Intel confirmed that it will provide processors to personal computer and tablet makers that support both Windows 8.1 and Android, the two operating systems from fierce rivals Microsoft and Google.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich mentioned the initiative, which he named "Dual OS" on Monday during an hourlong keynote presentation at the International CES trade show, which runs through Friday in Las Vegas.
"Our [OEM] customers wanted more [than Windows]," Krzanich said. "We wanted devices that can do both [Windows and Android]. There are times when you want Windows, times when you want Android. We wanted more choice: Windows for some usage, Android for others."
Later, Krzanich touted the project as, "The world's first dual OS system with both Windows and Android," and claimed, "You don't have to make a choice going forward. You can have both."
He didn't discuss technical details of the two-OS implementation, but some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have already shown devices at the massive trade show. Asian OEM Asus, for instance, has introduced its Transformer Book Duet TD300, a $599 convertible notebook-tablet powered by an Intel Core i7 — one of the chips from the Haswell architectural line — and switches between Windows 8.1 and Android within seconds after an on-screen button is touched, just as Krzanich demonstrated. The Duet is to ship in March.
Several "white box" Chinese vendors, which already crank out cut-rate Android tablets, touted upcoming Android-plus-Windows tablets at CES, some of which can be booted into either OS, much as Apple's Boot Camp lets users launch Windows or OS X, others that switch between the two on the fly.
Krzanich's confirmation of Dual OS came several weeks after analysts predicted the initiative would be unveiled at CES, and said the move by OEMs and Intel represented a rebellion against Windows, which has struggled to win over users since its 2012 launch.
Much of the commentary on Dual OS — before and after Krzanich's keynote — was dismissive of the concept, and the analysts who earlier revealed the project were cautious about its chances, saying that OEMs had both obstacles to surmount and must make the right choices to convince consumers and businesses that they needed a device able to run both operating systems.
"There are a lot of compatibility issues," said Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies in an interview. "[The Android apps] will be sandboxed to some degree, but how many will actually work is the question."
"It will all depend on how OEMs implement this," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, who added that it appeared the computer makers will have several choices of how their devices manage the change from one OS, say Windows 8.1, to the other, and back.
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