Android on Windows 8

Unlike the Windows Phone SDK, the Android SDK works fairly well with the Windows 8 consumer preview. We know a lot of you folks want to be on the bleeding edge, and for Windows users that means installing the Win8 preview on your computer at home. I decided to dive in and see what was working, and what wasn't, and installed it on my laptop to test things out.

The verdict -- most everything works just as it did before. It's just harder to get to it with Windows' silly new interface. Hit the jump, and we'll have a look.

I repartitioned, swore a bit, and ended up just wiping everything and installing a fresh copy of Win 8 on my laptop. I then installed the Samsung drivers, and the Android SDK (release 16, available here), Sun Java, and rebooted. The good news is that everything from the SDK works, and Android devices are recognized with no extra software installation. 

File transfers

Windows 8 pop-upWhen you plug your Android phone in, you're greeted by a new style pop-up box asking what you want to do when you plug this type of media in. If you ignore it, it goes away in a few seconds. But if you click it you're faced with a choice based on the programs you've got installed -- things like open pictures in Photo Viewer, play video with VLC, and so forth. You can also choose to open the folder to view all the files, and this is probably what you should pick.  When you choose this, the new explorer opens in a new window, displaying the drive assigned to the newly mounted media. If you ignore the pop-up, you can open the drive through Explorer or My Computer.

USB Mass storage on Windows 8

MTP on Windows 8

Phones and tablets that use MTP instead of USB Mass Storage for file transfer work the same way. Plug the device in, let Windows configure it the first time, and you see the same pop-up dialog. You won't be asked to install any extra software, and things work just as you'd expect them too. It took 16 years, but it looks like Microsoft got it right this time, at least for removable media.

The Android SDK

Android SDK manager on Windows 8

The prerequisites to install and use the SDK are all the same -- the Sun Java JDK, enough free space, and a 32-bit backwards-compatible environment if using a 64-bit OS. Luckily, Windows 8 will install the JDK just fine and has the required 32-bit libraries on the 64-bit version to make SDK magic happen. Again, it's done just like it was on previous versions of Windows, and everything went without a hitch.

Once installed, all your adb commands work as expected.  You can still set your PATH variable in Win 8, it's juts a bit trickier to find. Open the Control Panel, click More Settings, then search for "Environmental Variables." When you find them, click "Edit the system environment variables." The rest is the same as before. Hiding things from the user seems to be a trend in the new Windows, and one that will tend to make more work for our advisers and Android hacking in general. Curse you Microsoft. But, as mentioned, adb works fine.

adb on Windows 8

But Fastboot doesn't.

Fastboot fail

This throws a big wrench in the works if you've got a device that uses the fastboot protocol. This means all three Nexus devices, and several others. It also means access to the HTC bootloader unlocking tool isn't going to happen, at least not yet. This could be problematic. I say could, because it's quite possible that a small edit to the Android driver .ini file, or an updated set of drivers from an OEM, or a new version of the fastboot executable will make this a non-issue. I'm betting one of the three happens, but for now, doing things exactly the same way that works with Windows 7 does not work with Windows 8. Further investigation is needed, but for now, if you need fastboot, skip the Windows 8 preview.

And don't worry. I'm uninstalling this monstrosity Windows 8 and trying the newest Ubuntu 12 beta to see how it all works. Look for that in a day or two. I love choices.


Reader comments

Using the Android SDK tools with Windows 8 Consumer Preview


Sorry you can cross out your real feelings all you like Windows 8 is awesome and blows any Linux away. However Android wins the phones.

How is the horrible metro interface better then the standard desktop Windows and Macs have been using for ever?

Edit: Linux's GNOME also has the same basic desktop interface as Windows and Mac.

Jerry is merely expressing his opinions (ones I don't happen to share. I love both Linux Mint and Windows 8 in different ways). However, at least he's not stating them as a fact like you seem to be.

I agree Metro is not an enterprise UI. I support 250 plus SMB's and that silly metro interface with it's hidden "buttons" and tablet gimmicks does not work on a large desktop screen with a mouse. It actually makes it HARDER to get to something.

PS. and the metro apps that take full screen attention on a desktop, like windows isn't smart enough to detect hardware and snap that stuff into a window.. it is running on WINDOWS 8 for goodness sake, and this is from a windows fanboy.

Yea I owned a windows phone and liked the metro UI well enough on a smartphone, and it might work very well for a tablet, but on a real pc it's just a huge waste of time. I wonder if you can disable it, if not you might be able too in the future when everyone gets sick of it.

Last I recall the desktop is an app that runs on top of metro. I have a feeling I'll be sticking to Windows 7 until Windows 9 comes out.

They aren't going to decide to pull all the work they did on windows 8 out of windows 9. Anyone that hates Metro, welcome to Microsofts future. Learn to work with it, around it, or find a different OS. If anything, I predict Windows 9 will further integrate Metro, not shy away from it.

It depends. If it turns out to be as unpopular as Vista was then they might toss it. But you are probably right, whether they stick with it or not I should be looking for a new OS since Microsoft has been slowly undergoing the process of becoming Apple in all the ways I hate.

Vista was incredibly popular, but windows 7 was just a modified Vista for the most part. Windows 9 will probably be the same to windows 8.

No problems here. Running and compiling apps no problem on Windows 8.

As for editing the path variables, it is exactly the same as Windows 7. Right click on "My Computer"->Properties->Advanced System Settings->Environmental Variables.

One thing that's nice for Metro for developers, I'm a start button tap away from Eclipse, the Eclipse workspace file system, AVD Manager, SDK Manager, and Command Prompt, in one group. In Windows 7, there was just not enough space to do that in Start/Taskbar if you had other things you wanted pinned (like a similar format for Visual Studio).

Metro sucks, this will make me move away from windows entirely. I can't even stand the metroish ui update on 360. Pure crap

I don't know but the ui on the xbox makes me want to rage. Instead of it being all nice and easy to navigate, you now have to navigate through those horrid tiles. Even my kids hate it. unplugged my 360 from the network, don't want any more horrid ui changes. I wish I had bothered to look into it before updating because it's really annoying and I could care less about xbox live.

personally I prefer my good old desktop as I can minimize things and have a BLANK desktop... Also, this is a BIG distraction in business.... Businesses will skip this just like Vista was skipped over unless they can off a standard desktop..

They will also skip this because business starting really rolling out windows 7 within the past 6 months. They won't be so eager to move again. It costs them huge amounts of money to, and they often skip at least one, if not more than one iteration of windows anyway.

Jerry had it right the first time. Why do people keep trying to reinvent the wheel? I get where they are going with this and why they are doing it. But like typical M$ they never execute it properly. Metro UI can work, just not this way. Include it yes, don't foist it on us and say we will like it. WE DON'T! Metro on a tablet is fine, on a non-touch capable laptop it's just awful and plain wrong. This looks like it's going to be WinME all over again. Looks like it's a MacBook for me then.

Ahhh...not so fast. Apple seems to be incorporating iOS at an alarming rate. Pretty soon, everything will be running on a phone style O.S. and the only difference will be how big the screen is...

One of the biggest things going for Windows over Mac was familiarity. The Metro interface removes that. One of the last reasons to hold on to Windows is gone. If im a learn a new UI and such then I might as well get a Mac, which would be a much easier learning curve than that Metro mess.

That said, I think the regular desktop is still there, in fact you can put a tile (or whatever they call it) for the desktop on your start page and it will take you to the regular way (minus the start button)
If you try to think of Metro like the home screen on any android device, filled with widgets and shortcuts, but you can go to the old fashioned list of icons to all your apps as well, which is like the reg might not be so bad.

I disagree there. The biggest things Windows has had going for it since the very beginning has been backwards compatibility, available software, and a wide range of hardware options.

Hi from a Fedora user.
I tried Windows 8, but I'm sure I won't be using it as a daily OS. I insist that Metro is not suitable for that. (I don't want to further comment on this - I've already talked too much in engadget.)

People seem to think that Apple will be the last bastion of reason. Ahhh...sorry, but Apple is going the EXACT same route. OSX is incorporating more and more of iOS in it. Since they have had such sparkling success with the iFamily, why not? Apple seems to think that everything can be done on a tablet or a phone and for the majority of "users", that's true. The content consumers FAR outnumber the content creators (those who don't want to do Photoshop on a phone). The problem is, there will always be a need for someone to create what all these people are consuming. Microsoft is trying to appease both, but they should just treat them both differently. Some people DON'T WANT to do anything but read email and surf the web. You get Metro. For web developers, coders , system admins, etc. You get the desktop (or Metro if you want it). Simple as that. Trying to mix the different use cases and get it all with one OS and make anybody happy is close to impossible. Kudos to Microsoft if they can pull it off. I DO have my doubts.

As I see it this is Microsoft following Apple's example. Make everything "simpler" so that the stupid people who shouldn't be allowed near a computer will be able to check their email easily.

Obviously the Metro UI is designed primarily as a touch interface. For business, that's a tough sell. But put in a device like the Asus Transformer, it becomes a viable consumer PC replacement. And it probably won't seem so silly if 90%+ of your personal computing is being done on a similar mobile interface.

The merging of mobile and desktop environments had to happen at some point, and there will be growing pains. I have been a strong advocate of "different isn't always better" with numerous Microsoft products in the past. I just starting using Windows 7 and so far I like the new funtionality but absolutey hate the structure. But this appears to be more in line with where the future is headed, so I'll give it a chance.

I agree the merging had to happen, but it is merging in the wrong direction, mobile devices should be more like desktop devices.

You mean like the old Windows Mobile?

Seriously though, this may be more of a mobile interface on a desktop, which will take some getting used to, but the other side should be more desktop capability on mobile devices. Which is what I really care about, because outside of my work-supplied equipment I personally don't need anything more than a Transformer Prime type device running something like W8. And I think most people fit that demographic.

At any rate, it should be interesting. Will W8 continue Microsoft's dominance or will it open a door for other competitors? It's a risk, no doubt about that.

If they force Metro on everyone I see this backfiring big time for MS. Businesses are not going to want to use it, I guarantee it. If it can't be disabled, it's going to be Me/Vista all over again. Thankfully 7 serves my purposes fine, I used XP for over 6 years, I can wait MS out.

Microsoft lost me with Vista and now 7. I'm still using Windows XP Pro until it's no longer supported with security updates in 2014. Then I'm off to Linux! Suck it Microsoft! Signed, a huge ex-Microsoft advocate.

I guess I'm in the minority on this, I like it. Metro is just the new start menu, it is not the whole OS. I pin all my frequent apps to the taskbar and don't have much need for the start menu. What I like is the metro app docking. I like being able to keep my e-mail running down the side of one monitor and use the other 75% of that monitor for traditional software. Additional monitors only run the traditional desktop and can't run metro apps at all. You spend as much time in metro as you want. It is very easy to stay out of it if it is not your thing. You just can't stay completely out of it. Using it with a mouse and keyboard is easier than touch once you get accustomed to right click options and keyboard shortcuts. I miss them when I am on my tablet PC and have to drag and swipe to do things that a right click or ctrl+F4 can handle in a fraction of a second.

i'm trying to install android sdk on Windows 8 but it won't let me install the Android SDK. It says I need the Java SDK or whatever installed first and I installed jdk-7u9-windows-x64 but it still comes up with the same error when I try to install the Android SDK.
"Error:failed to find java version for c:\windows\system\system32\java.exe

Anyone using Windows 8 and got it working?

i managed to get the real nexus 7 device, and the virtual device, to run on windows 8. for the physical device, finally found:
which references:!downloads/c1wax
hint, connect the device to the usb port of the windows 8 computer to see nexus 7 listed in the list of devices on the win 8 computer. download and install the device driver. should be good to go.
on my mac mini, everything worked with no need to install drivers.

for the virtual device, see: See:

When i plug in my device , it installs it ... do i wait untill its finished installing then it will pop up? IM CUNFUZELEDZ Trying to root to get market manager to get minecraft pe