Put this one squarely in the long shot column. Supplier tipsters at DigiTimes claim that Google is encouraging its hardware partners to consider new tablets and netbooks that run Android 5.0, unconfirmed code name “Jelly Bean“, in the second quarter of this year. The anonymous Taiwanese source states that Google hopes dual-booting solutions for standard form factors can be created, specifically incorporating both Android 5.0 and Windows 8 ARM on the same hardware. Such a combination would be technically feasible, thougfh early looks at Windows 8 indicates that its ARM-flavored variant will be highly locked down.
The real surprise is the implication that Google would release yet another major Android revision in the first half of this year. To be blunt, this seems highly unlikely: Google’s aware of the version upgrade headaches that nearly every manufacturer seems to produce, most egregiously their upcoming acquisition Motorola. Three months after its debut, ICS still only runs on 1% of active Android devices. With the smartphone and tablet software of Android finally integrated in Android 4.0, Google had previously stated that they intended to shift to a once-yearly update schedule for major updates. While Android 5.0 is certainly in development, it seems highly unlikely that Google would show it off before fall, even to its close partners.
The more interesting (and unverified) news is that Google’s positioning Android as a viable alternative to Windows. That would seem to imply that they’ve given up on Chrome OS, and are instead going after the same low-power laptop market with a reinvigorated Android, now grown up with more standard desktop features. It’s even got Chrome now, albeit in a limited form. As we’ve seen from the Asus Transformer, Motorola’s Lapdocks and various external viewing solutions, the idea of using Android as a traditional desktop OS isn’t as alien as you might think.