Lollipop, The Roadmap, Physical Goods, and What's Next
Hi all, it's time for an update!
First, in case you haven't been glued to our comment wall, we started posting Console OS Lollipop a couple or so weeks back. You can log in and download it right now, if you're a Kickstarter backer.
It's important to note that Console OS Lollipop, is a complete reboot of the project. Under our new path forward, we are forking the Android-x86 source code, and delivering a free, open-source software alternative to rival closed-source distributions that have followed in our footsteps.
And, we've open-sourced the full stack... something that some of our competitors, using the same kernel have not done.
What to Expect from Lollipop
Our favorite new feature, is the Console OS Express releases. These are, by far, the easiest-to-install distributions of the Android operating system yet. Just copy to a FAT-formatted flash drive, and reboot off of it. That's it!
Unlike other "live" distributions, there's no additional work required. You have a portable, and fully writable, installation of Android for your PC. It takes more bandwidth on our end, but we think it's well worth it.
Some PCs may need UEFI Secure Boot disabled, particularly those that shipped with Windows. And, the same general hardware support requirements apply - which is that Intel-clean systems work best.
We do hope to begin code-signing Console OS for UEFI Secure Boot in the near future, which will remove that step.
NVIDIA and AMD systems, however, remain not supported. We welcome the statements that AMD and NVIDIA have made over the past year, committing to supporting the very features that we need from their open-source driver stacks. But, they just haven't matured enough to take on Android. We hope to continue our ongoing dialogue with AMD on this subject, and start a new one with NVIDIA.
The general public will get access to Console OS Lollipop just one short week from today. We expect to have an updated release available around then - one that will fix a couple key bugs, and add a couple key features. As promised in the original Kickstarter campaign, we'll continue to tap Kickstarter backers as the first wave of early access testers.
We have more work to do. Some things like the loss of Android-IA for PC were simply unforeseeable, and unavoidable. But, we can do better.
One area that we didn't hit the mark on was Console Developer Rewards. We're sorry for that - and we're going to outline what we're doing to make it right. We met our self-imposted timetable to post terms, but we didn't give people enough time for feedback, and to properly inform the projects we plan to support.
While we're setting up Console.com.co/devrewards - you can read the terms under the original update. Fortunately, the feedback we've gotten is pretty positive. We have 2-in-1's, Core i5 build servers, and even Compute Sticks ready to give away in our first month.
We're moving back the first month of Console Developer Rewards to March 21, a week from today. This will give us time to have everything in-place and do it correctly.
Also, on physical goods - shipping Console OS Lollipop is an important next step. As soon as we heard that Android-IA for PC was on troubled waters, we announced we were delaying the shipment of physical goods. Frankly, until we shipped Lollipop - we would rather have refunded people for the physical goods, than ship a laptop sticker for something that didn't pan out.
Now that Console OS is back in action, we're going to start providing regular updates. Some things like the most-major perks will ship rather immediately. Laptop skins, will take the next month or so, as we have to re-select vendors and get proofs, approve them, and then take on the logistics of shipping them. We only have a few hundred physical goods remaining from the campaign, but we're going to ship each and every one of them!
Finally, we are working on the about box, and integrating backers names into the credits there. More on that will come in a future update as well.
What's Next (for Console OS)
We're at another fork in the road... some pun intended. Let's chat about that for a minute.
It's an exciting time for Android on PC. With Android N announced, people can see why we are positioning ourselves as being the commercial Pure Android solution for PCs... Android is growing up to the PC, much as we anticipated!
With multi-window, Vulkan console-grade graphics, and a plethora of keyboard-and-mouse enhancements... we're really excited about Android N.
But, with that excitement, comes challenges. Specifically, PC manufacturers (OEMs, as we call them), aren't very hip to the notion of embracing a non-Google solution for Android today. Simply put, they've been told to wait - for Google. It's hard to argue with a juggernaut like that, particularly now that Android N is in the developer preview phase.
So, we won't. We'll address what we're doing to make money in the next section.
Our focus will be on setting up Marshmallow on our GitHub, incorporating the Android-x86 kernel, while at the same time, expanding the commercial and non-FOSS feature set to add one feature at a time. Supporting new AOSP releases, faster, will be our first goal - consistent with the feedback you raised in Hardware Voting.
Work for that will be well under way, by month's end. Also, we are working hard to integrate the per-device builds that we started on GitHub, utilizing per-device DPI calibrations and other features in the kernel. In English - there will be one build of Console OS for you to download, for all devices.
What's Next (for Console, Inc.)
We're still committed to Console OS. But we have to be realistic, with OEMs told to wait for Google, we aren't going to grow as a company barking up that tree. Not right now, at least.
We're confident than as Google-blessed Android PCs emerge, and replace Chrome OS, that Console OS will continue to do what we promised in our Risks outline, and that is to evolve the feature set, and roll with the punches.
Until then, we've been focused on two compelling new products. Unfortunately, our first push to make that happen, iConsole micro, just didn't get the industry support we were hoping to. Silicon makers were unwilling to collaborate with us on porting key Android drivers, and software support, to make that a retail-packaged offering.
We've learned from that, however. The experience has made us more fiercely independent.
Over the past year, we've been putting into place new hardware - truly disruptive hardware that does not require backers to invest money up front... nor does it require the blessing of chipmakers. We're pretty optimistic about what we've been building. And, as we pivot to devices as our mainstay, we think we can continue to push the limits of Android in a sustainable manner.