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Nadella reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to a unified operating system

Windows 8 devices

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed during an earnings call yesterday that the software giant will merge all major versions of Windows into a unified operating system.

Nadella said that Microsoft is set to "streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system. This means one operating system that covers all screen sizes."

Microsoft is in process of a reorganization that sees teams working on different versions of Windows merging into a single unit. Nadella said that the shuffle would allow Microsoft to scale and create new services better. "In the past we had multiple teams working on different versions of Windows. Now we have one team with a common architecture. This allows us to scale, create Universal Windows Apps."

The change does not mean that Microsoft will stop selling different versions of Windows. Nadella said that there will still be several flavours available to choose for end-users, but that the underlying architecture between the versions would be the same. Nadella said that another major change with the upcoming version of Windows is the unification of stores, commerce and developer platforms.

A unified operating system certainly makes sense given Microsoft's diverse offerings, although it remains to be seen how the software giant would manage to offer a customized experience to users on each platform. Nadella mentioned that additional details will be forthcoming in the coming months.

What do you guys think of the change? What are you looking forward to in a unified version of Windows?

Source: Microsoft

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Reader comments

Nadella reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to a unified operating system

176 Comments

not to speak for anyone, but hopefully the reshuffle puts the Windows Phone Design Team in charge of Windows, and not the other way around. The start screen and Modern UI was not executed well in Windows for PCs and tablets. There is a lot less coherence and, in my view, that has been a big part of the criticism for Windows 8/8.1. As well as slow adoption. As far as I know when Windows Phone was first released it was was praised for its coherence, design and usability. The same was NOT said for Windows 8/8.1

Amen! That has been my exact criticism from day 1 with Windows 8...and the more they bring back parts of the Desktop UI the worse it is. I firmly believe they can make a full metro experience that is both touch and mouse friendly for Windows.

That's a bad way of seeing things... This unified Windows OS will become the successor for every Windows Version... And it's a great thing to happen.

Not really, you just said exactly what he said: RIP WP. The successor replaces the current. I'm excited that MS is trying to implement this, but it doesn't change the current state.

I'm fairly certain the article said the architecture would change with various iterations available. Don't you think it may look the same even though it will differs behind the scene??

While things may change as we currently know then, I can't see them making drastic changes that would utterly change how the phone works. You only have so many options as far as a UI is concerned because you have only do much real estate on a phone. Ultimately, things will have to stay the same on the phone. I'm more worried about what happens to Windows. Just like apps that have different versions and many times end up catering to the lowest common denominator, in scared something similar will happen to desktop Windows and that something still get gimped, making the next Windows a massive change in comparison to any changes that will happen with the Windows Phone experience.

The article says in plain language that there WILL BE different versions of Windows, still the variation but that the architecture and stores will be the same. It means that apps you loved on the phone will be on your tablet and fav modern Windows apps on your phone. That's a good thing if it works well.

Windows, WindowsRT, Windows Phone OS, and the Windows 8 variant in Xbox One  all have the same WinNT kernel right now, though perhaps slightly different versions. I think what Microsoft plans to do is move all versions of windows up to the same version of the WinNT kernel, a unified .NET framework, and a unified XAML (there's one for each Windows variant, plus one for Silverlight Web). Right now we can build PCLs (Portable Class Libraries) that run on the different Windows platforms, but you still need to build way more custom application UI code than should be necessary.

What MSFT intend is to all allow devs to write one Modern app that runs unmodified across WP, WinRT and Windows. Nadella isn't (currently) concerned with one OS that runs across different devices.

I'm prety sure this will bring more developers to the platform, as they are having their apps on PCs, tablets and phones. It would be easier to update the system too.

It'll be still compatible with existing apps since the kernal is still the same. It's basically an upgrade like Windows 8.1

I'd totally buy a atom phone that you pop into a dock and becomes a pc! And it would be totally possible because X86 already runs RT apps!

x86 wasn't efficient enough for tablets a few years ago.  Now we have SP3 and Dell Venue Pro 8" tablets that have more power and similar battery life and size to competing ARM products.  I don't think it will be more than a few years before x86 is competitive with ARM at the phone level.

Not really. The app compatability is limited to the stuff you find in the app store, so a game like Starcraft will not be cross platform compatible out of tbe box. This is just the next generation of universal apps.

The kernel being the same is one thing. But these apps currently behave very differently between the two o/s. For instance, which OneDrive app will we be using? The desktop? The mobile? Both? Or a new one? There are different repercussions in each scenario.
Put those questions to each app in both stores. It'll be interesting to see how they plan to do it.

They could have opened up the Metro API more to apps. But I could find true, that MS could go full on metro that clicking an icon e.g IE could bring up the Metro app. But the Metro would be full packed like the desktop IE

Desktop apps aren't designed to work in a small form factor, and likewise the mobile apps aren't designed to work on a large form factor. Compare the WPCentral apps for instance, they are very different - and there's a reason for that. It's likely that all apps will have to be at least partially re-written to be compatible with this scenario.

Web designers and developers manage to make responsive designs without major issue, so it isn't rocket science.

Existing apps that have not already been coded as "unified" will require some very minor editing, but nothing grand.  These apps will then be able to work on the "Windows One" platform on all devices.  This is no different than the edits needed when Windows XP became Window ME or Windows Vista.  Some edits were needed to programs and drivers.  But since Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT Update 1 are all already so similar, only minor edits will be needed to run the current apps in Windows One.

I think this is probably the BEST thing Microsoft could have done.  App developers will flock to Windows One as the market share will be higher than iOS and Android combined!  This may also explain why McLaren is being put on the back burner.  I think Microsoft wants their next big device to have Windows One on it.

Interesting thought on McLaren, I wonder if MS can flip this shiz by next year? People already biatching about no high end new phone..which maybe the three we have: 1520, 930, and Icon are actually good enough for 8.1...maybe no need" for new high end phone..idk.

I love RT. Virus free win! No legacy installs dragging us down! If you don't need to install desktop apps on a tablet, it makes sense to eliminate it and not have the security and reliability hole. The more mature metro apps become the less the desktop will be needed.

The name RT most probably won't stay, put the arm tablets will be upgraded. ARM tablets will still run Windows, that won't change, so what you people mean by ditching is beyond me.

One thing is to announce, the other is to actually implement also. It may take MS two years at their speed. They should have been here this year. They don't have a flag ship phone in their pocket for summer/fall release, they aren't on par with their apps (xbox music on both platforms is heavily bugged; Skype same thing)..man they have so much work to do, otherwise by the end of the year their share market will decrease.

They have been working on this long time ago, that has been hinted since Joley Larson was at the stage and before 8.1

Msft may be slow but their performance making new features is ouuuuuuuuutstandingggggggggg.... Take an eg of the upgrade of wp7 to mango to wp8 and now 8.1 can u count the features u get within 4 years of their mobile business... Just compare with apple and android versions evolved in four years... Every year Apple added two or three features to there ios... And fanboy will jump into the store and spend their whole savings... Android's upgradation is more pathetic... I cant see any changes untill any one pointed out in their os version from 2.3 to 4.0 to 4.2 and now 4.4
Hats off msft... Im very happy with wp8.1

My thoughts exactly and often when I read what people write complaining about Ms being late to the show. I mean, which competitor is making such a complex move right now?

 

MS doesn't have two years and they know it. It will be by next April...perhaps not fully matured, but mature enough to successfully go to market.

Now since this is a major overhaul, MSFT needs to come up with a new name to the operating system. Windows is not cool anymore.
 

If you think that the name of the OS you use affects your "coolness," why aren't you on iOS? Isn't that where all the cool kids go? xD

Not really, desktop software needs a different hardware architecture. Bit the system will be smart enough to adapt itself in any device and optimized.

It is actually a very plausible scenario...it would be cool if you could just dock your phone and it becomes a full-blown PC for use on a monitor.

the type of unification that MS is different from Android's and IOS's, and MUCH harder by far. It's natural that'll take longer. it's the same direction as Ubuntu touch OS

They have done 90% of it with Universal Apps.  And the kernel is the same. So I would say "now" we're already effectively there.  

One Core = One Windows? (OneDrive as primary cloud storage, One Office bundled)? Produced by Microsoft, One Microsoft Way.

Or how about Windows One, 1.0? :)

I hope not. The Xbox One has already been mocked for its name. "Windows 9" or "Windows 2015" would be better.

I think there is a very good chance the Windows name might be dropped altogether as it's images has been tarneshed. Maybe just Microsoft One when referring to the OS. They could maintain "One" for specifics like OneDrive, etc. "One" would be the identifier as "Windows" is now. Just replace "Windows" with "One". This would be the perfect opportunity for MS to do this.

I hope they don't go back to using year numbers. Microsoft often releases a new version of products at the end of the year, making the year-version product look obsolete just 2-3 months later.

They should have done it since RT came out, windows phone shouldn't have exist, but a smartphone friendly windows RT. They wouldn't have lost that many customers. Anyways, it would be great, if even xbox gets compatible...

8 GB Minimum, typically 16 GB with recovery, hyernation & bloatware

http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/05/surface-rt-storage-figures/

That means the Minimum RT Phone should rather have the current high end specs + SD card
e.g. 32GB + SD for another 32, 64, 128, (256) G for documents
Any FUTURE RT could have more, O2 in Germany had Lumia 1020 with 64 GB in 2013
http://www.wpcentral.com/germany-get-your-hands-lumia-1020-64gb-today

2015 something like that is even easier
Would you buy an RT phone? 

This has been the objective all along... It's just easier to say than to do. If they manage to actually create those really Universal apps, that'll be already good enough. Although I'd like to have the Windows desktop scaled down into my phone (as WM sort of was), I don't think it's easy to create a version of Windows that can be a great experience in an i7 PC and a phone at the same time.

I just wanna confirm that, will the existing WP 8.1 should get Updated to next version in near future or not

No way they are going to do that cuz they just made Lumia 630 with 512mb ram and they are concentrating on low end for windows phone so they are going to support 512 Mb ram devices too.
You know even full windows 8.1 can run on 1gb ram devices so why can't the next windows phone on 512 Mb ram devices that's like kicking more than half windows phone users out.

Has nothing to do with the RAM...Everything About the Chip Architecture.

What you may see is the present low end devices becoming a future "Dumb Phone" so to speak. With High End Phones running on a mini broadwell type of chip.

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

Repeating the sentiment above: they should be there already.

Didn't they say Windows Phone 8 already use the same core as Windows 8 ? Now where did that bring us currently ? Doesn't look that much different.

Microsoft need to get more "tell me when it's ready" treatment from high profile journalists, just to let them know that announcing something is not enough. They need to deliver products more than financial reports.

Imagine if mosy of the current hardwares are not compatible OMG it wooild definitely be time to leave microsoft for sure

The reason why Wp7 devices couldn't be updated was because of the fact that the kernal was COMPLETELY different. updatng the phone to WP8 would result flashing the phone. But still even if they did do that? what would they update the kernal to?

 

PS: MS stated that the NT kernal is here to stay, and that the upgrade problem won't happen in a long time, while support for the phone is 3 years, the kernal is the same

There are many other reasons why they might not do it for all existing hardware. Hardware limitations being one. We have servers that will happily run Windows 2012, but won't let you install 2012R2 (which is only a slightly newer version of the same NT kernel).
I wouldn't rule it out so easily.

Hmmmm.... could be the real reason high end phones like the McLaren has been halted as well as the rumored Surface Mini.

I bet they all now are being designed for a new chip. Goodbye ARM

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

I was just thinking that myself.  McLaren and the next Surface Pro (One?) will have a new Intel chip that will be much faster and get longer batter life than ARM and will run full Windows One and support devices that utilized the new 3D Touch technology.  Now THAT would be ground-breaking!   Hey, I can dream!  :-)

While the goal is an admirable one. I worry that this may mean more compromise to the WP experience in the medium term. As a recent example, moving the HUBs to standalone apps probably sounded like an excellent management decision but so far it's proved to be a rather messy one. Will they ever be as good as they were before? It's difficult to say, but adding more bloat from a desktop OS may not be what we need.

Exactly what I was thinking. I fear there will never be a fluid transition to a unified operating system. We don't even have a touch version of Office yet... two years after the release of Windows 8. And that's Microsoft's most important piece of software. Instagram is still a beta version after, what, 1 year? Flipboard for Windows Phone is not here. I really like the idea of the unified system but hope that Microsoft finally speeds up.

Desktop bloat isn't coming anywhere. When they mention windows, they mean the modernUI element of windows which already shares core with WP since Universal apps. What this news means is that now Xbox and Tablets are joining in too in the fun. That universal apps will be able to run in windows(modern UI), ARM tablets, XBox and windows phone with one download/purchase. That also means easy work for developers since they won't have to rewrite apps for different versions but only once and they will be able to effectively run and optimized on all these platforms through Microsoft's SDKs.

He said 'one OS for all screen sizes'. When I refer to the Desktop OS I'm referring to the full OS that runs on a desktop, not necessarily the windows desktop component. Even if you consider Windows RT, there's bloat in there that a phone doesn't need. Likewise there's stuff optimised for the phone that isn't needed for desktops/tablets. One size fits all tends to equate to larger & slower. I'm not saying it can't be done, but in the medium term it's likely not to be as slick as advertised, especially given recent evidence.

Removing the api's from the OS was and still is a bad idea. Yes, you can update apps quicker but relying on third party api's means the integration is just as bad as Android and iOS.

Coming Winter 2015...

Windows Voltron.

5 OSes  merge to form an unstoppable computational force, battling the evil forces of A.P.P.L.E. and the dastardly LIN-UX!

 

Do we not have this today? Is not windows phone core based on windows8 ? Brick back Xbox originals if you want me to support Xbox video!

Nope, won't happen. Xbox One has 2 operating systems running in parallel - whats called "Games OS" and the very Windows Modern UI like Tile interface. The bit of the Xbox One software that is getting "unified" with all other versions of Windows is the Tile Interface bit. The Games OS will remain separate, so Xbox One games that run on the Games OS will still be exclusive to the Xbox One, you won't be able to run them on other flavours of Windows without them being ported.

I think this would be game charger that Microsoft should do fast and should be implemented perfectly by Microsoft. I think the new CEO is very much aware now that in order for Windows to once again regain it's status as the OS for all. This time though not just for your computer but through tablet and windowsphone as well.

This will help windows gain more consumers as a large number of people would like to sync as much as they can with all their other devices.. As windows is the leading OS in PCs, unification of OS might attract a large number of people to buy windows phone..

Same app for Windows 8.1 PC and WP 8.1 - I am loving it . Same facebook app , same twitter app , even Now Inpic for Windows 8.1 PC brought full featured Instagram client. I had been waiting such thing one app for all windows device since last 7 years. Finally it came into reality. I am really happy now. Even Xbox games now I can play both in Windows 8.1 PC and WP 8.1 . Keep going Microsoft

RT is merging with Windows Phone, makes sense as both run on ARM. It would be interesting to see which takes precedence RT or WP when merged.

It supposed to be called Windows Phone as said months ago. But I guess it would be RT+WP mixure with WP name.

The Unification Would Only Be With The Windows Store Apps I Imagine. There would be a Problem With ARM or SOC Chip Devices.

Another Way To Look At It... IT Could Mean The Death of ARM...Thoughts?

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

Sorry for the lame question... But will this now mean that you will be able to install and run .exe files on your handheld device / phone?

Only if they start putting an x86 capable processor like baytrail or better yet fanless broadwell into phones could you thin run a .exe. It can not be done with the current phone chips

Posted via Windows Phone Central App

Well RT, W8, WP and even the X1 run the NT Kernel so they all have a common core. In that respect Windows is already offered in a variety of flavours :P.

I think unifying their collection of device strategies in to one, which in turn will cause the least stress on Devs is a great step forward for the company. One thing I can't wait for is the Windows team to get to work on it and make it a reality .......... Oh yeah, they've all been laid off haven't they Nadella ¬¬

5 years from now you won't need a PC at all. Your phone will be powerful enough and running the same os anyway, either that or everyone will buy a virtual desktop that you can access from your phone. Fold out screen for movies and wireless HDMI. Gotta love technology

One platform with so many derivatives in reality becomes multiple platforms.

Either that or it becomes a jack of all trades - master of none. 

Microsoft is losing $100 per Lumia phone shipped.  Their market share is slipping not gaining in Smartphones.  They really need to cut the hardware business before it really becomes a major financial drain.

I guess you didn't read Microsoft yearly earnings report there making bank wp ain't going anyware does this unification acarr you are you a android or apple fan boy and know this could be a game changer so now your here bashing Microsoft.

Since Windows 9 will be able to run apps in desktop windows, it would be nice if it could run Windows Phone apps. They wouldn't need to be rewritten to run nicely on a bigger screen since they could be opened in a small window without the option to go full screen!

About fucking time. I thought that was their plan with changing the kernal of WP8/Windows8. But it took them 3 years to effectively execute it. And I hope they put out a finished product this time and not "there wasn't enough time so we missed these features that will come with future updates and those updates end up taking 2 years."
And if that doesn't bring developers to windows platform, I don't know what will.

They should also allow people to buy traditional desktop app... To avoid piracy .. This is only in my opinion.. :)

The Universal app model will never succeed so long as there are major functional differences between the implementations. For example, the idiots who designed the WinPRT API require developers to handle the possibility that your app will be terminated if you call the SelectFile API (the AndContinue shit). It's insane and dramatically affects application design. If freaking Win95 twenty years ago could run Word and have a fully functional OpenFile dialog in only 4 MB of system RAM, you'd think that the WinPRT designers could manage something similar with a device containing 128X the system RAM (minimum WinPhone has 512 MB).

When I see implementation issues like the AndContinue sh*t, I lose all hope that the SDEs currently at MSFT will be able to produce a viable OS API. They're both incompetent and completely out of touch with application design. Nadella needs to find out who designed the WinPRT AndContinue sh*t and FIRE THEM then find out who approved that design and FIRE THEM too.

 

Unfortunately Threshold WP will be on ALL WP 8 devices

I would rather have Atom based new RT Phone series with 2GB RAM 32GB + SD (Lumia 1520 Atom)
 

Let's just make a few things clear here: a common core does not mean everything will look the same on different devices. That just would not work on devices with different input methods, screen sizes, maybe no screens on some etc.

A common core/kernel simply means that the engine that executes commands will be the same, and that API's therefore can be unified. The actual look and feel is provided by the UI, which is a graphical layer on top of this. Think of web pages, they look very differently but share the same underlying architecure.

The challenge for the common core is that it needs to contain enough functionality to not necessitate too much additional logic on top of it, but also not so much that it gets too big and unwieldy for devices with limited specs.

Modern apps look the same, whether on RT or full Windows. Nadella has said MSFT are unifying the experience across all screen sizes (that includes phones).

So are you telling me the same operating system bits installed on my PC is what would be installed in my cellphone as well ?

Absolutely NOT !!!
Only the Modern UI .appx will have the same "Business Logic" => Universal Apps
and they still need the UI adaptation at some level.
The Kernel calls for a Developer will be 100% compatible

.exe will not run on an ARM CPU (Qualcomm SnapDragon 200, 400, 600, 800 series or older S4)

You didn't answer his question. Why should Windows Phone contain the same OS bits as Windows desktop or tablet for that matter? Phone OS should take no more then 1.5GB.

This is a horrible idea. There is a reason to have a scaled-down OS for mobile devices. They have less storage and less overall requirements and different GUI. This is how Apple does with with iOS and OS X. You will never see Apple merge them together.