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"One Windows?" Not really...

It looks like there’s been a bit of misplaced hullaballoo in the wake of yesterday’s 7/22/2014 Microsoft earnings call for Q4, during which CEO Satya Nadella is quoted as saying: “We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes” (source Mary Jo Foley, All About Microsoft, ZDNet). Though this sounds very much like one OS image for all possible variants, including phones, tablets, PCs, and game consoles, that’s not exactly how things should play out, according to many sources (including MJF’s aforelinked article on this subject).


Globzer’s “hypothetical” wallpaper for Windows 9 aka Threshold, where the One Windows strategy should find more tangible expression from MS.

Here’s a more reasonable interpretation of what’s going on with Windows and what Nadella sought to say:

1. One development team for Windows versions/variants — namely the Unified Operating System Group led by Terry Myerson.
2. One single, common Windows “core” — also called the NT Core, this common collection of code applies to Windows Phone, Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Server. According to MJF  “…each OS builds on top of this core using different pieces that make sense for the form factor/hardware…” in use.
3. One unified Windows Store — By combining the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store, MS is working toward a single store for all of its platforms, where it’s likely that Windows 9 (aka “Threshold”) may be where the initial results of such efforts go on display.
4. One single unified Development effort — Perhaps best understood as “code once for all Windows platforms” this effort captures MS’s ongoing work to consolidate a core set of APIs to enable applications to run on Windows Phone, Windows (desktop and server), and the Xbox. MS’s initial efforts enable developers to reuse some code as they write what MS calls “Universal Windows apps,” but there’s still substantial work to be done in this area.

It’s tempting to try to translate this into a single installable Windows version that somehow enacts a “one image fits all platforms” approach. Ain’t gonna happen! As MJF points out, Nadella steered emphatically clear of any such promise when he said “Our SKU strategy will remain by segment. We will have multiple SKUs for enterprise, we will have for OEM, we will have for end-users… We will be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along.” ‘Nuff said!

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