Well, proprietary in the sense that NVIDIA, Broadcom, Canon, Sanyo, etc., etc. are bad corporate citizens that typically only provide binary drivers for their hardware. They consider these drivers to be part of their intellectual property and choose to obscure their "secrets" by only making them available in the form of a binary blob. It is not possible to unwind these drivers, to view, audit, or modify them, so it is impossible to either update them, or adapt them for custom applications. Therefore, if the manufacturer only chooses to release a driver for Windows, for example, then Mac, Linux, BSD and other users are screwed. This is why open source (the code is freely available and can be modified) drivers and operating systems are so important and closed source projects should be shunned (I'm lookin' at you Microsoft!).
Like many new technologies, it takes a while for open source developers to catch up and reverse engineer what the binary drivers are doing. But, if you'll have a look at the System76 site, you'll find new high spec laptops with dual GPUs, the so called NVIDIA Optimus technology, that are working perfectly on Ubuntu Linux. Soon this technology will be incorporated into most open source operating systems and support for these dual graphics configurations will be as trivial as support for keyboards and mice.
Early adopters and users of more obscure hardware should indeed heed your warning, however, and never assume that any given piece of hardware will perform, or can be made to perform in a manner that they desire, no matter how much "common sense" this would make. They must always read and understand the fine print before spending any money.
Another valid point that you make is that laptops, much like tablets and cell phones, are only typically supported by the manufacturer for a very brief period of time. This is another area where open source usually shines. Open source operating systems will offer to install either the latest binary drivers, or open source drivers. While the binary driver may have long ago been abandoned by the hardware manufacturer, the reverse engineered open source drivers will almost certainly be undergoing constant refinement and improvement.
Rather than throwing away those four and five year old laptops, that have been abandoned by the manufacturer, folks should consider installing Linux on them. They'll have a new lease on life and run better than ever.
Not knowing the specific model of your DV6, I can't say for sure how well it is supported by Linux. I saw one account that indicated that a user had his machine switching between GPUs by using the fglrx driver. I saw another account of it working by recompiling the kernel with the vga_switcheroo flag enabled and I also saw several sad stories of failure, but these were clustered around 2011 to 2012 time period. With the march of time, your hardware may very well be supported out of the, but I expect you'll have to try it to be sure.