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.

Product Review

The HP Chromebook x2 takes Chrome to the next level

HP’s Chromebook x2 acts a lot like Microsoft’s Surface Book 2, with a well-equipped tablet that plugs into a keyboard base that’s heavy enough to keep the combination mostly stable. Is this premium Chromebook the best one you can buy?

From beautiful to downright weird, check out these great dual monitor wallpapers

Multitasking with two monitors doesn't necessarily mean you need to split your screens with two separate wallpapers. From beautiful to downright weird, here are our top sites for finding the best dual monitor wallpapers for you.

Microsoft may go back to black with 2018 Surface Pro and Surface Laptop

Microsoft may be adding black as a color option to its refreshed Surface Laptop and Surface Pro models on October 2nd. Rumors of the new color along with an image of the black Surface Laptop popped up over the weekend.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6: Everything we know

If you've been eyeing a Surface Pro, you may want to wait until 2019. Microsoft is expected to give its professional tablet a major design overhaul and introduce updated features, like a new processor, USB-C, and more.

Tap Strap wearable keyboard gains support for VR applications

TAP System's wearable keyboard gains support for virtual reality, now compatible with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTV headsets. Type and tap for up to eight hours in VR without needing to look at a physical keyboard.

Wi-Fi vulnerability could allow attackers to steal your data on unencrypted sites

A 20-year-old security flaw in the design of the Wi-Fi standard and how computers communicate using the transmission control protocol could allow hackers to perform a web cache poisoning attack to steal your data and login information.
Product Review

The powerhouse Alienware 17 R5 will leave your desktop in the dust

With a 17-inch display and a chassis weighing in at nearly 10 pounds, the Alienware 17 R5 is truly massive. Between its weight and its hardware, it’s certainly outfitted like a gaming desktop so let’s find out if it performs like one.

Walmart takes $380 off the MacBook Air for a limited time

Walmart is offering a steep discount on the MacBook Air. Though the $380 discount is lovely, this offer comes with an extra charger to sweeten the deal. If you're looking to pick up an Apple MacBook for less, now is an excellent time.

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using 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.

Documentation shows data recovery possible for Macs with T2 coprocessor

New documentation from Apple shows that data recovery is indeed possible for Macs with T2 Coprocessor thanks to internal diagnostics software, giving users of the 2018 MacBook Pro new hope in the event of a system failure.

Smart Reply not smart enough? Desktop Gmail users can soon opt out

Google will soon give desktop Gmail users the ability to opt out of Smart Reply. If you'd prefer to compose a short email the old-fashioned way, you can do so without seeing the auto-generated suggestions in the future.

Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

There are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, and though the selection is robust, finding a solid solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here, we've rounded up best PDF editors, so you can edit no matter your budget or OS.

Pain in the wrists? Type in comfort with one of these great ergonomic keyboards

Long typing sessions can leave anyone's wrists aching, but if you have one of the best ergonomic keyboards, that doesn't have to be the case. Our list of favorites will support good typing posture while being comfortable to use.

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.