CEO Satya Nadella said Tuesday that the computing giant has started work on unifying parts of its various Windows operating systems. But before anyone gets too excited about an across-the-board standardization effort, be aware that it won't be that simple.
Going forward, Microsoft engineering groups will be restructured to work on systems that work in both desktop and cloud-based environments. They also will be working on establishing common ground between consumer products and products aimed at enterprise customers.
For example, the engineers who work on OneDrive and OneDrive for Business will no longer work separately. A similar scenario might be in the works for the Outlook and Exchange groups and the teams working on Skype and Lync.
Nadella talked about the effort while briefing analysts following a company earnings update.
"We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes," Nadella told reporters during a conference call.
The initiative to unify developer platforms would mean Microsoft is going in a direction different from Apple and Google, both of which have separate strategies for app development on laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices. Apple uses Mac OS X and iOS and Google uses Chrome and Android.
Nadella said he wanted to develop a single operating system that would adapt its layout and controls to numerous environments, including phone, tablet, PC or game console, in the hope that the company becomes more nimble when it comes to updates and app development.
Flexibility is Key
Windows RT, the edition of Windows 8 operating system designed for mobile devices, might be one of the OSes ripe for reconfiguring. During his conference call, Nadella said three existing versions of Windows would share common elements for use in phones, tablets and PCs, and the company's Xbox gaming system. This was consistent with earlier announcements about "Universal Windows Apps" that are said to be compatible across all platforms.
"One of beauties of the Universal Windows App is it aggregates for the first time for us all of our Windows volume," Nadella said.
Nadella stopped short of saying that Microsoft was planning a one-size-fits-all OS. Instead, he said, he wants to free developers to build a single app that can run unmodified on Windows devices with screens of every size. For now, a single team is poised to work on establishing more and deeper links between Windows for PCs, Windows Phone and the Xbox OS. All are based on the Windows NT software core.
The idea more resembles the strategy of another OS developer, Canonical, whose Ubuntu system powers both phones and desktops. Canonical has said that with its Linux-based OS, a handset can function as a low-power desktop PC when plugged into a monitor and connected to a mouse.
Ideally, Nadella said, future Microsoft products will be designed to work with a variety of devices, in much the same manner as recent versions of Office applications for iOS and Android.
Posted: 2014-07-26 @ 10:04pm PT
While a unified OS might have benefit for Microsoft, almost no Windows users give a crap. We just want an OS that stays the hell out of the way and lets us do our work.
Posted: 2014-07-24 @ 7:05pm PT