sever OS on its own really does seem a bit wrong. But in an Enterprise the admin and management is very developed.

        On the desktop I use mulitple major OSes. Windows as the boot on one, linux as the boot os on another. Linux as a guest OS on the Windows. Mac OS on an M2 with linux and Windows ARM as guest OSes. They all have their place. None of them are rubbish on the desktop because they are, after all, just a host for applications and applications is where the productivity happens on desktops.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Linux was never really suited for the desktop, mostly because it just doesn't run popular Windows software.

        More, I think, because it's seventy three competing GUIs running on top of a clone of a fifty year old minicomputer OS.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "it's seventy three competing GUIs"

          You say that like it's a bad thing. But one size does not fit all. Liam reviewed Elementary here the other day. I'm sure it has users who find it to be just what they want, likewise Cinnamon, XFCE, Gnome, Unity or whatever. If I personally find KDE fits my way of doing things then I don't have to use any of the others (a couple of which would be an extremely bad fit for me).

          To take just one aspect of it - the versions of Windows from 95 to 2000 had a fairly configurable and on the whole user-friendly hierarchical start menu organised on more or less functional lines. Over the years since it has changed into what appears to be an inflexible lumpen mess ending up resorting to alphabetical ordering because nobody seems to recognise that functional organisation is what's needed. I understand that many users resort to typing the name of the program they want into search - they've reinvented the command line in desperation. The Linux desktops I've used have retained the functional organisation and improved on it. KDE, the one I'm most familiar with is fully editable to achieve the arrangement that best suits the user and has remained that way as long as I've used it and has also sprouted a couple of extra choices as to how the user wishes to view the menu.

          It's a world away from the Windows approach of use this whether it works well for you or not, until the next one which might work in an entirely different way. I can have something I can tailor to my needs and enjoy consistency of UI from one release to the next.

          That choice of desktops isn't a reason to avoid Linux - it's actually a very good reason to use it.

          The desktops are over a clone of a 50 year old minicomputer operating system? Fine, there were some very clever people about 50 years ago. Even back then I preferred the one that was cloned for Linux over the one that was cloned for Windows.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            " 'it's seventy three competing GUIs'

            You say that like it's a bad thing.

            Because it is. Market fragmentation is the death knell for Average Joe consumers.

            "That choice of desktops isn't a reason to avoid Linux - it's actually a very good reason to use it."

            Linux users believe that because they've never been in retail. Too *much* choice just ends up alienating the average consumer when it comes to complex products, they get decision lock and can't make up their minds as to which series of compromises (and don't kid, ALL products have compromises) they're willing to put up with. So they will waffle, back and forth and back and forth, unable to come to a definitive answer.

            Anyone is retail long enough to know how reality works, knows to at most give people an average of three choices - A, B, or C - with strongly delineated differences. If, after making the choice of A, B, or C, they are interested in a small difference that one of those choices is close to but not exact, you then give them Ab, Bb, or Cb. Deal, done - they are happy because not only did they get what they wanted, they got positive and useful help in making that [seemingly] important decision.

            Throw all the Linux variables on the Average Joe - from desktop choice, to repository distribution choice, to questions of hardware compatibility, to questions of software compatibility, to learning curve - and you get...dead in the water. No Average Joe wants to commit to that level of plunging off the deep end.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge
              Windows

              "Linux users believe that because they've never been in retail"

              OA was about Android on desktops and laptops for use in hospitality and point of sale locations. Exactly what you are asking for - a defined platform for a limited range of applications mainly 'line of business'. The platform already has development tooling and publishing systems(*). I can see this being quite a popular approach. The approach can probably be extended to customers - most of what I use this laptop for could be done on an Android device (including a bit of sound recording and rough editing of video).

              There are many Linux desktops because it is free/libre software and there is absolutely nothing stopping anyone forking existing software and modifying it. That is sort of the point.

              How exactly would you try to reduce the number of desktops (i.e. curtail the freedom to fork)? What organisational structures would you use? What sanctions would you apply?

              (*) My main concern here is touch screens on actual desktops. The applications need easily discoverable keyboard shortcuts otherwise there will be court cases over strain injuries.

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              "Throw all the Linux variables on the Average Joe - from desktop choice, to repository distribution choice, to questions of hardware compatibility, to questions of software compatibility, to learning curve - and you get...dead in the water. No Average Joe wants to commit to that level of plunging off the deep end."

              If Linux was for sale, I'm sure you could "sell" it in exactly the way you described. Start with a choice of the three main GUIs, find the specific needs of the user, and then present them with a choice of the suitable distros that use the initially chose GUI. I'm sure that would be simple for anyone in retail who knows their products.

              In my experience, most people in retail DO NOT work like that. They have other motives or pressures such as specific brands or models that need to be shifted NOW 'cos the new one is coming soon, or the better commission/profit margin on a certain brand, or the high commission extended warranty with certain brands/models etc. Or, they simply don't understand the products well enough or even don't care, so long as they get a sale.

            3. HISTSIZE=10000

              There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

              Does that mean that ppl don't buy cars?

              1. David 132 Silver badge
                Trollface

                Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                Well.... in the former USSR, there was basically only one model of car for the masses... and that one was so popular that there were decades-long waiting lists for it :)

                (Note icon. I agree with your point. Just being a contrarian.)

              2. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                People choose cars ( when buying from new) on the basis of price range and a preference based on things like what they have had before ( possibly a choice they'd made in a used car showroom based on price and availability or even on what an employer supplied, rather than a particular preference) or saw going along the road and liked the look of, or what their parents used and sometimes friends' recommendations. Or even a TV advert.

                A very different matter from selecting a 'Nux distro. Unless they've used one previously at an employer and decided to use it themselves. Choosing a 'Nux distro would be like fishing blindfold for almost everybody not a techie.

              3. Peshman

                Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                "There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs."

                That's a totally inadequate analogy.

                There are more brands and models of PC's than OS's.

                All cars are either Auto gear shift or manual gear shift with the gears in the same place on the gear stick and the pedals in the same place.

                Windows for your average 'Joe' has a start button with apps and menu options that are standardised across all versions.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                  There are only a few mainstream distro families.

                  John "beginner" Doe will go for one of these:

                  - Fedora (getting acquainted with RH, Oracle, AWS, Rocky, etc...)

                  - Ubuntu, Mint (and downstream distros).

                  So that's your manual vs auto analogy

                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Linux_distributions#/media/File:Linux_Distribution_Timeline.svg

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                    John "beginner" Doe will go for one of these:

                    - Fedora (getting acquainted with RH, Oracle, AWS, Rocky, etc...)

                    - Ubuntu, Mint (and downstream distros).

                    How ironic is that?

                    John Doe will either use Win10 until it's deprecated or the next version. That's it. No ambiguity or options over which flavour I have and where the interface options are. Do I have to worry about "You" having used Gnome instead of KDE?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                      I thought we were discussing the Linux Desktop.

                      Are we reading the same thread?

                  2. doublelayer Silver badge

                    Re: There are more brands of cars than Linux desktop envs.

                    Those two choices are really not comparable to the car analogy. Yes, Fedora and Ubuntu will mean certain things about the OS are now defined. After all, my starting with Ubuntu is possibly why I still mostly use Debian and derivatives for many of my personal devices. Still, I don't think apt and dpkg, though undoubtedly the package management software I'm most familiar with, are the most important part during that decision. For the typical user who doesn't intend to spend much if any time in the terminal, the choice of desktop distribution is going to cause more changes for them. Ubuntu alone has had a few versions of Gnome and Unity, while Mint has Cinnamon, and of course there are tons of variants for people who want different desktops. I remember a lot of ones using Mate because it was light on resources and fit well onto small screens, but that one seems less popular nowadays. I quite like XFCE, but I didn't use Xubuntu to get it, just installed it on whatever I was going to use anyway. Of course, I tried KDE, LXDE, Pantheon (a while ago, it's probably different now), and various others. Not long enough to give them a real assessment, but still. These choices will appear to the nontechnical user as completely different systems. The only reason that they won't get confused by them all is that they won't know they all exist. Tell them about their existence and invite them to select between them and I guarantee you that they'll complain. Meanwhile, that nontechnical user, no time in the terminal person probably can't tell the difference between Ubuntu with KDE and Fedora with KDE except that Fedora with KDE doesn't have an animal picture on the start screen, so when one of us tries to help them with something and asks what distro they're using, they won't know.

            4. Terry 6 Silver badge
              Pint

              See icon

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Mac runs on an actual 50 year-old minicomputer OS, and while it isn’t for everyone, nobody seriously accuses it of being hard to use. I don’t think it is the fact that Linux is a Unix clone is the problem. I also don’t think the choice of desktop environments is such a problem, just go with your distro’s default. The problem is that a lot of things people want to run on it don’t work.

          Also, Windows is a clone of OpenVMS, which is also a pretty old minicomputer os. Not quite 50 years old, but getting there.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Facepalm

            re: nobody seriously accuses it of being hard to use.

            Yeah, right.

            I've just changed to a Mac after decades of windows use. It's not particularly good. Modern Macs are not the Macs of 20 years ago, which had a sublime user experience. They're a bit crappy in comparison.

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Gimp

              Re: re: nobody seriously accuses it of being hard to use.

              20 years and 3 days ago, MacOSX 10.2 (Jaguar) was released to the world. So it was Unix-based back then.

              Remember that MacOS 10 existed for longer than all the versions from 1-9 put together.

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            I think you're being a bit extreme with all of those comparisons. While Windows NT has some roots in VMS and Mac OS some roots in BSD, including all its roots, you can't call either one of those a clone. Nor was it really fair for someone to call Linux a clone of Unix, but that was much more stated as a goal when Linux was created. For example, while NT borrowed some concepts that originally debuted in VMS, it didn't share code, it didn't get designed for compatibility with code written specifically for VMS, it didn't even get the same commands or calls. That's not a clone. Mac OS was a clone of NextStep at one layer, but otherwise its implementation had a lot of modification and NextStep wasn't really a clone of anything even though it had some Unix-like features. I'd say that most desktop OSes only go back to the 1990s, as the code written then was generally from the ground up.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              WNT = VMS++

              Folks who know both VMS internals and WNT internals know that "clone" is not that far from the truth. But I agree, not everybody has that chance.

              That was facilitated by the fact that INTEL x86 architecture takes a lot from the VAX architecture (rings, virtual memory support, etc) itself.

              Differences mainly come from Dave Cutler's trying to improve on VMS as he was designing his 3rd (!!!) operating system.

      3. Code For Broke

        You've got a lot of freakin' time on your hands to have written all that lot. Well done on you. I'm more than a little jealous, and, of course, cynically suspicious.

      4. PhilipN Silver badge

        you don't have to risk your bootloader (those days are gone)

        Right. Desktop computing is no fun any more (cough - cough - choke)

      5. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The big question is...

    Will it be based on pristine AOSP, or the steaming Gargle-infected adware straight from the paddock?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: or the steaming Gargle-infected adware

      Definitely the Gargle version.

      If that is true then for most businesses this will be DOA.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The big question is...

      My guess: both. I have seen some Android devices made for industrial purchases. They're not loaded with bloatware and locked down so they can't breath. They run a clean AOSP with a couple additions from the manufacturer which actually do something, and you can root them if you want and safely remove the extras the manufacturer added. And also, they get no updates of any kind. If you want to install this month's security patch, you should have all the access you need to install it once you've built the image from scratch because Android doesn't include the software to do this and the manufacturer can't be bothered. So I'm guessing this will look something like that, since the article suggests that most of these are intended as kiosks, not office computers.

  3. Ayemooth

    The linked product page doesn't mention Android

    The linked product page doesn't mention Android, at least as of now. Maybe it did before, or will in the future.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: The linked product page doesn't mention Android

      The link is to the existing product, which will be enhanced by an android offer.

      This gives a little more detail: https://www.esper.io/blog/lenovo-esper-foundation-family

      Looks like there might be an announcement of actual product i the coming months.

  4. Crypto Monad Silver badge

    The link given to ThinkCentre M70a shows four models, but all of them come with Windows 11 Pro 64.

    If they decide to sell an Android version, and it's cheaper, that's a good thing. Presumably it's still "a PC" and so you could run a Linux or BSD distribution of your choice - or bring your own Windows licence.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    The best thing about MS and Apple

    is that there is a consistent base for the desktop/phone.

    The worst thing about Android is it's ability to have a myriad (manufacturer *and* telco crufted) different ways of doing something.

    My Android Samsung has completely system different menus to my wifes Alcatel. Same (alleged) "version" of Android.

    I am sick and tired of asking questions on how to do something and getting an answer that "works on mine".

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: The best thing about MS and Apple

      That's because Samsung follows Apple's lead, insisting that their OS be unique and special from [Android] everyone else's.

      By the gods, I hate Samsung phones. Every time I touch a Samsung or Apple phone I want to throw them against a wall. Both UI's are designed by either morons or simply people who have never learned what a good UI is supposed to actually do.

  6. AMBxx Silver badge
    WTF?

    Support?

    My 2 year old phone isn't getting any more Android updates.

    My 6 year old laptop is happily running Windows 11. My 'Grandfather's Axe' PC will continue forever.

    I know there are similar long support for 'proper' Linux and Mac.

    How long are these Android laptops going to be getting updates?

  7. karlkarl Silver badge

    Android isn't a desktop OS; so I don't see how it being Linux based can make it the fabled "year of the desktop".

    Otherwise, since Linux is in many routers kicking around the desk; this means that the Linux desktop has already happened ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't keep my router on the desk, but with the various routers, network disks, media (and Home Assistant) servers in my house, it's been year of linux on the shelf in my house for several years.... Windows installations are outnumbered by Linux in my house, but not on the desktop. (I have one Linux laptop...)

  8. skalamanga

    The latest ota on my lenovo p11 5g broke 5ghz tethering. Lenovo support tried to tell me it was Google's fault and they are not responsible for software issues at all.

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    How much?

    LOL, no. Overpriced. They are only suitable for a real Linux desktop overwrite in the first place, but not at those prices.

  10. Blackjack Silver badge

    The problem with Android PCs is when Android stops supporting them.

  11. aerogems Silver badge

    Just... why?

    Just like I can't figure out the point of running ChromeOS on anything more than an i3 (and even that seems overkill) what possible reason could you have for needing an i9 to run anything on Android? And if you're thinking something like, "It should be able to handle Android updates almost to infinity," sure... if the capacitors and whatnot on the motherboard don't give out after 5-6 years, or it survives the abuses of regular use as a sort of public terminal.

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: Just... why?

      There may be an initiative to create a bloatedcpu intensitive game in android.

    2. probgoblin
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Just... why?

      I would not be surprised if a POS system, which is running inventory management, all the accoutrements (scale, scanners, camera and associated DVR, etc.), telemetry, serving real time adverts, and probably a few things I'm forgetting, is a bit resource hungry.

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