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OEMs, Intel making big mistake with two-headed, dual-OS devices

Gregg Keizer | Jan. 7, 2014
OEMs and Intel risk damaging both the Android and Windows ecosystems if they go through with plans to sell devices able to run software from both worlds, an analyst argued today.

"I don't see a benefit to consumers," Miller said of the Android-and-Windows concept. "There may be a theoretical benefit, but it appears that these devices will have Android on machines that were really bought to run Windows."

Not Android. And certainly not both.

"There's really no clear sign that the consumer benefits from this approach, and in fact they really lose, as they've now got a Windows device with precious storage space consumed by an Android install of dubious value," Miller wrote on his blog. "If the consumer really wanted an Android device, they're in the opposite conundrum."

In the interview today, Miller went further, predicting that the dual-OS hardware would deliver "a really bad customer experience" and calling them "two-headed devices."

From all reports, neither Microsoft or Google is happy about the project. That makes sense, said Miller, since a split-personality device gives customers the impression that neither company has a satisfactory OS, and that to make one, OEMs have to offer both.

The reality is more mundane, Miller said, echoing other analysts who have commented on the concept. "This is hedging on the part of OEMs," Miller said. "They're trying to make sure they have money on red and black."

The dual-OS brainstorm was triggered by the realization that, for OEMs and Intel, Microsoft was less the pure partner it once was, and now both a competitor and collaborator.

"Microsoft is now a partner and a competitor with me," said Miller, taking the role of an OEM. "Why shouldn't I be a partner and a competitor with them?"

Friction between Microsoft and OEMs has increased since mid-2012, when the former announced it would compete with the latter in the device business, and introduced its own Surface tablet line to make the point. The struggles of Windows 8, and its inability to turn around the slump in personal computer shipments — due more to encroaching tablets than anything — have not helped the relationships.

While somewhat similar initiatives have been put into play before, this is by far the most significant, Miller agreed. "We've never seen this broad of a buzz before," said Miller of the talk of OEMs straying from Windows.


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