back to article Is Microsoft brewing a Win8, WinPho code merge?

Microsoft’s Windows Phone chief Andy Lees has been given a new role, leading a stealth project straddling Windows Phone and Windows 8. Lees, who’d served as president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, has been set to work on what CEO Steve Ballmer called a “time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in …


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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Violins playing

    We've heard all this before. Was it WP6? I really don't care enough to remember.

    Like Linux, it would be perfectly possible for them to come up with a Kernel that can run on anything from a writswatch to a supercomputer. But they won't.

    Like Linux they could then install different types of user experience on top of that, for different types of Appliance. But they won't.

    They won't because they can't break the legacy link, unless they are going to give us all a free XP VM to run legacy programmes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those 'legacy programmes' are previously lost versions of Dr Who right?


    2. Fuzz

      "They won't because they can't break the legacy link, unless they are going to give us all a free XP VM to run legacy programmes."

      Like the free XP VM you get in Windows 7?

    3. CheesyTheClown

      Wow... yer pretty smert aincha

      Let's see... the Windows kernel... not too much different than the Linux kernel for the most part. It's a big mess of code which manages to get other stuff to run. Over the past few years, the scheduler has been modified to handle adaptive scheduling for different environments. I can detail it... but it would probably just give you more words you don't understand to abuse.

      Linux can run on a tiny device and a big one.... just have to recompile it with all kinds of different options to make that happen. Microsoft doesn't bother with that. They make a single kernel which runs on the different device classes of interest to them. Could Windows be forced onto a wrist watch ... if you strip the OS down to nothing but the kernel, a few drivers and a telnet login to bash... yeh... pretty sure they could do that ... but why?

      You're apparently living in a fantasy land where a telephone is running a 16Mhz CPU with 2 megs of RAM and 2 megs of flash. Linux runs like shit on that too.

      I'm carrying a lumpy old iPhone 4 around with a puny 1Ghz A4, OpenGL accelerated graphics, OpenCL, 512Megabytes of RAM and 32 gigabytes of flash. It's actually got higher specs than my Sony Vaio UX which I run Windows 7 quite nicely on... well the UX has 2GB RAM. Of course, that half ass step to the 4S doubles the CPU power, multiplies the GPU power by 5 and I think doubles the ram, but don't quote me on it.

      Based on that, you're telephone isn't a whimpy wrist watch... though if you insist, you can buy a wrist watch these days with dual core 1Ghz ARM processors inside.

      Windows 7 has Windows Media Center, Windows Desktop, a crumby attempt at Windows Tablet, Windows Home Server (mostly web based), Windows multitouch for coffee tables etc... Windows 8 adds the Windows Phone Metro UI to the tablet environment... and oh.. it runs on ARM... so in theory, there's nothing stopping you from running on a telephone... all that's missing is the GSM radio support for voice. I'm sure Microsoft couldn't possibly implement that.

      Of course, you're sure about the legacy link being an issue... well... ummm... yeh it is an issue. Windows 8 for x64 will run apps all the way back to Windows XP (some even earlier) though not for Windows 16 and often not for DOS. Windows 7 included a VM to run legacy applications with a X Windows style integration environment. If I ever get an ARM based Windows device, I'll probably finish coding the VirtualBox dynamic recompiler if noone else has so that I can run run x86 Windows on it. VirtualBox (as with all VMs) make heavy use of a dynamic recompiler to avoid excessive trapping of system calls. It simply remaps them for the most part. Implementing the rest of the instruction set isn't such a big deal.

      So... go back to whatever little planet you come from... your flame baiting is just uneducated rubbish.

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    "As she correctly points out, what’s debatable is what exactly is meant when you say “Windows 8” because you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to fit a general purpose PC operating system core into a phone."

    Modern phones are much more powerful than desktops from years ago and people had no trouble sticking a "general purpose PC operating system core" on them. Perhaps the problem is Windows 8.

    In the past, MS have always excused their bloat by saying that each new version of Windows is pitched at "modern hardware". There is a delicious irony in the market making a quantum jump to smaller devices and Microsoft suddenly finding that only "old" hardware is big enough to run their bloated OS.

    1. Shaun 1

      Au contraire

      Fujitsu have released a phone in Japan that runs a full copy of Windows 7

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        which begs

        which begs the question 'why?'

        1. Shaun 1

          RE: Why

          How about "because".

          I've seen a mobile phone with a built in electric shaver before, so nothing surprises me with phones any more

      2. Anonymous Coward

        '1.2GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD.'

        Ever ran windows 7 on 1GB of ram and a 1.2Ghz Atom? Yeah, didn't think so. Ability to run does not mean ability to run _well_.

        1. Al Jones

          You've heard of these things called Netbooks, right? Devices with a gig of RAM and an Intel Atom CPU?

          They're surprisingly popular for the kind of work that people actually do on small mobile devices.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Battery life while running Windows 7 on the device clocks in at only two hours"


    2. Paul Shirley

      unfixable due to Microsoft lockin attempts

      Yes, it's a Windows problem that Win8 hasn't solved. iOS and to a lesser extent Android take a desktop (capable) OS and streamline it for different hardware. It's not a full PC OS only because it's not running on full PC hardware, rather than any artificial constraints.

      The base OSes both are built on are modular enough that shrinking the OS is both easy and actually shrinks the OS footprint.

      The Windows problem is the OS is so infested with dependencies that they dont know how to remove any component safely, Microsoft recently admitted spending months just trying to map them. They can remove function but can't actually remove much footprint and still trust the OS to work. This is more than just poor design, Microsoft policy of binding user space programs (Internet Explorer is the classic one) into the system layers just came back to bite them. A policy designed to encourage user lock in has just locked Microsoft into it's own messy past!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Redmond, start your photocopiers!

  4. aThingOrTwo

    CE -> NT

    The "obvious" (although still tricky) thing to do would be to replace the CE kernel with the NT kernel on the Phone. That would make some sense from a cost/maintenance perspective.

    That in theory could also be done almost transparently with very little consequence for the majority of developers.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      little consequence

      apart from needing another few hundred memory chips...

      1. aThingOrTwo

        Please explain.

        I am not sure I understand.

        Almost all Windows Phones would have no problem running the NT kernel.

    2. Malcolm 1

      This definitely seems a very likely outcome, with a dash of WinRT to provide the UI layer. They've been heading in this direction for some time: The MinWin project to fully modularise the kernel, porting it to ARM and with Windows 8 the WinRT API providing a clean break from the Win32 legacy for touch-first applications. They already demoed different metro "modes" for full screen and side-by-side layouts add an extra phone mode for small screens and your app can run across all form factors.

  5. Ommerson


    'because you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to fit a general purpose PC operating system core into a phone.'

    Since the vast majority of the mobile phone market is doing precisely this, it's entirely reasonable - iOS is using the same Mach/BSP kernel a Mac OS X (and a fair chunk of the user-space layers as well) and Android is using the Linux kernel. Clearly in both cases, some features are compiled out, and some of the drivers are different.

    Also bear in mind that MS is already committed to supporting a number of ARM SoC devices in W8, so it seems highly likely that the would avoid duplicating this (considerable) effort across the NT and Windows CE kernels.

  6. John70


    I'm surprised this wasn't already happening, Windows 8 and Phone 8 both using Metro interface both based on WinRT core.

    1. amanfromarse


      Didn't anybody understand the announcements from Build in September?! Including Foley.

  7. IGnatius T Foobar

    Only apps written to a new API

    Only apps written to Microsoft's API Du Jour will run on both Vista 8 and Vista Phone. The long tail of legacy apps which keep all those Pee Cees locked into Windows using the Win32 API will not run on Vista Phone, and never will.

  8. Doug 3

    they'd better get doing and fast

    the current phone hardware is leaving Windows Phone OS behind in the dust since it can't run on multi-core SoC's no matter if it's "needed" or not. Remeber, 64K is all the memory anyone ever needed right?

    The first quad core phone is due to ship in Q2 2012 and the first tablet in weeks and most shipping smart phones are dual core now and it's in all the marketing. Looking at MS WP7 marketing and you see "hardware" specs but often you don't see the processor even listed let alone it's speed. ie they must remote the emphasis on the CPU when, like in the PC sector, it's front and center every where else.

    And then we have Windows 8 due out late 2012 and no word on Window Phone 8 or what that'll all be about. The elephant in the room is wondering why nobody's looking at it. Microsoft is very loud about Windows 8 on tablets yet all the tablets out there are running the phone OS and apps are compatible with the phone OS( now with Android ICS ).

    So what's the message Microsoft or are you _still_ trying to figure out what's going on as the world passes you by?

  9. Dan 54

    Desktop Docks

    If a phone can run windows 7 or 8 and you can put it in a dock that is connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse then it can operate in a desktop mode as well. I think this is possibly the way things are going and may have something to do with the announcement. Motorola's atrix dock already allows a simple desktop operating system to be used when the atrix is docked to a monitor. Granted they don't really yet have enough power as a nettop even but I'm sure that will change.

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Norton for Phones will kill it stone dead

    It's windows!

    Quick load that AV software package before we get all that nasty malware!

    {Other AV packages are available}

  11. The real Adrian W

    All about catching the fondleslab boat?

    Surely this is all about tablets? My guess is they've recognised that full fat W8 isn't hitting the sweet spot for tablet OS's (power and GUI being the big issues) and this is an effort to bridge the gap.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    aye but.....

    your missing the point

    MS doesnt need to make them work the same, they just need to make them look like they work the same

    No seriously, hear me out, average jo, an by that i dont mean the vast majority of users on here, likes consistancy, they do, its a fact, thats why most Joes like Windows, its consistant with their experience, same for MS Office. IF MS can make the all three platforms similar (Desktop, tablet, phone) people will be more drawn towards them, if clicking here an there has the same effect people will be more likely to understand it.

    People like Simple, Apple has done this very very well, dumb down an OS and people love it, just so long as it does what they expect it to do, many of you wont agree with this next bit, but MS has done it with WP7, it might not be great, it sure as shit isnt WM6, but it is a dumbed down OS (compared to WM) and average Joe who actually uses it and ignores all the slagging it gets actually likes it

    Apple and MS target average Joes, im not exactly sure what Google is targeting, it seems like its somewhere in the middle, but i fear they are making the same mistake MS made with WM, MS gave OEMs and networks to much play and they screwed it over yes MS neglected it, but it wasnt all their fault

    anyhow rant over :)

  13. Michael Price

    They aren't talking the whole OS, just the kernel

    This is the only thing that makes sense for MS. The kernel could easily run on a Win Phone. Do a Google search on "Min Win". They have been working on this for years. There was another article a couple of months back on just how close MS is on this.

    One kernel on all the devices, just add the extra bits that pertain to each device.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Down

      Surely 'min win' is as dead as winFS?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The selling point for tablets and phones...

    seems to be App's, and the majority of Windows App's that people use are still XP era ones. I wonder if the project is to make an x86 VM that runs on ARM and then put an XP emulator layer on top for instant App' Store content?

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