When we saw Microsoft running Windows 8 on an ARM chip we speculated that we were looking at the future of Windows Phones. And by that, I mean that if you can get Windows light enough to fit run effectively on a $25 system on a chip then you can really start to think about having a core OS that you can tailor the UI to across different uses.
It seems like that’s where Microsoft is headed but the total integration is slated for Windows 9/the next release of Xbox 360 and the then version of Windows Phones. At WPC Andy Lees sais “We won’t have an ecosystem for PCs, and one for phones, and one for tablets — they’ll all come together.” He does this while showing this image:
Yeah, we’re talking Office, Live, Bing, Zune, Xbox, Skype and IE (plus the cloud of course) across a desktop, laptop, tablet, slate eReader, phone, music player and tv. Not sure why they left cars out but whatever. The notion is that the software itself doesn’t need to be bifurcated into little segments here. You have a core OS that has a variable UI that can be implemented where needed (similar to how Windows 7 has the Starter edition for hardware that’s less capable and Aero is disabled for example, but obviously on a grander scale).
According to This Is My Next Microsoft is looking at 2015/2016 as being the unifying year. In fact, they may even ditch the brand name “Windows” as a part of this unified new OS. The fact that Microsoft wants a unified OS has been known for some time. We’re now at the point where you can actually see this happening. And don’t dismiss this as a little thing.
Think about what Apple is doing. They have a PC OS and a mobile OS. Android is only a mobile OS that they are trying to rig into a full OS. That’s a novel approach but if you can get the legacy support and capabilities of a full OS that’s flexible enough to put anywhere that’s clearly a better option.
Clearly the one thing that would change is the software because you wouldn’t want a touch based game on your Xbox. But that’s missing the point. The same core technologies (XNA, XAML, etc) will be in all of the form factors so it’s merely a question of developers working on the best UI based on the use and they won’t need to rewrite code to make it work for various OSes. Lots of great things here. Of course, the clock is against them but I see where they’re headed and it’s simply awesome. I think they pull this off. WP7 starts to take off late this year and Windows 8 will be huge – no doubt about that. They’ll be back at the top in no time.