back to article Microsoft rolls out One Big Windows strategy

Is Microsoft preparing one Windows operating system for PCs, tablets, and smartphones? Reading between the lines of what Microsoft execs told 15,000 of the company's partners during their annual conference event this week, it appears that a unified Windows is indeed on the way. But it's unclear how far it will go. The company …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. adnim

    Good news...

    for hackers.

    Taking into account Microsoft's track record on security.

    In the land of MS where the shadows lie.

    One codez to rule them all, One hack to find them,

    One codez to own them all and in the darkness bind them.

    One exploit owns every Windows powered device, interesting times ahead indeed.

  2. goats in pajamas

    Just like...


    Oh no, I've given the game away.

  3. Robert E A Harvey rule them all

    Has anyone noticed the similarity between 'Balmer' and 'Balrog'?

    1. Hardcastle the ancient

      been trolled

      I can only imagine that the downvote came from a microshft troll.

      Gramatically people have either noticed or not noticed what you suggest (it is far-fetched but so amusing I may use it as his name in future). Neither option deserves a demerit, so I think you have been shilled.

  4. stim


    cool! i love windows, this will be awesome :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I love windows too

      The sort that you find in walls, that is.

      1. Hardcastle the ancient

        silicon life forms

        I assume the windows are to let us see the trolls coming!

        1. stim

          no troll

          i am actually being serious - Windows is what i use day in day out, i don't touch anything else - i genuinely do think it's gonna be really good! Not trolling in the slightest!

          If i were trolling i would say something like "well Lion is gonna make Win8 look pathetic etc etc"


          1. Martin Owens


            Being honest about your loved-one is important. If you're just going to be uncritical then no one is really going to be interested in what you have to say.

            I use Ubuntu, but I have an entire bag of issues we have, some being worked on, others being ignored. But I might be able to get into the details of the Ubuntu community because it's all done out in the open, unlike Microsoft where you would have no idea what's happening except from the press releases. Which might be a little biased.

            1. stim


              "If you're just going to be uncritical then no one is really going to be interested in what you have to say."

              So you only post on forums to be critical - ALL the time?! What a sad life you must lead...

          2. Robert E A Harvey


            I do think the NT2000, XP, and W8 are remarkably successful bits of software. Astonishingly so, really, given the amount of under-the-bonnet expected from dumb users (defrag, aunty-virus, aunty-malware, emptying temporary directories).

            And, once you have learned the wrinkles and the buttons not to press, people have got a whole lot of stuff done with it that they might never have done before.

            But, at the end of the day, it is analogous to a spanner. If you need a spanner, and the spanner you have fits the nut, it is a good spanner. I just get pi**ed off having to buy the same size spanner over and over again. It's not as thought I've worn it out!

            But, yes, it is a remarkably good spanner and fits a lot of nuts....

            1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

              @Robert E A Harvey

              I had an Aunty Virus, strange lady, always ill....alright I'm going!

  5. Hardcastle the ancient


    There is an old Victorian hymn that goes "tell me the old,old story".

    Heard it all before. Bollocks then, Bollocks now. Can't be true, platforms too different.

    Just a fresh crop of baby-faced marketing droids being let up the garden path 'cos they all think the world was created yesterday.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: yawn

      "Just a fresh crop of baby-faced marketing droids being let up the garden path 'cos they all think the world was created yesterday."

      Yes, they may still have been in short pants when Modular Windows was announced two decades ago. That went a long way... ahem!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    One crock of shite to bind them all

    1. Jim in Hayward

      And don't forget all the others...

      From C++ to C# to .Net

      Microsoft is wildly grasping at straws to keep their monopoly power relevant.

  7. Joe Montana

    Sounds like Linux..

    A common kernel, and then different userlands to suit different purposes... That sounds very much like the approach currently taken by Linux...

    And it's about damn time too, products like windows mobile and windows ce are very offputting for customers, they're branded as windows which implies compatibility.

    On the other hand, Linux benefits from the majority of its applications coming with source code, which makes porting to different architectures relatively easy... Windows apps are typically closed source, so you would have to convince vendors to compile for a number of different platforms, something that a lot of them simply won't do.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Not quite like Linux

      The Linux kernel is substantially different for each target platform to the extent that while they all have a common lineage they are effectively differnet kernels: if you compare the Linux on the smallest embedded systems to that on your typical desktop system it's barely recognisable, even if you restrict comparisons just to the kernel. This persists even among full size architectures, where there are substantial differences both in implementation and even at times feature sets - compare the x86 and SPARC kernels for example.

      What they seem to be hinting at here is something more like NetBSD, where you have a very clearly defined hardware abstraction layer and virtually identical kernels on top of it. It's no surprise that the NetBSD team were able to port to AMD64, for example, in a matter of days when it took the far larger Linux community months: there was so much less work to do. Drivers and so on could be carried over verbatim without so much as tweaking.

      Of course, Microsoft being Microsoft I don't see this happening. Anyone remember how NT was supposed to be based on a microkernel for example? In that case why is driver digning so important? That kind of restructuring needs work and would inevitably mean a new driver model at least. They may go for something more along the Linux line where code is common where practical but there is no underlying infrastructure to make that almost everything. However, I suspect what it really means is yet another unconvincing layer slapped on top of the existing code bases, that makes the disparate architectures appear almost similar if you look at them from the right direction and under dim light.

    2. Number6


      One of the things that Nokia did try to get right was to make the Qt environment cross-platform. I've only played with it on x86-class machines, but I'm aware that it has stuff in it that's supposed to be phone-friendly too. It'll even compile for Windows and OS X, although as mentioned above, either the developer will need to release the source code or be capable of compiling and testing for different platforms.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Quite True

        Yeah, I'd go with that, a good cross platform framework is very handy, and Qt certainly fits the bill.

        I've written a small desktop twitter client as a hobby project and it compiles without modification on Windows, Linux and OS X (and NetBSD) due to being written entirely in Qt, and I've not found anything whilst writing it I wasn't able to do entirely within the framework.

        I did also once look briefly at the mobile side of things and was able to bring up a very simple reading only twitter client on a Symbian emulator in about 20 minutes with Qt due to being able to reuse a good chunk of the desktop back end code. From a developer point of view this is great.

        @not quite like linux

        Good point, NetBSD is a very good example of how to do low level cross platform stuff well. However to be fair to MS, whilst it's not a true micro kernel, NT isn't that far off, they did initially try and put as much stuff in the user space as possible however the first version was quite slow due to having much of the gfx layer in user space as I remember. They are also working towards putting much more of this right too, the sound layer in Win 7 runs as much in user space as possible I think. It's probably more historic reasons that have resulted in the proliferation of kernel mode drivers, which is something driver signing is aiming to address arguably.

        Also, the cited benefit of NetBSD, the HAL, is present in NT too, it did start life as a cross platform OS.

        I've always thought that the underlying NT stuff was perhaps quite a good little OS struggling to get out from under the cruft of Windows piled upon it.

  8. dynjo

    LIke MS needs *another* development framework

    After already alienating Windows Forms, WPF and Silverlight developers with HTML5 announcements.

    Ballmer has clearly forgotten developers, developers, developers.

  9. Arctic fox

    "What profiteth a man if his reach doth not exceed his grasp?"

    If it really is the case that MS *are* concretely aiming to unify Windows across *all* platforms then it is both risky (very) and logical (very). They are aiming very high indeed but (to recoin an old phrase) "the devil is in the implementation". In order for this to work then Win8's conventional GUI and its touch UI are going to have to be a first class user experience. Each of the interfaces will have to be at least as good as the best of each type that are on the market today on its own or other operating systems. Furthermore, *both* the x86 and the ARM versions will have to combine being a proper full song with choruses os with being as lean and mean with battery use as possible. I am not saying they *cannot* do it but it is a hell of a task they are setting themselves. If they fail then the rise of the tablets (getting more powerful for the same power usage, almost by the day) will see the beginning of the demise in the consumer electronics market of a Microsoft confined to a steadily decreasing (in the long term) conventional pc market. If they get it right they will still be entering a market with established competitors in a context very different from their traditional dominance of the desktop computer market. In that sense Ballmer is right when he says that Win8 is a gamble for MS because even if they get it right with Win8 and the os *is* a major cross-platform success the long term disruption of the market place will likely mean that their capacity to dominate a monolithic market will, quite likely, be gone for ever (all to the good IMHO, it is not healthy for one company to dominate any market however much one might like this or that product from them). That does not mean that even *if* they get it right they won't earn handsomely on it, they likely will - just that it will not be a re-run of the nineties/early noughties.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Good morning!

    As i said months ago, its not even about inter OS application compatibility, at the most basic level the end user will have a significant attachment to an OS where its used across multiple platforms. you buy a windows PC, if it acts and looks like a mobile phone then you will be 'more likely' to go for that as well, same for tablets, its one of the main reasons Windows on the desktop has such a dominace, essentially each OS is the same, users can use it at work, or home, a friends house on different versions and its not too hard to work out where things are.

    Jo public will love this and as long as MS doesnt chop the balls of the OS (ie please leave some power user functions/access in it) then Many of us will like it too.

  11. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Who really cares?

    Most App devs don't and that is clearly true from the lack of apps in their shop.

    So what if you have made is a single unified system.

    Your leader (S Balmer) has basically pulled the rug from under you here. His statement about 'going from very small to ... very small' is IMHO akin to 'Doing a Ratner' ( and see the bit about his infamous speech).

    The MS Fanboi's I know love their HTC 'Big Dumb Button' phones but honestly, they have missed the market and should do the decent thing, give up WP7 etc and buy RIM.

    1. stim

      They're Tiles...

      these big dumb buttons are going to be the basis of the future of windows - far from being dumb they will actually show, at a quick glance, a whole wealth of information - which means the user doesn't have to actually enter an app to see what's happening - kinda makes everything else look dumb all of a sudden, eh?!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "actually enter an app to see what's happening"

        So you think the app's not running ?

        1. stim


          i didnt make a reference to the app running or not, it was a point that the tiles are not 'big dumb buttons' but actually quite useful.

          1. Robert E A Harvey


            Yes, I think the idea of a big fat icon with a little titchy live screen of some sort is useful. And, by any definition of the word, not Dumb.

            Not original, but useful. It has been done elsewhere.

            Bringing it to the lumpen proletariat may be both useful and original, and well done them.

            (they employ tens of thousands of clever programmers. I bet /most/ of the ideas are good. it's the corporate policies I object to most of all.)

            1. hplasm


              Lumpen proletriat deserve lumpen buttons.

      2. stim


        ooo 3 thumbs down already - are you iOS people gettin' well jel of the obviously far superior tiles!? =)

        1. hplasm


          A Balmerog and a Cave Troll... two for one!

      3. Tom Chiverton 1

        I call shrill

        So, no one else has widgets on their lock/home screen then ? This is something only MS has ?


  12. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Take 2 ?

    Wasn't this the original point of Windows ? One O/S on server, desktop, phone (Windows CE),embedded, etc ? Wasn't it alleged that this same O/S on all devices was borrowed from VMS ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      That would be "Windows NT"

      And as far as I can remember, "phone" and "embedded" weren't on the radar back then.

      But yes, if WinNT would have become what it should have become according to DreamSight[tm], everything from IBM boxes to desktop towers would now be running it. At a cost.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Windows Embedded never took off because it added a lot to the cost of anything using it and you didn't have the code to customise the OS.

      Where full blown Windows has been used you see a lot of failures. Asda self check out machines, railway station signs and so on.

      1. Daniel von Asmuth

        Embedded with Balmer

        Windows NT Embedded is still used by several big companies, while other embedded devices use CE. On the other side of the scale you get Windows 4 Supercomputers (more than 1 % market share) and the Azure Cloud. Will Windows 8 also run on the X Box 360?

  13. Nya

    How long?

    How long has it taken the Reg to notice this? Go back and install Quebec and figure out the choose Intel/ARM, choose GUI, choose API's on the Windows installer. MS pretty much painted it on a 50ft neon sign this was the direction.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: How long?

      "Go back and install Quebec"

      Who wants to do that? The Canadians haven't even finished their install yet!

  14. gerryg

    Another example of Microsoft innovation

    whereas, still playing catch-up are

    Linux - the kernel, runs on everything from a wristwatch through to a mainframe and the cloud, X Windows - on everything a bit larger than a wristwatch (cue, deluge of wristwatch evidence) KDE/Gnome - supported on everything from a mobile phone to a cluster

    They'll just have to try harder to catch up with the thought leaders

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Even so

      Are there any programs, other than perhaps some behind the scenes plumbing that you can, or even want to run on all those different systems.

      Even if you could port the Android version of "Angry Birds" to run on the K Computer at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science, would you even necessarily get a good user experience. I'm guessing the current No.1 supercomputer doesn't have a touch screen, an accelerometer, a magnemometer, a gps receiver, or any of the other things you tend to take for granted on a handheld device. It may however have a much larger screen, and possibly lots of them, and you might want to use those extra pixels to make the birds look even more angry.

      1. Robert E A Harvey
        Thumb Up

        >Even So

        >Are there any programs, other than perhaps some behind the scenes plumbing that you

        >can, or even want to run on all those different systems



        I run a programme to fetch BBC radio programmes on my router, linux desktop, file server, and have run it on a friends telly.

        On a research ship with Decca Radars I developed a perl script to parse out the test match scores from a BBC web page and merge them with NMEA data so they would scroll across the bottom of the radar. Developed it on a linux based workstation, and finally installed it on the embedded dish steering box for the satellite internet link. Probably still there, though I suppose that changes to the web page have broken it now.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: >Even So

          I would put ftp in the behind the scenes plumbing category, as it works behind the scenes to provide things to the file manager ui. Nevertheless, as far as I'm aware embedded devices have the cut down busybox version of ftp rather than the full version.

          As an emacs fan, I can't imagine why anyone would want to install vi anywhere. Having said that, on a touch screen device, you aren't going to want something designed to be used with only a keyboard when it is much easier to tap the relevant spot on the screen to do what you want. For that reason, I'm not going to be installing emacs on my Glalaxy S any time soon.

          With your BBC fetcher, you might have the same back end across all platforms, but the user interface to run it with a remote, a touch screen or a keyboard and mouse is likely to be different. As an example of a similar application, look at how podcast subscriptions are different on itunes for mac/windows vs itunes for idevices.

        2. MD Rackham

          Get Serious

          No one actually *wants* to run Vi.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @MD Rackham

            "No one actually *wants* to run Vi."

            a) it's "vi", not "Vi".

            2] I do nearly all of my serious typing in vi.

            Tres: ASCII is ASCII, when you boil it down to basics ...

          2. The Brave Sir Robin

            Oh yes they do

            I think vi is great. Fast, efficient and usable on console and remote console. It's excellent for quick editing of configuration files, writing short scripts and the like. I've been a vi user since 1985 with little motivation to change.

            1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


              EMACS is the one true editor!!!

              vi is venom incarnate


              1. Anonymous Coward

                @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

                "venom incarnate"?

                Mantas, Cronos and Abadon are back?!

                Altogether now!

                "Die Hard!

                Legions iron and steel!

                Die Hard!

                Men of war revealed!"

                *Sqeuee! Zanga zanga zanga! Widdly widdly! Dun Dun Dun!*

            2. Jay 2

              You can't use editors if they're not installed...

              W-a-y back in about 1994 when I was learning to be a sysadmin, it was drummed into me that using fancy (ahem) editors like EMACS was all well and good, but generally the only editor you could rely on actually being in a UNIX distro from the off was vi. The idea being that when things went bad you'd only have vi to use in single user whilst trying to bring a box back from the dead.

              As a result, I only use vi/vim for sysadmin type stuff. Never had a problem editing anything so far.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    "Our future at Microsoft is the ability to unify the ecosystems and the user experiences."

    Now we can have the same security holes and bugs on every MS toy!

  16. Volker Hett

    Not the first time

    They promised something like that with Windows CE and then with c# and .net and silverlight.

    We will see if they succeed this time.

  17. Maurice Verheesen
    IT Angle

    What will happen if they don't?

    You can also turn the question around. What will happen with MS if they don't move to a single platform?

    Everybody else has been doing it and some already have achieved this (Java, Linux, chrome/web-OS, LAMP stack, "cloud"). So it's about time MS did too.

    But the problem for MS is that they have to do an extremely large technical overhaul, whereas UNIX based kernels and OS'es just scale from small computers to extremely large super clusters. Those designs have the advantage that they can pick a kernel and choose from a number of api's (QT, Java, Python). Microsoft first has to figure out a new kernel design and then try to press all the different legacy Windows api's into a small platform and somehow make it all secure, that's more than just ambitious. And they have to do it all by themselves, while the competition applies open source software development to do the heavy lifting for all the generic stuff end users don't care about.

    If MS is smart, they design a new UNIX like kernel, make that open source, port the .NET platform to it and then let developers only use the .NET platform instead of all the legacy api's that still exists in Windows today. That way the applications for the OS will work in the "cloud", on small devices (with a .NET subset) and the OS can be easily ported by anyone to any chip. If they are not smart, well then they have not learned from their mistakes in the past and are in for a huge challenge.

    It is clear MS is choosing against general consensus for the alternative path, focussing on devices and single applications instead of RIA/"cloud" (like) applications that already offer the customer experience MS is talking about bringing to customers with their new platform in the future. Next to that, existing "cloud" applications brought via open standards, don't care about what device you are using them on, leaving the customer free to choose whatever device they like (Apple, ChromeOS, webOS, some cheap knockoff with a browser from China).

    It will be very interesting to see what philosophy will get the largest adoption in the next 20 years.

    1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

      Because every application can be writting in C#

      Except maybe, applications that start in less than 10 seconds? Or need to handle very large datasets efficiently? Or have plug-ins that you want to run across different run-time versions? The reason there are two layers in windows, Win32 and the CLR largely on top of that is that some application CAN'T be written in C#.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. JDX Gold badge

    Seems a good idea BUT

    Something so radically different from MS will surely take a couple of versions to get right... so we'll repeat the pattern of W8 being crap and W9 being what W8 was supposed to be?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mac OS and iOS share common core

    Quote: " With Apple, developers must write apps for either the iPad and iPhone or the Mac"

    This is only partly true. Mac OS and iOS share a common kernel and have a huge number of APIs in common. Much of the code that you write for one will easily work on the other.

    The critical difference is the presentation to the user, i.e. the user interface. This is where Apple encourages developers to take different routes, for the simple reason that you cannot use these devices in the same way.

    This 'strategy' from MS sounds like the bleeding obvious, and no more or less than anyone else is doing. The only question is, why has it taken them so long to realise that?

    1. Ian Davies


      The 'opinion' part of this article is mostly nonsense. Particularly the bit about Apple's OS strategy and how it works. Unless the author is seriously suggesting the same interface and presentation paradigms are going to be used on Windows Phone, Tablet, Desktop etc. then this "single OS strategy" of Microsoft's is going to end up looking very much like Apple's. Same core; different interface leverage according to device.

    2. Number6


      "This 'strategy' from MS sounds like the bleeding obvious,"

      In which case, expect to see them attempt to patent it. They'll probably succeed, too, given how well the USPTO appears to review for prior art.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    HTML5? I think not.

    "Silverlight has now been demoted by Microsoft as the preferred interface for PCs and devices on the web in favor of HTML5"

    I don't agree - Jupiter hopefully will be the convergence of WPF & Silverlight and possibly Silverlight mobile (all of which use XAML but different control libraries). *That's why* "Microsoft is planning a new application programming model for Windows 8 codenamed Jupiter, with an XAML/UI layer on top of Windows APIs and frameworks".

    The Jupiter engine may also be used to render HTML5 but if you seriously want to develop native apps in HTML then you are a masochist.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1


      What, again ? I see they're still trying to bring out The One True Language every 2 years, and expect you to rewrite everything in it.

      Let's not.

      1. Sentient

        C# is 10 years old.

        WTF Are you smoking?

        C# is 10 years old.

        It's now on version 4 and every version was an improvement of the previous.

        And you don't have to develop in C#, you can chose!

        C++, F#, VB(god forbid) chose whatever you want.

        And you don't have to rewrite anything. 15 years ago I wrote a small skinnable app using Win32 & C++. It still runs fine. If I wanted I could still write software like that.

        Anyway I haven't seen a new true language being promoted the last 10 years let alone every 2 please enlighten me.

        1. Zephyrus Spacebat

          RE: C# is 10 years old.

          "C++, F#, VB(god forbid) chose whatever you want."

          Don't be dissin VB man, it makes things easy! For example:

          KillersIPAddress = CSI.CoreFunctions.Trace.Person("generic_haxor").ToIP

          No wonder they always want to make GUIs in Visual Basic, the rest is done for you!

  21. Patrick 8

    Square holes, Triangle holes, Star shaped holes, Oval holes

    One old bloated round peg will fit them all.... don't mind the massive sledge, it just helps it fit better in your hole.

  22. jake Silver badge

    "One Big Windows"?

    How big is "Big"?

    Will I need 8 gigs to make a phone call?

    Gut feeling is "yes" ... Gotta keep up with Cupertino ... ::sighs::

  23. EzJ


    Why is it I always seem to be reading articles about what Microsoft WILL be doing? It would be nice if they actually just did half of what they say instead of telling us that they will be doing it.

  24. Peter 39


    Longhorn, Cairo etc etc. Microsoft has a history of reaching for it all. Have never delivered on it yet.

    So, tell me why it will be different this time. Don't spend time pointing out all the gleam and shine - we've had it all before. Instead, make a convincing argument for excellence of execution.

  25. itzman
    Thumb Down

    If they cant get a small operating system to work properly

    What chance have the got for a big one?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Midori Project

    This is in essence the Midori Project coming to maturity. MS talked about the kernel/core idea a few years back, this just strikes me as the speech that makes the project more a reality in terms of delivery.....maybe :)

  27. Anonymous Coward

    No way do I want those shitty Tiles on my desktop.

    And the tiles on the phone are a horrible, inefficient design statement.

    Can't help but think this strategy is just another example of Microsoft slavishly copying Apple.

    Monkey see, Monkey do.

    Fail, hopefully.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Slavishly copying Apple, by doing it differently... If you're already running Windows 7 (not WP7) the tiles are already on your desktop - the applications you pin onto the menu bar are effectively those tiles. The point of what MS is doing is that they are making an OS that can operate on a tablet or a PC. Apple however, have two OSes to do one job.

      The tiles also offer up information about their app, without having to bring up the window, so I can see on my phone, for instance what the weather is doing, if I've got any emails, when my next alarm will go off. It doesn't look fantastic on the phone, but it is very intuitive, almost everyone who has played with my WP7 has liked it after playing for a bit. Everyone I know who have gone from XP to 7 also really like 7.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Apple vs. Microsoft

        The biggest difference between them that I can see is... a grand unified plan.

        Apple, since Steve returned, makes announcements only when they have a product ready, and looking back, each announcement seems to follow more or less logically from the last, like they have an actual, long term plan.

        Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to announce whenever someone there(or elsewhere) has an idea, long before they have a product to show for it, and often, if/when the product is released, it's significantly different from what was originally announced. Looking back, it seems like each idea is hatched in a vacuum, with no long term plan tying it all together. (At least in this century.)

        At least, that's the way it looks to me.

        (And note; I'm no fan of either company, it just seems that Apple has its act together, and Microsoft doesn't.)

  28. WonkoTheSane

    @Joe Montana

    You're right. MS have missed all the boats.

    My Motorola phone runs Android = Linux

    My Sony Bluray & Amp both run Busybox = Linux

    My Toshiba TV runs Busybox = Linux

    My PCs & Laptop run Ubuntu = Linux

    My MP3 runs RockBox = Linux

    My SkyHD box runs Busybox = Linux (check Settings/Software/Details for 109 pages of GPL & BSD licences. Linus is mentioned by name.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're right

      Just perused the latest CPC flyer. Lowest cost netbook Acer Android. 9 tablets with Android, 1 with Win 7( twice the price.). No Win phones at all. As the young are all mastering Android phones, they'll go to Android computers. I'd give it 5 years. The US may be able to hold out as an Apple/MS stronghold, but with the current flurry of patent lawsuits, I understand that fewer developers are prepared to sell their software products in the US. This I believe, will lead long term, to US technical stagnation. If I am correct, the US market is only 10% of the world market for low cost smartphone/tablet products, so who is going to bother to make and sell to them except at a premium price? The US customer seems likely to be in for a rough time in purchasing power.

      I have yet to see a US TV which will record to a USB stick. Patents I presume. Be interested to hear why.

    2. Trib

      More boats.....

      My Samsung phone runs Windows Phone = Windows

      My desktop computer runs Windows 7 = Windows

      My MacBook Pro laptop run Windows 7 (mostly) = Windows

      My Windows Virtual PC emulator runs Windows XP and RedHat Enterprise 3!

      Okay, got a Linux in there somewhere.

    3. MD Rackham


      My PDP-8i runs TSS/8.

      So there.

    4. bazza Silver badge


      My MP3 runs RockBox = Rockbox (not Linux)

      SkyHD boxes do run Linux, but from what I hear they are annoyingly unreliable. Probably not Linux's fault, but it's not helping either. And it's not as if you can get in there and fix the bugs yourself easily.

      How's the fish bowl?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cutler's orginal idea

    It's taken many years, but Dave Cutler's original idea is finally becoming a reality.

    Cutler originally envisioned Windows NT to be portable across various CPU architectures. Only the low level kernel code, and some drivers, would need changing. But everything above it would be compiled once and "run anywhere" across all platforms.

    It was shot down because at the time the hardware was slow. But Dave tried to point out, with Moore's Law, within a couple CPU generations it would work. It would have worked around the time that Pentium Processors came out. But it was to late, by that time NT had be bastardized by making it backwards compatible with W95 programs, and things went downhill from there (IMHO).

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge


      AFAIK the big problem with multi-platform support on NT was largely around the drivers. The microkernel meant that supporting different architectures was pretty easy - and early NT releases for x86, MIPS and Alpha were synchronised. But "ISA" was a nightmare for the drivers as the rest of the hardware didn't have the abstraction necessary for easily porting. Put a cheap graphics card in an Alpha box and write your own driver from the documentation if you were lucky enough to have it. NT was never slow but I do recall some stuff being dropped into the kernel for later releases because x86 has such inefficient context switching. The MS toolchain made compiling and providing different versions of software for different architecture unnecessarily painful for both developers and users.

      The approach was vindicated initally by Next and later by BeOS which changed architectures three times in five years (Hobbit, Power and x86).

      To all the Linux fanbois out there who seem to think this article somehow vindicates the seemingly endless wars about the free-for-all approach, where are the GUI applications running on phones, tablets and desktops? GTK versus QT probably did as much as anything else to hold un*x back from the desktop because whatever the technical merits (and most of them are debatable) a non-unified desktop experience is going to confuse users. Then there is the libraries and userland shambles of debian, redhat, suse and the rest.

  30. Ben Bonsall

    been hinted at for ages...

    NT, minwin, midori, longhorn, the CLR, powershell... (in no real order :) ) Only a lot of internal fighting and a lot of internal ignoring has prevented it happening sooner. MS has known for 15 years at least what they needed to do, but if part of your business is raking in billions a year, an upstart project with high ideals but that needs 5 years of research is not going to change its direction, particularly if the billion dollar business has to start all over again

    MS would seriously have benefited from being split into at least two parts in the legal stuff in the 90s.

  31. James Woods


    I have windows Xp on the home computer and windows 7 on the laptop and phone.

    I would much rather have XP and the old windows mobile

    I have a new windows phone and it's a piece of crap. Not only does it not include even microsofts own remote desktop it's less customizable than a android (and that says alot).

    It crashes less than my android however you have to install Zune pc software to interact with it.

    Why doesn't microsoft roll itself backwards into things the people actually want.

    Remove the web browser from the operating system. Nobody wants to navigate their pc like it's a website. Get rid of the backends on non-servers. Joes random PC doesn't need to interact with itself to see how much space is used on a partition.

    Microsoft will continue to however do what it wants and that is reduce it's overall marketshare.

    I hate google but if they came out with an operating system for the home user I probably would be running it if it wasn't tied too much into chrome.

  32. petur

    Been there, don that... (sort of)

    IIRC, this is what the WIN32 API was all about... Granted, on CE it was a subset and the kernel was really poor, but remember what devices it was running on.

    My PDA could do most stuff I'm doing now, already 8 years ago: e-mail, browsing, contacts & calendar, ...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    here we go

    you know, perhaps just once it would be nice for a MS story to attract average users and not all the anti MS crap that usually follows. I mean, anyone who seems to post anything that even hints at a positive thought towards MS gets flamed an down voted, it does show a lot about the users on this website i suppose so wheres the door to the grown ups room?

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      @AC 19:19

      But most of us have been kicked in the knackers by M$ so many times that it still hurts.

      I've wasted years of my life learning API after API, and it is always useless next time round. I no longer give a stuff about what they do. They come up with really great things like that camera gadget that goes with an ex-box, and I just ignore it because I am sick to the back teeth of being treated like a mug. Only this week I got caught out because some VBA object in excel does /not/ do what it says in the programme's own help file. They never finish anything, it's all bodge-sell-discard with them and I am sick of it.

      Every damn thing I have learned about *nix still works, even fvwmcommand. There are things I learned in 1983 playing with Microsoft Xenix or in 1995 with Irix that still work in HP-UX . And Red Hat.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Robert E A Harvey

        And i completely appreciate that, its not perfect, im sure nothing they make is, im also quite sure that Apple and the open source community have other issues too.

        Nobody is saying they are perfect, but to slate them and hope that they fail is just childish. They are a corporate company with shareholders that’s sole aim is to make money. And despite their short comings they haven’t done too bad with that so its not all that bad, at the end of the day if any company out there could get you to give them cash for absolutely nothing at all they would, Apple is definitely the same, you think Linux operates without any form of financial income?

        If i try and explain Radhat or Ubuntu to my parents they would look at me as if i had just turned in to a giant leprechaun. But windows they pick up in seconds, its simple, its far from easy to program for as you pointed out but the end user, ie average Joe an Jane who uses it, ie the VAST majority of PC users, it just works, do we spend 1 night a month trying to fix things on it, yeah usually I do need to RD to their PC and fix it, but by an large they can use it almost without any training.

        All im saying is they [MS] don’t deserve to get so much abuse, if you want to think of it in another way, MS producing products that many of us consider rubbish actually keeps many others like us in a Job, and before anyone tarns me with being an MS fan boy im not, im a sensible adult that buys the best option for my needs, this particular PC im using is running Redhat, my Phone is a Windows Phone, i have an apple tablet (tho im starting to regret that!) and my media centre is Windows 7. If folk want to live with all this MS hate then fine, but realise that potentially you may be missing out on something that may benefit you because of your narrow mindedness

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Come again?

          "If i try and explain Radhat or Ubuntu to my parents they would look at me as if i had just turned in to a giant leprechaun"

          I've been obliged to install Ubuntu on countless PCs because their default Windows install has been rendered completely unusable on state-of -the-art machines.

          A good few of these have been for people well over sixty and they love it. Its simple, clean and does in fact just work without endless updates, defrags, virus scans and God alone knows what else.

          They shouldn't HAVE to spend nine-tenths their on-line life performing ritualistic housekeeping chores on a machine they use to browse the internet, send a few emails and write a few letters on with maybe doing a spot of financials on a spreadsheet (the more adventurous).

          Now they can also do their on-line banking without he horrible feeing they are about to be mugged any second.

          They ALL have said exactly this: how much more they prefer it over Windows.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            So rather than educate someone how to do things for themselves or rather how not to do something, you'd rather lock them up in to a system that they will very unlikely ever be able to use to its full extent and more importantly is humpteen times more complicated to deal with over a phone.

            I do see your logic, stick them in a system that they have very little possibility of buggering up an all is well, right up until that point where they dont understand that the new toy they just bought for there computer doesnt work or the cover disk from a magazine that looked really intresting didnt do anything.

            i dont know what people you have "helped" move to linux, or specifically Ubuntu of all things, or indeed how much of a choice they had, but my self and my staff deal with many individuals of various abilities and ages and generally speaking, almost everyone over a certain age, given the choice takes windows 7 over anything else.

            Thats not to say linux doesnt have its place, it does, it excels in may ways, but for novice users it does not, take a look at the support forums for many distros and you will see my point, many every day joes and janes asking for help to do something quite basic and they get slammed with "noob" and "read the files propperly"

            but this is all getting off topic, my original point is that the "windows" look and feel is very appealing to most of the general public and having that over a number of different platforms would be even more appealing, hell, as long as MS dont cock it up it might even make developers a bit more cash with cross platform compatibility. So I dont think it is justified to slate MS for doing something just because its them, some things are very good and i like the direction they are heading. (i hope there heading!)

            1. Miek

              @AC 2011-07-17 18:36

              FUD-ddy duddy.

          2. Erno Aho

            Windows doesn't "just work"

            My 80 years old father is using Kubuntu without any problems. Before I installed Kubuntu on his computer he had XP on it. In those days he used to call me almost every day because of some trouble with his computer.

            I can tell you that the number of "help desk" phone calls from my father are rarities now. Contrast to the windows time is huge!

            (K)ubuntu just works. Windows doesn't!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              Three things:

              1) Comparing Kubuntu, presumably a current version, with an OS that's around 10 years old is hardly a fair comparison.

              2) Do you actually expect people to believe that someone who couldn't work XP for more than a day, without having to call for help, can operate Kubuntu or any other OS without any problems?

              3) Are you a Linux expert who has setup Windows for someone and it didn't work, but magically when you setup the system you are an expert in, it worked fine? (Please note: You do not automatically know Windows because you know Linux.)

              (Joke Alert) Did he just stop using his computer when you put Kubuntu on it, because that's the only logical explanation of the lack of calls.

              1. Miek


                1) Considering some people prefer XP to windows 7 makes XP fair game for a comparison to a current release. In a way it is a compliment that XP is still so relevant to home users and particularly businesses.

                2) Totally

                3) I am both a Linux and windows expert and know that windows is far more trouble for users for many, many reasons.

                [joke alert] Perhaps he may have stopped using his computer -- he may have actually completed the task he set out to achieve.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @Erno Aho

              Im just going to leave the other comments to you post because frankly i think that AC hit the nail on the head, but just to add one quick thing.

              lets suppose you "80 year old" father pops down to your local computer store an picks up a nice new webcam, or perhaps a sparkely new joystick/rudder combo for his flight sim, or maybe even a new printer scanner.

              he will of course just be able to plug those it and they will work wont they?

      2. Sentient
        Thumb Up

        @Robert E A Harvey

        I feel your pain having it experienced it myself too. I would also prefer MS to support their own choices better eg. port SL to iOS & android. Luckily I hadn't had to deal with the office API's yet ;)

        But it's a bit harsh saying you waste time learning stuff.

        The first API is hard to learn, but isn't the 2nd much easier? I would think that the more you know the bigger your frame of reference becomes and the easier it becomes to learn new stuff.

        Ooh and about the 1995 statement, I mentioned it in a previous comment but you CAN still do win 32 & C++ on windows. It will run bloody fast too. It's just that most people including me got lazy and chose the easier route.

  34. Mikel

    >here we go

    @ac Oh, goodness. The grownup room used to be a link on the image in the masthead that says "Biting the hand that feeds IT". Must have been dropped in a site remodel or something.

  35. Robert Forsyth

    Isn't it HTML5 on everything?

    You know how the marketing types take several years to understand what the tech guys have been telling them, then everyone realises that by now it is old hat and nothing special, then the marketing man has to spin it in to something new and exciting.

  36. Christian Berger

    The main problem: legacy applications

    The Windows Infrastructure mostly consists of legacy applications. A big chunk of it is even based on tools from the 1990s. Some applications even took every little "technological advance" available to the developers through the decades. Those use VBX and OCX components along with .net and MS-SQL server. Even if they wanted to switch, some companies can't because their product is so old, they don't have the source code for all the obsolete components they use.

    Now cut to Linux. There you have, as mentioned before, the same kernel running on anything. Since most applications are available in source code, you can just recompile them for different architectures. In fact since the operating system actually provides services, like for example good command line tools, you can write shell scripts which will simply work, regardless of the CPU architecture.

    So if Microsoft wanted to switch to anything else than i386, they would either have to throw their entire ecosystem over board, or they would have to introduce emulation (as they already did on Alpha). There is no way a reasonable amount of the ecosystem is going to change.

  37. Spanners Silver badge

    It will straddle two form factors: PC and tablet

    Having a tablet* running XP, I can assure you that the presence or lack of a keyboard & touch screen makes absolutely no difference. I have not found a single XP application that does not work on it. A tablet is just a PC. If I bought a 22" touch screen and plugged it into my own PC, would this then be a tablet? Of course not. It is just marketing speak. (It is a shame that the ludicrous price of the previous bunch of tablets stopped people buying them. The benefit/cost equation was just too low.)

    *Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook, It is probably the oldest device on my employers network,

    ?Why do I still use it? 'Cos I can and it is very handy at scribbling notes on.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In principle ...

    The idea of a unified OS makes sense -- so it will either not happen or will be implemented badly.

    All MS has to do is just pop a minimal Linux kernel in there, an abstraction layer to make equivalent API calls from existing languages keep working and then gloss it over with whatever the current MS "look du jour" happens to be and they should end up with something that is at least secure and robust. It would also garner some kudos points.

    But that's never going to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And what of the HAL? licencing issues.... i could go on but im not, ive just re read what you wrote and i see you have already condemed something thats not even made it off the drawingboard.

      I pitty you, being blinkered is unfortunate, what would be intresting is if they landed this propperly and gain general market exceptance for a fantastic product line, i guess it would still be crap. Im curious to know if you own anything with a MS patent licence, if they are so crap then i guess not, but more than you probably realise has MS IP in it, lets take mobile phones as an example you wouldnt be using android would you? no of course not, because an increasing number of OEMs are now having to shell out for them using there IP, im almost positive that MS and Apple have phone cross licence agreements too.

      As i said already, Im not saying MS is perfect because its not, far from it, but the only person to lose out by completely ruling out anything MS is yourself especially since its not even out yet, wait for it, give it a month of usage then say what you think, because i get the feeling that your wearing rose tinted glasses when it comes to them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sorry, AC

        You've misunderstood. Totally. I'm an MS dev in my day job (amongst other things) and it has paid for lots of nice things over the years. I'm not dissing them. I'm speaking about their frankly shit systems architecture. There's no getting away from it.

        And don't pity me: I don't actually require it, thanks.

        But thanks for the nice mindless trolling rant, though. It was a scream.

      2. Miek

        Stoop so low

        And now you're going to claim that having IP is the mark of a good product! Yes AC we can see your comments all the way down the thread, (FUD-dy duddy)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          No im not going to say that having IP is a mark of a good product, but its intresting to note that competitors use others design/code, now that must be for a good reason or they wouldnt do it.

          you know, do whatever you want, Ill get the right product for the right task and save myself time and money, at the end of the day like a few of the other massively downvoted posters on here we're just trying to get people to consider the fact that not everything that comes out of MS is crap, same for apple, and the linux community.

  39. Herr Ober


    M$ announced it over and over since 2000. Did it ever happen? Another pile of s**te from a company on a fast roll downhill....

  40. Scarborough Dave

    Still be umpteen flavours?

    Presumably, there will still be Windows Home Premium, Pro and Ultimate, for each environment.

    Hopefully MS will move to one flavour for the everything.

    Can imagine the fun in a medium sized businesses where the MD buys a cheap phone and laptop, but can't login to the domain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Umpteen zillion flavours

      God this is the thing I hate the most about Windows. You have to be so careful which one you get:

      Does it support enough RAM? They say it's 64 bit, but depending on which version it may only support 2GB. Does it support domains, and networking? When you buy a new laptop especially, will the supplier supply it with the needed flavour?

      And then you get the language problem. We have to buy 4+ different versions of the "same" flavour of windows just to have different user interface languages. In theory we could get language packs and just install them, but they don't work on the flavour of Windows that we can get on our Windows licensing scheme. (>100k desktops)

  41. Stephen Channell

    Pretty obvious step…

    10 years ago when wince was introduced, no mobile platform could support Android, MacOS(iOS), or even the neat QNX (for battery). EPOC/Symbian managed it with fast sleep/resume.. but todays smartphone has the memory and speed to run almost anything.

    The MS Executive and HAL (deep down in the kernel) has been shared between Xbox, PC & Server for 10 years so it is not exactly a big leap to put it on a smartphone now.. I’d image two other announcements to come with this one:

    • pushing the new kernel for multi-core devices with smother multitasking & background processing.

    • wince to follow other RTOS with more functions blown into hardware.

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      wince just needs to FOAD

  42. Jared Vanderbilt

    Been there, done that. October 2001

    NT 5.1 was Microsoft's first attempt at a single OS. Windows XP replaced DOS, 16-bit Windows, and the NT 5.1 core was stubbed into Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded . Of course the strategy failed because the NT 5.1 core is fat and many of the mobile and embedded applications had scarce resources.

    This go-round should succeed. The hardware necessary to run the NT core today is essentially free and resides on silicon the size of a finger nail. All that's missing is Balmer drawing a line around the kernel and saying no one steps inside this box.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      fixed that for you

      >This go-round should succeed


      It would be nice to think it would. Experience, however...

  43. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Just a bit of advice

    Both Balmer and the Windows OS need to go on a diet. Balmer for continued health, and the OS for this plan to succeed.

  44. Andus McCoatover

    One word missing.


    Odd, that.

  45. Miek

    More of the same ...

    One BSOD to rule them all.

  46. Bram

    someone help me

    I cant believe this has turned into Windows doesnt work and MS are complete rubbish thread so quickly.

    NEWS FLASH: no system is perfect, they all crash and have problems and require things to be changed and tweaked.

    What I don't understand is that there are some techies here that are serious luddites who want to still use languages and controls from the 80s and 90s?!?!? why please somebody help them thats like asking for a manual choke and an engine start key for your car.

    MS have consistently tried to unify their OS but it is easier said than done (.NET etc.) with so many partners dependant on the various versions it would be damaging to cut them all off. Now with more competitors it is easier for them to take the risk. Good on them for trying.

    just a note Linux does run on multiple platforms but that doesnt mean that the same code will run on all the different distros in the same manner with the same experience level. MS are trying to deliver a consistant experience across all its platforms which is not that easy.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "MS have consistently tried to unify their OS but it is easier said than done"

      Hmmm fair point, but just suppose for a minute that you designed that from the get-go? Say about 8 years ago, instead of running around trying to trounce everyone, you started looking at the future and worked towards it with a single minded determination to smash the market and take what you want, screw everyone else on the planet! Might you have succeeded?

      Easier to just run around like headless chickens trying to appeal to everyone and everything, trying to offer people choices. People don't want choices they want to be told want to like and what to think. Why is TV so popular? It tells you what you need and doesn't allow you to have your own opinion. Apple have taken that idea and sold it to consumers. "You don't need to think! You need this shiny thing here! Come and buy the shiny thing and scantily clad ladies and gents will want to get jiggy with you! Sit at home in a coma like a loser or buy the shiny thing and be a winner!". MS need to stop trying offer people choices and tell them what they need! and tell them that they will the odd one out if they don't get on board now! It's made the antichrist, Dark Lord Jobs of Cuppertino a wealthy and famous man!

    2. Anonymous Coward


      By the looks of this thread individuals like ourselves are in the minority. But trully, are you supprised that it got bashed so quickly? just mentioning MS seems to draw them out of the woodwork on this site.

    3. Andus McCoatover

      thats like asking for a manual choke and an engine start key for your car.

      Bloody kids!. Bet you haven't a clue how to manually advance or retard the ignition timing on your Bentley with that lever on the steering wheel's centre.

      I guess you use Tomtom, rather than a map printed on parchment...Dullard ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Not to mention

        Their total lack of understanding on how to double de-clutch.

  47. Simon B

    Internet ExploDer for PC and mobile?!!

    "Also, it has dropped different versions of Internet Exploder for PC and mobile."

    I gotta get me that! I only have Firefox and Internet ExploRer!

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021