back to article Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all

Microsoft has cracked open its annual and Q4 results, the first end of year numbers it has spat out under brevity-challenged chief executive Satya Nadella. As befitting such a results event, there was plenty of backslapping and self-congratulatory talk about how Microsoft is turning into a cloud business. But why was …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Plan

    First it was to be Apple in the Phone/Tablet space - failed (sorry, any other company with MS sales numbers would be in the "Other" slice of the pie chart)


    Now it is to be Google.

    The future does not look to bright.

    1. hplasm

      Re: The Plan

      "The future does not look to bright."

      Not for MS it doesn't...

      1. Gis Bun

        Re: The Plan

        Errr. And why? Results weren't incredible but they weren't bad. But from someone who is anti-Microsoft like you....

    2. mi1400

      Re: The Plan

      well they have said unifying OS... not unifying Kernel... it might still be a bolt on riveted innards in win-9 and starting a next cycle of startmenu type false hopes that ok ok kernels will also be unified but not in windows 10 in windows 11 (maybe) .. And we will be preaching in tech forums to keep hopes high and prayers running for early release of windows-12 ... I just peed in my pants... BRB...

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: The Plan

        However Microsoft's marketing departments don't see any particular difference between OS and kernel. Luckily there is some remaining smart in there somewhere and while the shell and underlying OS / Kernel are often mercilessly interlinked, there is some semblance of separation.

        Whatever happened to an API being consistent and the innards being implemented in whatever way was appropriate. An application may have to be recompiled for each API supporting system but in an ideal world (we are still a very long way from this on most systems), that should be it.

  2. btrower

    One size fits none

    I have no problem with one Windows OS. I have a problem with it being the crappy Windows 8.x -- one size fits none.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: One size fits none

      Windows 8 is crap on the desktop, but it's fine on a phone. I haven't seen it on a tablet.

      But "fits none" is unfair.

      What bothers me is - wasn't this the whole idea behind Win 8? How come it's being re-announced now, two years later?

      1. 's water music

        Re: One size fits none

        What bothers me is - wasn't this the whole idea behind Win 8? How come it's being re-announced now, two years later?

        It's like Windows 95 gets rid of DOS all over again.

      2. John P

        Re: One size fits none

        You can tell it was designed for touch because it works really well on both phones and tablets. Most of the niggles I have about using it on a desktop disappear once I'm on a tablet although the integration on transformers like the Lenovo Helix is a little rough.

        It's being reannounced because they screwed it up.

        Win8 was supposed to facilitate write once-run anywhere, due to internal politics it failed miserably at this, ending up with APIs for Win8 on Intel, Win8 on Arm, and WinPho which were very similar but different enough to be incompatible.

        Here's hoping MS can get it right second time, the fact that they seem to be teaming up with Xamarin on the mobile side makes me optimistic.

  3. Charles Manning

    One OS

    For an OS company these people are pretty daft. They've been at this game so long, yet still they do not learn.

    We have had cars, bicycles and horses coe-existing as transport devices for many years. So why have do we not have a consistent UI for these? It turns out that putting reigns on a car or as steering wheel on a horse just does not work.

    The same applies to the different computing platforms we use.

    When you're holding a small mobile device in one hand then our natural hand-eye coordination makes it increadibly easy to use a touch interface with our other hand, but touch does not work well when you're stretching across a desk.

    Microsoft has been trying to shoe-horn all computing into a single UI since the 1990s, hence the start button on WinCE devices. Finally they got the message: mobile devices do not work well with a start menu based UI.

    Unfortunately they did not stop there. Once they discovered that other UIs work better on mobile, they failed to see the difference between platforms and pushed the tile UI onto everything.

    After spending years trying to sell us cars with reigns, they've switched to trying to sell us horses with steering wheels.

    Oh, btw, the cloud changes nothing. Even if you cloud all your data and all your apps, people still want to drive them differently if they are on mobile devices vs desktop/laptops.

    1. Vector

      Re: One OS

      What you're talking about is chrome. Not Google's browser, but decorations.

      Yes, there should be different interfaces for different platforms; touch doesn't work well in desktop environments and a mouse would be funny on a phone. But that doesn't mean the underlying libraries which drive the data to those interfaces can't use a unified API across platforms which would reduce development time for all of them.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: One OS

        What lies at the heart of it is not just "decorations."

        Different form factors and screen sizes mandate completely different ways of interacting with an app. In short, even if you did make one OS/kernel/architecture to rule them all, people wouldn't want to run a desktop app on a phone.

        The upshot is, you still need different app development skills for different form factors, even if the OS were the same. There is no silver bullet to transform a desktop monopoly into a mobile one.

        1. Vector

          @ P. Lee Re: One OS

          "Different form factors and screen sizes mandate completely different ways of interacting with an app. In short, even if you did make one OS/kernel/architecture to rule them all, people wouldn't want to run a desktop app on a phone."

          Completely different? No. Different, yes but, for most apps, you are still trying to present the same data and gather the same responses, regardless of the form factor. The difference is the how. If you look at the MVC development model, the Model and it's interface to the View and Controller can and should be consistent across all platforms, only the user facing elements of the View and Controller need to change. There will be cases where the platform will dictate variances in the functionality of the app, but that should not require a completely different OS framework. Any API not involved in UI should be the same regardless of platform.

          "The upshot is, you still need different app development skills for different form factors, even if the OS were the same."

          You should not need different skills, just a different philosophy for the various platforms.

          1. Benjol

            Re: @ P. Lee One OS

            That's the theory, but have you ever done it in earnest?

            My (limited) experience is that these abstractions tend to 'leak'.

    2. 's water music

      Re: One OS

      MInd you, a horse with a steering wheel would be pretty awesome

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: One OS

        Shame I can't find any pics of it, but a long while ago I read a story about a horse that had learnt to drive a (heavily) modified flat back truck. It even had its own steering wheel contraption that it could turn with its teeth.

        I'll have to ask some horsey friends if they know of the best way to mount a steering wheel onto a horse...

        1. Aqua Marina

          Re: One OS

          You're remembering "Horse Drives Car"

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: One OS

        >MInd you, a horse with a steering wheel would be pretty awesome

        Until it stops suddenly, as horses sometimes do.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Re: One OS

          >Until it stops suddenly, as horses sometimes do.

          Put it on roller skates, problem solved!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One OS

      I love your cars and horses analogy. Like the other poster, I think a horse with a steering wheel would be great fun. Formula 1 Horse Power!

      Forget horses and cars though, Windows (Next)tm has to be the next personal jetpac. Even if it is prone to self-destruct with devastating loss of well....everything, and might only fly for less than a minute or two before you need a new one.

      Why? Because it's cool. This is the only energy the new world runs on. Everything else is lame.

    4. Gis Bun

      Re: One OS

      "For an OS company..." Yup. SQL Service, Office, Office 365, SharePoint, ....

    5. bex

      Re: One OS

      I think the problem with M$ is too big a team or many teams doing bits of the UI. The old designed by a committee chestnut. Windows 8 from an outsiders perspective is an obvious custerfook, throwing away 20 years of evolution of the desktop and start menu to tack on a brand new interface was stupid in the extreme.

      Apple have hardly changed how OSX works (at a basic level) in nearly 14 years

  4. WylieCoyoteUK

    Its Windows that's the problem.

    Microsoft have always strived to be a one OS company, and charged more for anything over basic.

    Trouble is that the code base still does not scale well, and MS are still missing the point(s)

    Chromebooks aren't just selling because they are cheap, it's because they are very good at what they do.

    ARM Tablets aren't just selling because they have touch, it's because they very good at what they do.

    Android and iOS phones aren't just selling because they are shiny, it's because they are very good at what they do.

    Windows is a multi-purpose OS, not particularly good at any one thing, and the archaic and convoluted licensing deals are what will kill it.

    1. mikejbradley

      Re: Its Windows that's the problem.

      What almost no reviewer covers is the percentage of Microsoft's profit which comes from business / Enterprise sales, and the percentage which comes from retail sales. Most reviews assume Microsoft is in only one market, while they are actually more like a conglomerate like G.E., which makes everything from trains to aircraft engines to light bulbs. And most comments are directed at only one market, like Windows vs. Android/Apple, or SQL vs. Oracle, etc. Even if Microsoft isn't the biggest search engine or biggest cell phone manufacturer, those businesses are only a fraction of the overall business. Reviews also compare Azure to AWS, which are completely different markets. AWS is marketed toward selling stuff on Amazon, Azure toward allowing Fortune 500 companies to hybridize their IT infrastructure.

    2. Spasticus Autisticus

      Re: Its Windows that's the problem.

      My car analogy

      Windows = - SFW

      Most other OSes = - still SFW

      I'm fixing the Windows POS* all day, every day, I should be thanking MS for all the work it requires to keep Windows running. Its like owning and running a 1950's car as against a modern car, got to know how to do the plugs, points, filters, etc. or get someone to do it for you. A modern car just works between 10000 mile services. 'Just Works' where have I heard that before!

      * Used in its correct form - not shop tills.

  5. Steven Raith

    Sounds familiar...

    "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one, single converged operating system for screens of all sizes."

    You mean like wot Canonical have been laying the foundations on for a couple of years now - one kernel*, one application package, multiple interfaces based on screen type?

    Except MS will likely still require their 'cross platform apps' to have the code for three seperate actual applications (WinDesktop, WinARM, WinPhone) in one package and it'll just launch the binary for whatever version is flagged in the OS....

    Steven R

    *pick your architecture, obviously, but you get where I'm coming from

  6. Herby

    One Windows doesn't work!

    The environments Microsoft is aiming for are different. On the one hand, tablets/phones are "one handed" devices that you poke and slide across (while holding in the other hand) and laptops/desktops are "two handed" devices that you use a keyboard and a mouse. These just aren't compatible. You need a different set of rules to make it all work.

    Apple HAS figured it out (my many shares are looking pretty good here!) and the "feel" of the different devices is adapted to the different environments.

    So having steering wheels on horses and reins on autos just isn't that practical but it might work if you wanted it to. The end result is at best a comprimise and doesn't get the job done.

    So, one to rule them all isn't going to work!

    1. NPCO543

      Re: One Windows doesn't work!

      "Apple HAS figured it out (my many shares are looking pretty good here!) and the "feel" of the different devices is adapted to the different environments."

      Just love it when people pad their opinions with gloating about their wealth, it gives the rest of their comment such credibility.

      The only thing Apple has figured out is how brain dead most consumers are. Show them a shiny object and they'll throw their money at it. Sooner or later, people will wake up, and Apple will be in trouble. Their patent rampage is clear evidence that they're living in the past, trying to slow everyone to their snail's pace, as opposed to looking forward and leading by example.

      For as much as Microsoft rightly deserves to be criticized, between them, Google and Apple, Apple is dead last when it comes to actual innovation.

      1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Paris Hilton

        Re: One Windows doesn't work!

        Actually, I took his comment about his Apple shares to be an indication that Apple is absolutely doing something that brings results. You're both several degrees of being correct, though one more condescending than the other, and I would like to amend.

        Now that Tim Cook has signed the Unholy Alliance with IBM, so long as Apple does not over-inflate and confuse its product line (as prior to the Jobsian Product Purge) there is a huge chance for Apple to start biting into the Microsoft enterprise share. IBM has long seethed over the betrayal of the Microsoft OS/2-Windows partnership. Apple has traditionally not pushed into the business arena, but IBM clearly and demonstrably has the ability to take Apple there.

        Factor in the recent and growing BYOD and PYOD trends: where enterprise technology once drove consumer technology as "put what they use at work in the home," the explosion of consumer technology is now pushing the opposite way. Whether we like it or not, Apple owns the consumer technology market. Now, whether Cook and Co. can keep that edge driven at least in part by a cult-like following remains to be seen, as he has already missed key product release points, is expanding the product line, and is making changes to product which would have never occurred under Jobs.

        I have no use for Apple products in my home consumer life, nor for that matter in my business life. But, if I wanted a safe bet for my retirement investments, at least for the short-term, Apple would definitely get my money.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: One Windows doesn't work!

          I would generally agree with your point but there is no way "Apple owns the consumer technology market."

          By far the biggest segment of that market, worldwide, is mobile phones and Apple isn't even close to Android there.

      2. Steve I

        Re: One Windows doesn't work!

        "Sooner or later, people will wake up, and Apple will be in trouble.". Too right. OK, so we were a bit off with the 'iPhone will flop" comment before it launched, but this will surely come true.

        OK, we thought it'd happen in 2008, then 2009, then 2010, then 2011 and err ummm,, but no fear - one day people will realise The Truth and that us nerdy techies knew best all along and that they don't want some that they can just use without having to re-compile the kernal every few weeks.

    2. Tom 38

      Re: One Windows doesn't work!

      Is it because it is grammatically awkward? "One Window", surely.

  7. ben_myers

    They don't call them evangelists for nothing

    Microsoft product managers are called evangelists. They do their work just like the religious evangelists, preaching the true Microsoft way, and seeking money. So is Nadella the chief evangelist? Guess so. I pay the same amount of attention to evangelists of any type: zero. Until they tread on my turf. Then they get tossed from my property for trespassing. What a pile of stinking horse manure!

    1. Cipher

      Re: They don't call them evangelists for nothing

      Ein volk, ein OS, ein Microsoft!

  8. ZeiXi


    After years of using Microsoft's products, starting with DOS 2.1 right up to now using Windows 7, I recently went to a store to try out the Microsoft Surface running 8. After standing there and groping around for over 15 minutes, I gave up. There is very little I am familiar with, and there is also very little in terms of intuitive use. I was actually prepared to buy one there and then as I like the stylus and how it allows fine drawing as compared to the use of fingers in iPad. Strangely enough, when I got an iPad, within a couple of minutes it feels like an old friend.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Simplicity

      The overall concept isn't entirely awful, it's the implementation of the user interface, and the all too often lack of features or functionality that often requires reverting to "desktop mode" that savages the whole thing. The "not-metro" interface fails on so many basic, elementary user interface (now usually termed User eXperience) principles that it would be laughable if it weren't coming from Microsoft who in the past put a lot of good work into UX principles. They often ignored them in their own products, but that's a different problem.

      One shouldn't have to randomly thumb areas of the screen in the hope that something, or anything, interesting happens. At the elemental level a user interface should be obvious, discoverable and consistent. Once "standards" are defined somehow, it is best to stick with them even if they are not the most optimal. For example, QWERTY has been proven to not be the most optimal keyboard layout for English language users, however it is an established standard. For mobile phones, pressing a home button is an accepted and expected method to wake up a device in order to use it, if there isn't such a button then the fallback is to press a button on the side, or at worst, top, edge of the device, this button will be a singular button on its own. On the other hand, pinch to zoom is not an obvious interaction method however it is an established standard interface and works very well and it's surprising how often even experienced users try it on devices or applications that don't support it.

  9. Alan Denman

    And in consulation with Apple

    Obviously so are Apple. Apple is embedding Bing even further into OS/X and IOS so if the old cartel can get away with it, expect iMessage to reciprocate on Windows.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "What's next? Windows, windows, windows baby!"

    Windows everywhere, on all devices, for all your lifestyle needs.

    New boss is beginning to sound like the old boss.

    Joachim Kempin was right when he called Satya Nadella a sheep, a follower. Mr Kempin was already exceedingly polite.

  11. Scott Sinnock

    Windows 3.1, dog that is was, did everything I needed an "operating" system to do, just a graphical interface on DOS. Everything since is mostly "apps" and "new features" but the disk storage and ROM usage interface nearly the same. So 18 billion on planned obsolescence and new color schemes and new icon sizes and tons and tons of apps I don't want or ever use.

  12. randygrenier

    First of all, there are too many negative innuendos in this article to call it journalism. Secondly, Microsoft continues to be a very strong performer as far as revenues are concerned.

    Too many reporters and commentators are stuck in the tunnel vision of consumer gadgets. There are many other profitable technologies besides phones and tablets. Microsoft is everywhere in business, governments, universities, and so on. (That's what is meant by "enterprise.") They make many profitable products for grown ups. (Oops! Sorry about the innuendo.)

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      These reactions are largely Microsoft's fault - they are pushing a decidedly sub-standard consumer targetted interface where it is not appropriate. "Metro" on a server? Not useful at all. A "Metro" notification and monitoring application that runs on a remote device and can remotely monitor one or more servers, possibly quite useful because it's a substantially different usage protocol. I dread the next release of SQL Server where they'll doubtless Metro-ify the entire management interface on the server, dumbing it down to useless levels, removing all the sortable columns and filters that are useful and if current form is maintained, replacing all error messages with "something non-optimal has happened"...

  13. SineWave242

    I still think MS is heading the way of the Dodo. Maybe it's just that I had to wipe all these XPs and install too many Linux OSes lately? People clearly don't give a shit, they just want their Chromes and Firefoxes to work, watch Youtube, listen to music, edit photos and an occasional document. They don't need anything MS offers in their "newer, better and faster" OSes. MS should have just kept the XP/7 user interface and try to make the stability and security better, maintaining the core of the OS, nothing else. However, I'm glad they released W8 because it finally showed what a crap corporation MS is and any corporation for that matter.

  14. AndyDent

    More Uncertainty in Development Platforms? Thanks MS!

    I'm a multi-platform developer. I was already pretty steamed at MS for effectively killing off WPF as it was a powerful product I could use to deliver UI's matching OS/X and use a common C++ core.

    I put off getting into Windows Mobile 7/8 (bye bye to my CE skills) and picking a new direction for MS development because of all the floundering in the last couple of years.

    Now we're trying to decide if it is worth targeting WP8 alongside Android and iOS and the last thing I need is more uncertainty about the technology. My immediate reaction is to again push WP8 down the priority list.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was there 1995-99 when someone internally build a slide (that made it into the Public Domain), showing the convergence of the 3 OSs into a "one size fits all"...

    At that point there was WindowsCE (embedded devices), WindowsME (desktops pre-Win98) and WindowsNT (servers).

    The slide brought all this into the one ubiquitous OS entitled WindowsCEMENT:

    Clearly this wasn't seen as a joke in some areas of R&D, and the product made it into the open market

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