Hybrid Windows/Android Devices Taking Off in 2014

With traditional computers taking up a shrinking portion of consumer demand, forward-thinking manufacturers are likely to debut a wide range of devices in early 2014 that can switch between Microsoft's Windows and Google's Android mobile operating system.

Several reports suggest that this year's International CES event (which most of us still call the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas will showcase such hybrid devices that could usher out laptops and desktops as we knew them in the past two decades. Many already make laptops with touchscreens that snap off to be handily used as tablets.

Intel Leads The Way

"The messaging being ushered out for 2014 is that audiences have a choice in OS for their mobile devices and their PCs," ABI research mobile device analyst Jeff Orr told us.

"Perhaps most surprising is which company is leading this charge: Intel," Orr said. "While considered late to enter the mobile device market as it defended its PC turf, Intel today offers tablet designs that can load either Android or Windows, or in some cases both system software platforms." He cited recent announcements by Asus and Samsung as examples.

The shift comes as Microsoft struggles to blend the old and the new, reacting to the shrinking demand for PCs with its Surface tablets running Windows 8 or Windows RT. But some traditional PC users are frustrated with the touch-oriented Windows 8.

"In the traditional PC space of desktops and notebook computers, the market is MicrosoftEUs to lose," Orr said.

"There have always been alternatives when it comes to PC operating systems, though the market reaction has been to go with what is known -- Windows. The influence of the smartphone -- a highly personalized and customized device that is carried on your person --provides an installed base greater than PCs," he said.

Orr noted that the mobile ecosystem of...

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