Some say Microsoft should have taken Windows Phone’s OS and slap it on a tablet instead of taking the current Windows RT approach. And some say Microsoft should scrap Windows RT and use Windows 8 on tablets since RT comes with many restrictions, especially in Desktop mode. And then there are those who think completely outside of the box that came up with a different opinion, an opinion that may highly be true.
Windows RT is a massive milestone for Microsoft. Getting Windows running on ARM based devices is a leap in the future of Windows and computing in general. Microsoft was successful in porting and running Windows on thin and low power sipping hardware, making Windows extremely portable and mobile like never before. That’s what makes Windows RT so unique and of high interest to Microsoft, because we all know that the future (and almost the present) is mobile and touch ready devices.
Microsoft knew, a few years back, that they needed to re-enter the mobile market, but Windows wasn’t mobile and touch friendly at the time (Windows 7) and their Windows Mobile OS was outdated and had almost no market share and even that didn’t fit well as a tablet OS when compared to the competition (iOS and Android). They had to start from scratch, but a difficult decision had to be made.
Microsoft always wanted A “Windows Everywhere” world but knew it would take lots of time and money to make it happen. They had to make a choice:
- Assemble a team that worked day and night on a single unified Windows experience on both phones and tablets.
- Or, assemble two teams. One team worked on creating a “touch first” interface module for Windows to compete in the tablet market. And, another team worked on a brand new lightweight OS that competes in the smartphone market.
They knew the first option will take much longer to execute since they will be targeting a single OS to two markets; tablets and smartphones. But it will certainly allow developers to code once and release to both platforms as well as have a consistent UI experience across all devices.
The second option seemed more feasible in order to act quickly. Both teams have a specific market audience and requirements, and a quick V1 product can be released once those requirements are met. This way, they would still hit both markets but with the burden of having two mobile operating systems with different APIs. So while the Windows team were working on the new modern interface for Windows 8, another team was working on Windows Phone 7/8.
But the reality is that Microsoft never neglected or forgot about their main goal; Windows Everywhere. A unified OS that targeted all desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. While Windows 8 was considered the OS for desktops & laptops, Windows RT for tablets and Windows Phone for smartphones, Microsoft (in my opinion) still pursued their main goal internally, and that was the reason why Windows RT was born to be Microsoft’s risky attempt to fulfill their “Windows Everywhere” dream.
What made me come to this realization is a comment I read by a user called cool8man on Mary Jo Foley’s article (title: Why Microsoft isn’t going to dump Windows RT):
RT runs across multiple ARM chips, WP8 only runs on Qualcomm. RT runs almost all Windows 8 apps, WP8 runs no Windows 8 apps. RT runs the full versions of Office, WP8 runs mobile versions. RT has advanced print drivers, WP8 can’t print. RT has IE11 with Flash integrated & unlimited tabs, WP8 has IE10 with no Flash and only 6 tabs. RT has side by side multitasking, [WP8] does not. In a few months RT will have more apps than WP8 despite a 2 year head start for Windows Phone. RT has a full suite of Bing service apps while WP8 has a pared down Bing Hub. RT is already in 8.1 preview while WP8.1 is so far behind schedule it is pushed back to 2014.
Windows RT is already ahead of Windows Phone when it comes to delivering the next OS update as well as compatibility with new hardware and screen sizes/resolutions. While Windows Phone serves its purpose (to run on high and low end smartphones), it still just falls in one single market and therefore will always have its own API and associated maintenance and costs. But Windows RT also works on high and low end hardware, on a spectrum of screen sizes, is able to run all Windows Store apps and apparently it can also run the entire Office suite all while managing to stay running on battery for a full day.
So what does all that mean? It means that Microsoft might have already been working on a plan to merge Windows Phone into Windows RT, and therefore have Windows RT act as the core of Windows running on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Windows RT is the “Windows Everywhere” dream becoming a reality. A consistent and unified OS experience across all devices.
There is another point worth mentioning which may act as further proof that Microsoft is indeed moving in that direction. Windows Store apps have a “snap” view mode, where the app can run on either the left or right side of your screen alongside of another Windows Store app (or even Desktop, which is also considered an “app”). If you look into the dimensions of an app in snap view you would realize that it’s the same required (at least width wise) dimensions for apps to run in Windows Phone. In other words, snap view is the view you’d see if the app was running on a Windows Phone screen. Therefore, if Windows Phone OS was to be replaced by Windows RT, current and future Windows Store apps will most likely be compatible with current and future Windows Phone (or Windows RT) smartphone screens and will adjust accordingly based on how the developer programmed it (this is simply managed by the Visual State Manager in Windows RT’s API).
Of course, having a single OS to rule them all is a massive task for Microsoft and may have sounded as a futuristic concept for the average consumer today, and that alone could have been another reason why Microsoft staged the implementation through several OS iterations that individually targeted different markets. But all I can say today is that the time has come for Microsoft to cleanup and consolidate its current three operating systems and make their ”Windows Everywhere” dream a reality.
Why can’t you simply play nice? I understand the power and prestige behind being unique but seriously, it’s becoming extremely frustrating.
I want to thank you, IE, for automatically trying to block pop-ups, but when I tell you that it’s OK to allow a pop-up to open please DO NOT refresh the whole page forcing me to redo that whole workflow that lead to opening that pop-up. Chrome simply opens that pop-up instantly when I allow it. Please, do not be different in this case.
OK, so let’s assume that it’s fine to hit “Debug” after pressing F12 to debug, why do you still have to refresh the page? Now I have to remember exactly the workflow that lead to the issue that I am trying to debug and hope that I can replicate it because for some twisted odd reason you had to refresh the page to be able to debug any code after I already hit F12 AND clicked on “Debug”. Chrome doesn’t (and never did) refresh the page to allow me to debug.
These are only few reasons why it gets so difficult to defend you, IE. I sure hope by the time you reach version 11 that some of these problems will be cleared, although I won’t be shocked if you stayed the same and insisted on being “unique”.
I’ve always been interested in developing for Windows 8 but I also felt that the SDK is still in its infancy. If you look at ASP.NET now and try to partially compare it to Windows 8′s SDK it’s clear than Microsoft still has a long road ahead to make it simpler and faster to develop for.
That being said, I’m currently playing around with the SDK trying to develop an app for a project I’m working on at work. I’d love to be able to test what I have so far on a Windows 8 tablet though. I’m not sure if it’s possible to, for example, deploy the app to a Surface RT/Pro for testing purposes. I’d hate to think that I can only test my Windows 8 app on my non-touch laptop.
I really hope XAML’s syntax gets a lot cleaner in future versions. Currently it just looks like a big pile of confusing XML mess (to the untrained eye I guess).
People who buy a Surface RT or any of the available Windows RT tablets think that it should run and install whatever programs they used before on other Windows devices. But as we all know, this isn’t the case at all. Windows RT only allows Office to run in Desktop which is already preinstalled. Other than that you’re out of luck which clearly adds more confusion to the consumer.
That leads me to ask the following question: Why did Microsoft even slap on a ‘Windows’ label on Windows RT if it’s not the Windows that most people know of? Now, I know exactly what Microsoft is going after with Windows RT tablets, they are mainly consuming devices that are competitors to iPad and Android. That’s the market they’re after.
Windows RT is simply the modern UI with a Desktop ‘app’ that only runs Office. And like I said before in an earlier post, the inclusion of Desktop in Windows RT is one of the main reasons behind the consumer confusion around what exactly does this Windows RT really offer compared to many other Windows 8 hybrids which run the ‘real’ Windows (in the average consumer’s mind). Therefore, the position of Windows RT with what Microsoft advertised it as was awkward, confusing and out of place, not to mention that it costs as much as an iPad (especially Surface RT).
I’m really looking forward to what Microsoft will be doing to clear this mess, especially after their Surface RT was a major flop.
If you look at what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8, they’re actually (for once) doing something great when it comes to providing built-in app updates. Those updates are all going through the Windows Store, which means there is no need to wait for Microsoft to push a major OS update in order to update those built-in app. So apps like Mail, Calendar, People, Music, Videos all get updated often through Windows Store.
On the other hand, when it comes to Windows Phone 8, this becomes a different story. Apparently, all built-in apps get updated with every major OS update, which happens once in a blue moon. This is another indication that when it comes to the OS architecture, Windows Phone 8 (in its current iteration) isn’t even close to what Microsoft is trying to achieve with their ‘Windows Everywhere’ concept and sharing the same Windows kernel. So in the case of Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Phone, you won’t see it getting updated with fixes or additional HTML 5 support any time soon until there is a OS update. Now, why is this the case? Why can’t those apps (which are in a way separate from the core OS) get updated more often directly through Windows Phone Store? The bigger question is why didn’t anyone at Microsoft suggest that in their meetings?
That being said, I’ve always felt Windows Phone 8′s team didn’t have much collaboration or meetings or talks (if any) with Windows 8′s team. Both OS interfaces (at least on the modern UI side) seem to handle things differently. There is no sense of consistency when you move from Windows Phone to Windows 8. Yes, there is that familiarity feeling but once you’re knee deep you realize they’re oceans apart.
I hope there is more in store that what was released and previewed in Windows 8.1, cause that might be an indication that Windows Phone 8.1 may not meet most people’s high expectation.
I always asked myself why Microsoft was so technical is naming their Windows RT edition of Windows. We all know it looks and functions the same as Windows 8, so why not just call it as it is; Windows 8. Not to mention the ‘Windows 8′ label doesn’t give any clue to what it offers. So instead of slapping confusing and potential-buyer-deterring labels, use three easy to remember and easy to compare and easy to differential labels:
- Windows 8 Tablet Edition: It’s simply the modern Windows 8 interface without Desktop mode. Why include Desktop if the user won’t be able to install or run anything else besides the pre-installed Office suite? And since we all know Office suite will eventually be available as modern apps, this is more reason to completely remove Desktop from this edition.
- Windows 8 Standard Edition: This is basically the current offering of Windows 8 (not the Pro edition). If you think about it, Windows 7 never came out as Windows 7, even the home edition was called Windows 7 Home. Heck, there was even a Windows 7 Basic edition. So why didn’t Microsoft clarify this by calling it Windows 8 Home or Windows 8 Standard like Windows 7 Home? I prefer the ‘Standard’ label since many small businesses are actually using the Home edition in their office therefore it makes sense to replace the ‘Home’ label with ‘Standard’ for general use.
- Windows 8 Professional Edition: This is, obviously, the current offering of Windows 8 Pro.
Of course, there is also the Windows 8 Enterprise edition but I am currently just covering the operating systems that an average consumer would use.
In a nutshell, if you’re using the Windows 8 Tablet edition, then you’ll be only using the modern UI and there is no Desktop mode which means you will only be able to install and run Windows Store apps. If you’re using the Windows 8 Standard edition, then you’re going to have what the Tablet edition offers plus Desktop mode that gives you the ability to install and run any desktop app you desire. If you’re using the Windows 8 Professional edition, then you’re going to have what the Standard edition offers plus joining corporate or school domains, gives you access to Remote Desktop and provides enhanced data protection.
Easy as pie. Now why couldn’t Microsoft think of that?