In the world according to Apple, there are OS X-based Macs and iOS-based iPads and, as it stands now in the era of disparate kitchen appliances, never the twain shall meet, even if they tend to borrow features from each other. Point the finger of blame at synthetic pointing devices that offer precision at the expense of intimacy. Google has played it a little looser with its two-pronged operating system strategy. It has reserved Chrome OS for such traditionally touch-deficient computing form factors as desktops and notebooks while allowing Android to support keyboards and mice. However, as Switched On noted nearly a year ago, we’ve seen few pure clamshells that use Android.
Microsoft, however, has thrown these distinctions out the window, or at least with Windows. The latest release of its PC operating system seeks to dissolve the interface differences between laptops and tablets. It will appear on both types of devices as well as touch-enabled all-in-ones and desktops. But Windows 8 — with its tablet-friendly face and ability to run traditional productivity applications — will also turn more PC manufacturer attention toward portable devices that live somewhere between a completely unadorned tablet and a notebook. We can expect two main kinds of these hybrids.