Microsoft recently received an important patent entitled "Multi-OS (operating system) boot via mobile device" relating to operating systems and how they run on mobile devices. At the time, the obvious connection was a mobile device that can dual boot between Windows and Android, but of course this technology doesn't require a patent. Instead, let's take a deeper look at United States Patent number 9,000,173 and what differentiates it from running either Android or Windows 10 on a single device. Here, the trick is that either the user or the device selects the operating system (OS) necessary for the task in mind. This in turn can be tuned for better battery life, device responsiveness and even improved security. By way of examples, rather than a smartphone device booting into full Windows, it may first launch a cut down operating system with the ability to handle an emergency call. Another use is that when the camera button is depressed with the smartphone off, rather than Windows 10 launching, the device instead calls a camera-centric OS, which is quicker to boot and uses fewer resources (and therefore battery power) to take pictures.
The ability to tune the device depending on what is necessary will have advantages for enterprise, or big business, scenarios too – here, the bootloader will only run part of an operating system when the user activates the device, but whereby the device is called upon to connect to enterprise applications and services, additional parts of the operating system may need to be loaded for the extra security provisioning. By only using the parts of Windows that are required, this will save resources and ultimately battery life. Users can disable parts of the system depending on use, location, date and time: this could be a great way for system administration to ensure that workers are not accessing their corporate email outside of official office time, which is illegal in some parts of the world. Microsoft's patent includes the provision for allowing the necessary parts of the operating system to be available via cloud services rather than stored on the device. This has important implications for keeping the device up to date: when the device needs to run a new part of the OS, it can go online and keep things up to date.
And now for the interesting part, where a couple of weeks ago we reported how Microsoft were still considering running Android applications via Windows 10. One of the missing pieces has just been put into the jigsaw: this patent means that Microsoft could be considering running Android OS on mobile hardware and this in turn could be used to provide support for Android applications. It means that a user won't need to boot the device into Android in order to run their favorite Android application but instead, Windows figures out what parts of Android it needs to run in order to run the application. Better yet when it comes to compatibility, but the Windows device could conceivably be downloaded or streamed from the cloud.
We are still a long way from seeing how or even if Microsoft are going to bundle Android application compatibility into Windows 10, but this new patent shows that Microsoft are certainly thinking outside of the established box.