Microsoft currently ships Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows Phone software on a variety of devices, but it’s heading towards a future where just a single version of Windows will exist. Speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference last week, Microsoft’s head of devices, Julie Larson-Green, hinted strongly that the software giant is finally working to merge its core operating systems. "We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We're not going to have three," says Larson-Green.
A single Windows world is where Microsoft is heading
The comments follow a similar message delivered by Windows chief Terry Myerson, who sees phones as the future of Windows RT. Microsoft is initially working towards building a single app store for Windows and Windows Phone. The two operating systems’ applications are separated by two differing stores, and Microsoft started taking the first steps to unify them recently with a simplified developer-registration process. Other improvements are expected in the coming months as Microsoft continues to tweak Windows 8.1 and ship its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update. "We do think there's a world where there is a more mobile operating system that doesn't have the risks to battery life, or the risks to security. But it also comes at the cost of flexibility," explains Larson-Green. "So we believe in that vision and that direction and we're continuing down that path."
While Microsoft continues to merge its Windows operating systems further, Larson-Green hinted at wearable computing as an important phase for the company. "So sensors are going to become a big part of how you think about things," says Larson-Green. Microsoft is rumored to be testing a smartwatch with a 1.5-inch display and Surface connector. With the Nokia acquisition that work could potentially intensify as the Finnish smartphone maker has created its own smartwatch concept. Microsoft is also rumored to be working on Google Glass-like eyewear.
Describing sensors that alert you when a bus is running late or remind you to complete daily exercise, Larson-Green says Microsoft can bring together sensors and software in new ways. "Just as the mouse was an invention, touch was an invention, there will be the next new way to interact", explains Larson-Green. "And that's why we've been focusing on natural user interface for a while, working on that."