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Dual-boot Android and Windows tablets and PCs face skepticism

Analysts say dual-boot systems with Android and Windows will appeal to a few users such as coders and tests

By Agam Shah
March 14, 2014 05:12 PM ET

IDG News Service - Dual-boot PCs and tablets could potentially give users the best of both worlds with Android and Windows OSes. But they won't catch on as there is little use for such systems, analysts said.

The coming-out party for dual-boot PCs and tablets was at International CES in January, where many such systems were introduced. Asustek announced the Transformer Book Duet TD300, which can switch between Android and Windows with the press of a button. But Asus has postponed plans for such dual-boot systems because of pressure from Google and Microsoft, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

"I don't think it's a huge market anyways, so it's not a horrible tragedy," said Bob O'Donnell, principal analyst at Technalysis Research. "It's not a deal breaker."

The dual-boot PCs and mobile devices are still experimental, and use for such systems has yet to be found, analysts said. Dual-boot systems running Windows and Linux are already being used, and Asus sells the Transformer AiO P1801, an 18.4-in. portable all-in-one that can switch between Windows and Android.

Such systems could be attractive to a few like enthusiasts, hackers or coders who need both OSes on a system to test programs, said O'Donnell.

There is an advantage to dual-boot as it reduces the need for an extra Windows or Android tablet, O'Donnell said. But users are usually dedicated to the OS of their choice, and will seldom use the other option.

Companies have tried to sell dual-boot systems before, but not one has succeeded, said Roger Kay, principal analyst of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

"I don't see why there would be interest in that," Kay said.

Moreover, no company has fully backed the development of such systems, or clearly explained the usage model.

"Somebody has to own it," Kay said.

The major advantage to dual-boot systems is that they run the full library of Windows and Android apps, said Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights and Strategy.

"The lack of Windows 8 apps has been a purchase inhibitor, but dual-boot removes the objection. If not done right, though, it also has the potential to confuse users, who may struggle with different environments, Moorhead said.

Neither Microsoft nor Google like dual-boot because to them, it compromises their experiences and monetization potential, Moorhead said.

"For instance, a dual-boot user may use Google Play Movies versus Xbox Movies, or vice versa," Moorhead said.

Google did not return requests for comment, but Microsoft didn't clearly say if it opposed the development of dual-boot systems.

"Our policies have not changed, Microsoft will continue to invest with OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] to promote best-in-class OEM and Microsoft experiences to our joint customers," Microsoft said in an email.

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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