Android 4.4 RC1 is available as a download for installing on a PC. It can be installed on a USB stick or SD card for testing purposes without interfering with the original operating system. Most modern computers before Windows 8 allow booting from USB or CD's. My test machine was a 5 year old entry level laptop with 1Gb RAM. Boot time was around 40 seconds and Shutdown 15 seconds. No virus scanning needed. The wireless printer / scanner worked with the iPrint&Scan App from the Google store correctly. Web and e-mail App's worked perfectly on Ethernet and wireless connections. Skype automatically set itself up with the internal camera and microphone. External drives were usable but the internal hard disk drive could not be seen. Open office 3.6 is available on the Google store but cannot open the writer and spreadsheet together, although Android 4.4 does support two Applications at once. Remote desktop software can be used to run Windows programs from another computer. Operation is very fast with screens that fade in and out giving an appearance similar to a tablet. This software could give a new life to many slow and old computers.
Chromebooks are now manufactured by most major PC makers except ASUS. As this space is a little overcrowded ASUS are betting on a Desktop system rather than a Laptop. These will be available in March 2014 for US $179 recommended retail price. This is a quiet "Fanless" machine running the new Haswell processor from Intel. Ports include USB 3.0, Ethernet, Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI, Displayport and card reader. The Hard drive is a 16Gb Solid state disk which is ample for the Lightweight Chrome Operating System. Personal files are held in the cloud or External USB drives. Both HP and LG are also promising Chromeboxes in the next couple of months.
This release is a major release with many speed and function enhancements. Docx file editing has better compatibility with Microsoft office files. Publisher and Visio files can now be used in this edition. Most of the updates are geared towards business usage as many Governments are now requiring open source solutions. This fully featured package is available free for Windows, Mac and linux.