Will We See the Debut of Dual OS Mobile Phones This Year?
iOS and Android dominate the mobile operating system world with very high market shares. Microsoft is continuing to make small advances in both usage and the number of applications, but its Windows Phone usage numbers are still in single digits, hovering at around 3 percent. However, Microsoft is pursuing all possible strategies to bag the seat as the third dominant mobile operating system.
Their latest strategy in this drive is exploring the possibility of partnering with Android handset makers to build devices that boot up with two mobile operating systems, giving users the option at run time to choose which one they want.
Dual mobile OSes built on the underlying concept of virtualization is not new. Organizations such as VMware have been promoting this for quite some time. With professional organizations increasingly encouraging employees to bring their own devices to work, dual boot OSes bring advantages such as the convenience of an integrated experience in one device and secured professional data and content access.
What is new about Microsoft’s strategy is that the company is trying to strike a deal with Android handset makers to offer this dual boot option to further strengthen its OS market share, essentially with the hope of having original equipment manufacturers create platform-agnostic phones. HTC is one of the handset makers Microsoft is said to be talking to. Microsoft’s years of experience dual booting PCs may come in handy here—if not at a technical level, then at least at a business level.
Renowned blogger Mary Jo Foley, who has been covering the technology industry for more than thirty years, with a specific focus on Microsoft, recently wrote about Microsoft’s attempt to work on a dual boot OS, questioning its value. She talks about the more dependable revenue streams that Microsoft has with Android, including its patent suits, and how this move does not make much sense despite its aggressive push to increase its very low market acceptance numbers. In the meantime, players such as Intel are also said to be working with Microsoft and Google in building the new generation of PCs with a focus on dual OSes.
From a mobile software development standpoint, this move will pose new opportunities. Rather than purely focusing on mobile app development and testing, software engineers will have more opportunity to work on mobile implementations at an OS level.
Specifically from a tester’s scope of operations, testing for performance, compatibility and coexistence, security, and a seamless end user experience will become increasingly important to validate and verify if the dual mobile OS strategy sees the light of the day. Also, if such phones do enter the marketplace, overall performance of the dual boot implementation will become an important test in checklists that are used to test and rate mobile phones.