When geeks hear the word “dual-boot,” the notion is often mesmerizing. For instance, Apple MacBook owners can run Windows 7 in addition to Mac OS X with the help of BootCamp. I happen to have Ubuntu, a flavor of Linux, configured on my Dell XPS as well. When it comes to tablets, companies such as ViewSonic are trying to offer two operating systems out of the box: the ViewPad 10 comes with both Android and Windows 7. From a technical perspective, it might sound great since buyers can switch between the powerful capabilities of a desktop and the simplicity of a lightweight mobile interface. Unfortunately, the idea is disastrous for the average consumer.
Failure of Quick Boot OS on PCs
Just a few years ago, new laptops began shipping with proprietary minimal “fast boot” operating system since loading a full operating system was taking too much time and battery life was a victim. Although quite limited, the additional software provided users quick access to basic features such as listening to music, browsing photos, or watching movies. Unfortunately, these “fast boot” solutions were often poorly designed and were merely covering up the true problem: the inefficiencies of a desktop OS.
Within a matter of time, Microsoft rolled out Windows 7 which scaled better for laptops than Windows Vista. Although Apple never experimented with an additional minimal operating system, even their latest generation of laptops began claiming hours of runtime on a single charge. It was a nail in the coffin for “quick boot” operating systems.
Complication of Dual-Boot on Tablets
In the world of tablets, ViewSonic is trying to treat Android as one of those “fast boot” operating systems when it is a perfectly capable standalone solution. While Apple is already on their second-generation iPad 2, these competitors are still struggling to figure out what consumers want. There are probably a handful of people who need a dual-booting tablet, but it is simply not appropriate for the mass market. Manufacturers have barely figured out how to get Windows 7 running smoothly on a slate and Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb is still in its infancy for tablets. In fact, this dual-booting ViewPad 10 still runs on the smart phone version of Android 2.2 Froyo, which makes matters even worse.
Just imagine having to explain why the USB ports for a flash drive only work on Windows 7 or why a certain app only works in Android. The duplicated web browsing experiences and other overlaps are yet another problem. Hardware designed specifically for a single platform works best since it is efficient and easy to use. I just hope that other companies behind Windows 7 slates do not try bundling Android as a “quick boot” solution for better sales. It does consumers no favors and expecting them to understand two entirely different operating systems is just foolish.