Dual-OS devices dead on arrival

Dual-OS devices dead on arrival

Summary: It looks like Huawei's dual-OS smartphone is going the way of the Asus Transformer Book Duet. The concept of a device that can run both Android and Windows holds a lot of appeal. But as long as Google, Microsoft and Apple have competing ecosystems, it is unlikely to see the light of day.


The concept of running two operating systems makes sense for certain types of devices, in particular high-end tablets and hybrids that double as small laptops. When running Android, you have access to more than a million touch-optimized apps in the Google Play Store. And when running Windows, you can get “real work” done with Office, typically with a keyboard. As good as that vision sounds, it seems to be running into business realities.

Last week a Huawei executive told the site Trusted Reviews that the company planned to release a smartphone that runs both Android and Windows Phone in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year. A week later Huawei says its plans have changed. The company said, in a statement to the site FierceWireless, that it is focused on Android and “at this stage there are no plans to launch a dual-OS smartphone in the near future."

Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Asus had “indefinitely postponed” the release of the Transformer Book Duet TD300, a hybrid PC capable of switching back and forth between Android and Windows 8. It isn’t clear whether Google, Microsoft or both objected. But it was surprising because both Asus and Intel had heavily promoted the Transformer Book Duet. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich even highlighted it in his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

There are already PCs out there running Android or Chrome OS, but it isn’t hard to see why software companies would object to dual-OS devices. The battle is about ecosystems.

Apple and Google have the dominant mobile ecosystems, leaving BlackBerry and Windows Phone fighting over a sliver of the market. Windows still dominates a shrinking PC market, but the modern (aka “Metro”) touch-optimized environment in Windows 8 hasn’t been successful. Add Android to a Windows smartphone, tablet or PC, and there would be even less reason for developers or users to adopt Windows Phone or Windows 8.

Google already has plenty of developers and users, but it already has enough trouble with forked versions used by Amazon, Nokia and many of the smartphone companies in China. It wants to make sure that when you use an Android devices, you are also using Google apps and services.

As for Apple, the ecosystem is a means to an end. It wants to keep selling iPhones and iPads at healthy margins.

Related coverage:

Topics: Windows 8, Android, Apple, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, Windows Phone

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  • What?

    "The concept of a device that can run both Android and Windows hold lots of appeal"

    Ummm... To whom. This was never a good idea and further illustrates Microsofts struggles with its new platform(s)
    • Well, to me

      But I'm a nerd, and like running multiple OSes for fun. Pretty much non-techie would care. :)
      • Windows Phone would

        smoke Android on same hardware. Even on cheap hardware Windows Phone is super smooth. I really wish we could have tried this dual boot phone.
        • DARN IT


          Android has no chance against WP performance.
          Sean Foley
          • Windows Phone has no chance.... period.

            What's it like to be a troll for a failed platform? What satisfaction does it bring?
    • Why is this Microsofts struggle?

      Google wants to get into desktops/enterprise just as much as Microsoft wants to get into mobile. Neither are really desperate enough to want another operating system clogging up their user experience on their respective devices.

      Personally I think if you put both operating systems on the same device the limitations of Androids would shine through. Other than some games I don't see what Android would bring to a dual operating system device.

      I think the real struggle here is from Asus/Intel

      Asus is getting beat up on both PC and Android markets by their competitors. They are looking for anything to sell more devices.

      Intel is getting clobbered in the mobile space and they are desperate to get their chips into mobile anyway possible.

      Neither cares which operating system is sold if it will sell more of their products.
      • As a softie

        That's hardly surprising.
        Personally I think Google has the better phone OS and Microsoft the better desktop OS.
        At the moment.
        All things can change in the future however.
        • No.

          No one ever wants to run Windows Phone though, whether now or in the future.
          • Rubbish!

            I have a Nokia 800 Windows 7 Phone which I got when I traded in my iPhone 3 and it is the best phone I have ever had.

            I would update right now to a W8 phone but I'm waiting to see what Microsoft do with Nokia before I commit to a two year plan.
            Gary O'Connor
          • load of crap

            I have a Windows phone and I love it, my friend had a Windows phone but got an iPhone and says he wishes he would have gotten another Windows phone.
            Brock Jones
          • Windows Phone

            is the best phone OS out there full stop. The others are like half-baked betas in comparison. Its only the USA that hasn't caught on yet that iOS is old hat....
          • I never considered Windows Phone just due to the lazy-fugly-flat UI

            iOS UI back then was just too attractive to ignore. Besides an iPhone, Windows Phone just looked like a child's lego pile. Now that iOS 7 is out with no option to totally get rid of the lazy-fugly-flat look system wide AND with app updates making app UIs fuglier everyday, I think iOS has dropped to the Windows Phone level in terms of attractiveness.

            Now my only other options is Android; somewhat considering the BlackBerry Z30. On Android, I have options for skins; thus I can officially and easily theme my Android device to get rid of the lazy-fugly-flat look if there's any.
        • On a dual boot phone, I think MS would have come out on top

          I suspect most people who have windows phones have also had an android phone, so I doubt android would have pulled many people away.

          However, I suspect most android users have little to no exposure to try a windows phone and this would have given many the chance to do that. Some would like it over Android and make it their phone OS of choice.

          Not that I think having a dual operating system phone is a good idea. I actually think it is the worst idea of the bunch as few will actively want to continually cycle their phone between two operating systems when either is going to provide all the services they mainly need from a phone. I don't think there is much difference on a tablet/laptop either.
    • Frankly, it's a good idea as long as

      the buyer is not purchasing Windows at time of purchase. It should be billed extra if the user chooses that option. Maybe a 30 day option to buy before it expires.

      Otherwise if it costs most for the phone to include Windows it is a scam. Might as well be Windows only at that point.
      • Android costs money too.

        The licensing fees Android OEMs pay might just be more than the cost of Windows Phone license now.

        Somehow I suspect you will say that isn't a scam, Android is good, Microsoft bad.
        • Android licenses

          Are mostly paid to Microsoft... So I suppose MS could give a break to companies making the dual boot thingy
          • Maybe, but...

            Google could also pay the proper licensing fees for the patents they put into Android.

            I suspect Microsoft overlooking the patent fees might actually weaken their patent claim. Either way I'm not sure what business sense that would make for MS to ignore Android taking their patents and removing the fees so that Android can also reside on the same phone as WP8.

            It was just a bad idea all around for dual booting.
    • What????

      "The concept of a device that can run both Android and Windows hold lots of appeal.

      Ummm... To whom. This was never a good idea."

      It further illustrates the conflict between two ecosystems. not the deficiencies of any one.
      Ian Easson
  • run them at the same time, THEN you've got something

    Dual booting is nothing new. I'm typing this on an HP DV7 laptop running Windows 7, with Windows 8 on the second drive. Windows 8 hardly ever gets booted (I have an ASUS T100 for that). Once I get comfortable with Windows 8, the Windows 7 drive will rarely get used. Having to shut down one to run the other wipes out the usefulness of the secondary OS. A VM running the second OS would be much more useful, like BlueStacks running Android on my T100, or the VM I run when I need Windows XP compatibility for ancient programs.
    • I too would prefer VM

      As long as I can get access to Google Play store... Android without it is useless.