Dual-boot death knell: why dual-OS devices would have died on their own anyway

Asus duet Td300

According to reports earlier this month, neither Microsoft, nor Google are keen on the idea of hybrid devices that dual-boot Windows and Android. On top of that, both the Asus Duet hybrid laptop, which the company showed off at CES 2014, and Huawei’s Windows/Android smartphone seem to have been caught in the crossfire and sent to an early grave.

These developments certainly aren’t surprising, given that Google and Microsoft are competing companies, both vying to be the go-to platform that powers today’s as well as tomorrow’s devices. More specifically, Microsoft probably isn’t happy to share hard drive space on desktops and laptops, where Windows still dominates. Meanwhile, Google has made it clear that they don’t see Android as a laptop or desktop OS. That’s what Chrome OS is for.

Google has made it clear that they don’t see Android as a laptop or desktop OS. That’s what Chrome OS is for.

But regardless of why Google and Microsoft seem averse to the idea of dual-boot devices, there are plenty of reasons why they aren’t a good option for most consumers anyway. The dual-boot devices I’ve seen so far, like Asus’ Transformer Book Trio and Transformer AiO desktop/tablet, don’t lead me to believe that dual-booting devices will ever be anything more than niche options for enthusiasts and tech nerds.

Hybrid devices also usually require extra hardware. For instance, the Transformer Book Trio has a Windows PC in its base, and a whole separate set of tablet hardware behind its screen. Upcoming chips from Intel and AMD that can run both Windows and Android code will make this less of a necessity. Nevertheless, these devices will likely always need some form of extra hardware to accommodate different operating systems and modes, whether that’s just dual batteries and a couple of extra ports, or extra chips and storage.

Extra hardware also means extra weight, bulk, and cost. Those problems were our primary issues with the Transformer Book Trio. At 3.7 pounds, it’s much heavier than similarly sized Ultrabooks, nearly an inch thick as a laptop, and because the extra hardware means there’s less room for a big battery, battery life is short.

Asus TD300

Price is also a problem. For the Trio’s asking price of $1,300, you could easily buy a thinner, lighter, longer-lasting Ultrabook and a good Android tablet, like the Nexus 7 or, if you prefer a bigger screen, Sony’s Xperia Tablet Z.

Sure, the above issues could be balanced by improved hardware design. However, it seems very unlikely to me that mainstream consumers have either the tech know-how to fully grasp the potential benefits (and limitations) of a dual-OS device, or the patience to figure out how to manage two software environments on one device. Give a dual-OS device to your uncle or aunt, and they’ll likely spend nearly all their time in one OS or the other. So why pay for both options?

As a long-time hardware enthusiast, I understand the appeal of dual-OS devices–in theory.

As a long-time hardware enthusiast, I understand the appeal of dual-OS devices–in theory. In theory, I’d love one device that has all the productivity prowess of my Windows laptop and all the great apps found in the Android or iOS app stores. But in practice, every dual-OS device I’ve tried so far has been more expensive than two separate devices, and more cumbersome to use as well.

For the record, I’ve never owned an iPad, an iPhone, or a MacBook Air. However, there’s a reason that Apple made the smartphone market mainstream and why they’ve been gaining ground recently in the shrinking PC market as well. Apple generally makes products that are easy to understand and easy to use. That’s what most consumers crave: a device that gets out of the way, lets you do what you want, and just works.

A good Windows laptop can be that kind of device. So can a good Android tablet, but it’s hard to see how a dual-booting hybrid device could ever be as simple, affordable, and easy to understand as two separate devices that do their respective jobs well. With most PC makers now also selling Android tablets, it’s hard to understand why they would want to spend massive amounts of money developing one device for all your computing needs when they can just sell you two.

Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

PDF to JPG conversion is as quick as a few clicks with these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.
Computing

Gmail's unsend email feature is one of its best. Here's how to use it

Everyone has sent a message they wish they could take back. How great would it be if you could undo that impulsive email? If you're a Gmail user, you can. Here's how to recall an email in Gmail.
Computing

How to change your Gmail password whenever you want in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.
Computing

Lost without Print Screen? Here's how to take a screenshot on your Mac

Whether you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts or applications such as Grab and Preview, this guide will teach you how to take a screenshot on a Mac. Once you know how, you'll be able to capture images within seconds.
Computing

Converting files from MKV to MP4 is quick and easy. Just follow these steps

MKV files have their place, but if you would rather convert your videos from MKV to MP4, there are two methods we consider the best and most efficient for getting it done. In this guide, we'll walk you through them step by step.
Computing

Listen up Apple: Here’s how to fix the Touch Bar once and for all

If you’re wondering what the point of the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is, you’re not alone. We know it’s got potential, but it’s never managed to hit the heights of what it promised. Here’s what Apple must do to change it for the…
Computing

Google Chrome 76 will stop websites from seeing users in Incognito Mode

Google Chrome 76 will implement a fix that will stop websites from detecting visitors who are in Incognito Mode. Google acknowledged that the change will complicate matters for publishers who have metered paywalls on their news websites.
Gaming

Be forewarned, these free MMORPGs will slay your spare time

Have ample time on your hands and an unquenchable thirst to beat, battle, and blast your way through worlds of fantasy and sci-fi splendor? Check out our picks for the best free MMORPGs.
Computing

Here's how to download a YouTube video to watch offline later

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are tools you can use both online and offline. This step-by-step guide will instruct you on how to use them.
Computing

Need to rip audio from a video? Here's how to download music from YouTube

Ripping audio from YouTube has never been easier, but with so many tools on offer, which is the best? Our guide will teach you how to download music from YouTube with two different tools. Just proceed with caution.
Computing

M4A is great for quality, but not for storage. Here's how to convert to MP3

Despite its remarkable ability to retain audio fidelity at a smaller size, M4A files aren't the best when it comes to compatibility. Check out our basic guide on how to convert M4A files to MP3.
Computing

If you work in an office, you should know how to recall an email in Outlook

If you're an outlook user who sent an angry email and really wish you hadn't, then you're in luck. There are ways to recall that email, but you'll have to act fast. Here's how to recall an email in outlook.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.