One of the big changes in Microsoft's recent reorg is the merging of the traditional Windows business with Windows Phone. While Microsoft has long promised a "common app platform" between the two, the company has placed Terry Myerson, former Windows Phone chief, in charge of the newly formed operating systems group. Myerson took to the stage during Microsoft's financial analysts meeting yesterday to detail his thoughts on the future of Windows RT and a promise of common apps and developer tools across Windows and Windows Phone.
"All of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices."
Myerson says Microsoft is organizing its OS groups around three key beliefs: commonality, the cloud, and tailored experiences for devices. "The first of those is that we really should have one silicon interface for all of our devices," says Myerson. "We should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices." The promise of all apps available across all devices is one that Microsoft has merely hinted at previously, without committing to specifics. While Myerson didn't extend further, it's clear Microsoft is finally working on ensuring a Windows Phone app could run on a Windows 8 tablet in the same way that an iPhone app can run on an iPad.
"The second belief was that all of our devices are becoming more cloud-powered," explains Myerson. "So whether we're branding them Windows or Xbox, we really need one core service enabling all of our devices." This core service sounds like the same "service-enabled shell" that Steve Ballmer has discussed previously, and one that Bing will likely play a huge role in. The third belief is that while Microsoft is using a common Live Tiles interface across Windows, Xbox, and Windows Phone, the experience needs to be tailored per device. "We want to facilitate the creation of a common, a familiar experience across all of those devices, but a fundamentally tailored and unique experience for each device," says Myerson.
While these are all promises for the future of Windows, Microsoft had big plans for its Windows RT operating system before it debuted last year. A "no compromise" experience across multiple manufacturers was promised, but a year on and there's little sign of any future Windows RT devices from manufacturers. Samsung has dropped out, Nvidia isn't impressed, and it looks like Nokia might be the only brave ally alongside Microsoft's upcoming Surface 2. While Microsoft has previously defended RT, Myerson didn't address the lack of Windows RT devices from PC manufacturers, but he did provide hints at Microsoft's vision for the future of ARM-powered Windows devices.
"And as phones extend into tablets, expect us to see many more ARM tablets, Windows ARM tablets in the future."
"The ARM devices in particular in phones have incredible share given their battery life and the connectivity options available with the system-on-a-chip ecosystem," says Myerson. "Windows RT was our first ARM tablet. And as phones extend into tablets, expect us to see many more ARM tablets, Windows ARM tablets in the future." Nokia's 6-inch Lumia 1520, expected to be unveiled next month, will likely be the first example of Windows Phone extending into larger devices. It appears that Microsoft sees the future of RT in phones, but it's not immediately clear how Windows Phone and Windows RT will merge, or when. On the subject of progression overall with Windows, Myerson notes that the company is focused on executing quickly. "We have a very clear vision of what we want to get done, and we're moving very fast."