Android platform shines in nearly every aspect, from its large number of developers support to gargantuan amount of customization options. Being an open source platform, anyone can compile the code and cook their desired ROM according to their own needs (provided they have supported kernal and other required files). One of the latest iterations of Android OS is Ice Cream Sandwich or commonly called as ICS. ICS has brought to table some of the most wanted features of Android, one of them being Hardware Acceleration and brilliant UI .Last year, we covered BlueStacks, an Android app player for Windows that allows you to run numerous Android apps in full screen mode without experiencing much performance or compatibility issues. However, if you want to use the latest version of the Android operating system itself (ICS), without buying a new Android device or flashing a custom ROM to your Android phone, you can run it as a guest OS on your desktop computer using a pre-configured Andriod 4.0 virtual disk image. Just like any guest operating system, you can use all the features and options of Andriod ICS without making any changes to your host system. You’ll require Oracle VirtualBox to run the virtual machine, of course. The rest is quite simple, but just in case you get stuck somewhere in the process, following is a brief and simple tutorial on how to get it running.
The first thing you’d need is download and install VirtualBox (download link given at the bottom of the post). Now download the pre-configured Andriod ICS OS setup and extract it. When extracted to your preferred directory, look for the file named Android-v4.vbox. Just double-click it to load the configuration file in VirtualBox.
Once loaded, you can start the Android ICS in a virtual machine by double-clicking the Android-v4 VM available in left sidebar.
During boot, choose the second option Android Start from /dev/sda to continue booting into Android ICS virtual machine.
If all goes well, you should have the latest Android operating system breathing on your computer, just as you are using it on an actual phone. Navigating between screens, selecting and using applications works in roughly the same way it does in an Android emulator.
Download links for VirtualBox and the pre-configured Android 4.0 virtual disk image are provided below. Testing was carried out on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit OS edition.