We only have four distinct mobile operating systems to choose from today, each of which have their own strengths and weaknesses about them. While they all share the same concept of revolving their entire ecosystem around a single app store, each one still has distinct features and user interfaces that sets them apart from each other. Probably the two most contrasting platforms out of the four comes down to Android and Windows Phone. Android is a huge, open-platform operating system that has a huge application selection, more features than you could imagine, and the ability to customize the software from head-to-toe. Windows Phone, on the other hand, is an extremely minimalist design with a significantly smaller pool of applications to pick from. These two platforms are worlds apart.
Despite that, it seems that they might end up working together on the same piece of hardware. How? Dual-booting.
Dual-booting software on a smartphone is, like many topics in this industry, a highly critical subject on its own. What I want to know is whether dual-booting (specifically between Windows Phone and Android, given that's what we're potentially looking at sometime here in the future) is even a practical solution for what is trying to be accomplished. Wait... what is trying to be accomplished here?
This article is about to get all kinds of 90's up in here, because we need to stop and rewind for a second.
Simply put, nobody really knows what is trying to be accomplished. All we know is that Microsoft is taking somewhat desperate measures in order to ensure that Windows Phone is able to dual-boot with Android on certain devices. According to this article from The Verge, Microsoft has already come to an agreement with Indian manfuacturer Karbonn Mobile to produce these dual-booting phones, but the train doesn't stop there. In addition, Microsoft has also been in talks with HTC to make a similar deal - with Microsoft even offering to "cut or elimiate the license fee to make the idea more attractive" to HTC.
But the actual reason behind the dual-boot? For right now, it's really up to your wildest imagination. Is it a sign of Microsoft giving up, or are they simply trying to embrace Android as a frenemy? But I digress; that's a topic to delve deeper into another day. Now that we know that don't really know anything, let's get back to the subject at hand.
Dual-booting phones is something that I used to be a huge fan of. I probably jumped the gun on a previous article I had written a while ago stating that I thought the idea of a dual-booting platform would be a good one. I was interested in Windows Phone at the time, and I already liked Android - why not put both in the same phone? Then I wouldn't have to decide which one I want to use. Even after using Windows Phone and consequently learning that I have a habit of switching to Android for leisurely smartphone activities, you would think that a dual-boot of the two platforms would be a perfect solution; however, at this point I don't feel that way at all. I think it's a huge hassle to go between two platforms all the time. Even if it was on the same piece of hardware, I have my doubts that it would make things any better or easier - at least for your average smartphone user.
I could see this being beneficial to developers who have been looking to expand out to Windows Phone. A dual-booting smartphone would probably make testing new applications at least a little easier by having all the resources they need in one single device. On the other hand, for your average user there probably wouldn't be much benefit to it at all. You'll have two different sets of applications to worry about. Another concern of mine is wondering how phone data will interact with each other. Will all messages, photos, and call history show up across both platforms, or will they remain separate? If not, then I fear that the entire idea is way too complex.
I don't think this will be a huge thing in the future; it seems like a very niche idea. But even as a niche, and as somebody who currently uses both platforms, it doesn't sound like that great of an idea to me anymore. Perhaps if the idea behind Nokia X had been executed better I might be on board with the whole "elements of Windows mixed with Android" thing, but right now it just seems like there is a whole lot of effort to push the two together when in all actuality they are probably just better off separated at this point... and probably forever.
Readers, what are your thoughts on dual-booting Android and Windows Phone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!