Early build of Windows 8 suggests cross-platform OS to compete with Apple's iOS

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An early build of Windows 8 suggests that Microsoft may transition the next version of Windows to a cross-platform OS scalable across a variety of devices in hopes of competing with Apple's iOS platform, according to new reports.



A series of posts by Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera of Within Windows details new features in Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 release that may hint at compatible smartphone and tablet versions of the operating system, as reported by eWeek.



The features include a Welcome/Unlock Screen similar to that of Windows Phone 7, new Ribbon UI for Windows Explorer and a document reader that uses a new packaged application model that "closely resembles Windows Phone 7 application packages."



"For this reason, we surmise that the AppX application type could be common to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 (codenamed ?Apollo?)," the authors continued, "providing developers with a way to write applications that target and can transition between a variety of devices, including traditional PCs, tablets, and phones."



It should be noted, however, that none of the features are close to final and could change significantly as Microsoft continues to work on Windows 8. Thurrott and Rivera wrote that "in early builds of Windows 8, this Ribbon UI is only half-finished and, frankly, of dubious value."



Source: Within Windows



Adding to the mounting evidence of a cross-platform strategy from Microsoft is the January news that Microsoft is working on a port of Windows 8 to ARM's System on a Chip (SoC) architecture.



ARM's chip designs, which make an appearance in Apple's A4 and A5 SoCs, have rapidly outsold Intel's X86 chips, which have struggled to meet the low-power requirements of modern mobile devices, in the mobile market.



Source: Within Windows



Windows everywhere



During a January keynote at CES, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer alluded to the company's multi-device strategy for Windows. "Whatever device you use...Windows will be there." he said. "Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve. Windows will be everywhere on every device without compromise."



Sales of Windows Phone 7 smartphones have been muted since the platform launched last fall, but the recent announcement of a long-term partnership between Nokia and Microsoft could ramp up sales in coming years.



Nokia and Microsoft jointly announced in February that Nokia, the world's largest phone maker, will abandon its Symbian operating system in favor of Windows Phone 7. Recently released predictions by Gartner project that Windows smartphones will climb from a dwindling 9 percent market share in 2009 past Apple's iPhone to a 20 percent share in 2011, even as Symbian drops from 47 percent to 0 percent.







Tablet pressure



Microsoft's board has put pressure on Ballmer to improve the company's performance in the mobile space. Last year, an SEC filing revealed that the CEO had been criticized for "the unsuccessful launch of the Kin phone; loss of market share in the company's mobile phone business; and the need for the company to pursue innovations to take advantage of new form factors."



Those "new form factors" seemed to be a reference to Apple's iPad, which saw a successful launch earlier that year. In July 2010, Ballmer admitted that Apple had "sold more [iPads] than I'd like them to sell," and that tablets were one of the "top issues" on his mind.



The failure of the HP Slate, a joint project between Microsoft and HP, to gain traction after its release last year is also driving the Windows giant's efforts to break into the tablet market. Though HP announced that sales of the Slate "exceeded expectations," insiders have suggested that HP only planned to sell 5,000 Slates and had to retool to manufacture the 9,000 units necessary to meet backordered demand.



New challengers



Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft aren't the only two companies facing off in the battle for mobile. HP has invested heavily in the webOS platform it acquired through its purchase of Palm. As the world's largest PC maker, the company also plans to scale webOS up to PCs in a cross-platform move that will challenge Microsoft on its home turf.



Google is busy putting the finishing touches on its tablet-specific Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which will make its way into numerous Android-based iPad competitors later this year. Last month, the search giant closed the source code for Honeycomb in order to prevent manufacturers from implementing the version for phones. After subsequent reports suggested that Android was becoming more closed, Android mastermind Andy Rubin promised that the code would be reopened once Google's engineers finished their revisions.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    When all you got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail...
  • Reply 2 of 77
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "providing developers with a way to write applications that target and can transition between a variety of devices, including traditional PCs, tablets, and phones."



    This really strikes me as a poor idea.



    ● Why would I want to run a scaled down phone app on a desktop computer?

    ● Why would I want to include the overhead needed to scale up to the desktop in an app meant to run on a phone?

    ● Why would I want to write a tablet app that required a mouse?



    Phones, tablets, and true computers are three very different devices with very different usage patterns. Trying to shoehorn everything into one way of doing things is probably not the way to go.
  • Reply 3 of 77
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I get the eventual move to get a desktop OS on ARM but I can’t fathom that even MS would still think that a desktop OS on a tablet makes sense.



    Maybe they are trying to make the first decent multi-UI OS. The Motorola Atrix certainly doesn’t provide a decent desktop environment to users.
  • Reply 4 of 77
    irontedironted Posts: 129member
    I can finally read <a href="http://www.bookase.com/">cheap textbooks</a> on Windows 8 for tablets.
  • Reply 5 of 77
    grkinggrking Posts: 533member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I get the eventual move to get a desktop OS on ARM but I can’t fathom that even MS would still think that a desktop OS on a tablet makes sense.



    Maybe they are trying to make the first decent multi-UI OS. The Motorola Atrix certainly doesn’t provide a decent desktop environment to users.





    The OS will have different UI's based on the form factor. Unlike what magicj might think, the tablet OS will not require a mouse, but will have a touch OS based on the Metro style of WP7.



    If you want a glimpse of what it may be like, download the new Bing app for the iPad. Several people have commented that the app may give insight into the Win 8 UI for tablets.



    The article is not particularly well written as MS has been quite clear that Win 8 will be a multi UI OS, and not "An early build of Windows 8 suggests that Microsoft may transition the next version of Windows to a cross-platform OS across a variety of devices"
  • Reply 6 of 77
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grking View Post


    The OS will have different UI's based on the form factor. Unlike what magicj might think, the tablet OS will not require a mouse, but will have a touch OS based on the Metro style of WP7.



    Which is pretty much my point. Apps designed for mice and apps designed for touch are designed differently.



    For example, mice allow for much smaller areas of control, whereas touch allows for much easier use of gestures. The UI _designs_ aren't going to be the same. The fact that an OS can support both types of UIs doesn't solve that problem.



    Nor does the ability to support multiple UIs solve the problem that capabilities of different devices are vastly different. There is little point to trying to run the desktop version of, say, Photoshop, on a phone. The hardware capabilities just aren't there. Similarly, there is little point in a content creation shop trying to use the phone version of Photoshop on their desktops. The software capabilities just aren't there.



    You _want_ different apps for different devices.
  • Reply 7 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Why would I want to run a scaled down phone app on a desktop computer?



    It's not about running the exact same application. Just the same backend code. The UI is switched out to target different form factors and end-user experiences.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Why would I want to include the overhead needed to scale up to the desktop in an app meant to run on a phone?



    Now that is a damn good question. There isn't any code overhead in supporting multiple UI's in a well written application, however the resources will be embedded in the AppX package (From memory it's just a zip file).



    That said, not all AppX packages need to be universal. You could write the one application with multiple UI's, then compile and release multiple packages to target each user experience.



    Does anyone know how Apple do this? When I download a universal app (i.e. iPhone + iPhone retina display + iPad) does the package contain three separate sets of resources? If I load this app onto a 3GS does it load all resources or does it strip out the iPad and retina display resources?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Why would I want to write a tablet app that required a mouse?



    As above. Applications written to support the tablet interface will have a separate touch UI to support that user experience.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Phones, tablets, and true computers are three very different devices with very different usage patterns.



    Again, it's not so much about shoe horning the PC experience into a tablet or a phone but supporting multiple user experiences on different devices using the same backend code.
  • Reply 8 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    When all you got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail...



    That's not even remotely accurate. It's basically the opposite.



    This is Microsoft accepting that you can't shoe-horn the Windows UI into every device (like they tried to with tablets and phones for a decade) and that each different device has a different user experience demands a custom UI built for it.
  • Reply 9 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    An early build of Windows 8 suggests that Microsoft may transition the next version of Windows to a cross-platform OS scalable across a variety of devices in hopes of competing with Apple's iOS platform, according to new reports.



    So they (Microsoft / MS) plan to defeat iOS and Mac OS is to make a Windows OS that will be used in every devices they can get their hands on.. Yup, it's Windows everywhere alrite.. We're doomed if this truly come true..



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Microsoft's board has put pressure on Ballmer to improve the company's performance in the mobile space. Last year, an SEC filing revealed that the CEO had been criticized for "the unsuccessful launch of the Kin phone; loss of market share in the company's mobile phone business; and the need for the company to pursue innovations to take advantage of new form factors."



    I'm more surprised MS' board only put pressure on Ballmer, why they don't "break" him instead into two and then toss him out into the garbage bin.. (just like Acer recently did to their former CEO)
  • Reply 10 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I get the eventual move to get a desktop OS on ARM but I can?t fathom that even MS would still think that a desktop OS on a tablet makes sense.



    Maybe they are trying to make the first decent multi-UI OS. The Motorola Atrix certainly doesn?t provide a decent desktop environment to users.



    That's what it looks like at this point.



    However I still think they will release a version of Windows 8 running on ARM that is locked to the tablet UI and I think, at least from the beginning, the phones will be locked to the phone UI as well.



    ARM Windows 8 running the desktop UI makes zero sense to me.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Well, it's one thing to make it cross-CPU but Windows is still a memory hog if I recall. And .NET especially so. We will have to see how well it performs on a little bitty smartphone.
  • Reply 12 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    Nor does the ability to support multiple UIs solve the problem that capabilities of different devices are vastly different. There is little point to trying to run the desktop version of, say, Photoshop, on a phone. The hardware capabilities just aren't there. Similarly, there is little point in a content creation shop trying to use the phone version of Photoshop on their desktops. The software capabilities just aren't there.



    You _want_ different apps for different devices.



    You want different UI's for different devices. Sometimes the functionality of the app will be totally different (as with Photoshop), sometimes it will be the same, but most of the time at least some of the functionality is the same and can benefit from shared code.
  • Reply 13 of 77
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    It's not about running the exact same application. Just the same backend code. The UI is switched out to target different form factors and end-user experiences.



    The point being that's _exactly_ what you don't want to do. While it's true that phones and desktops have different UIs, the UIs aren't the only differences.



    For example, you don't want the desktop version of iMovie to be limited to the functionality that you can fit on a phone. And you don't want to try to cram all the functionality of a desktop app into a phone.



  • Reply 14 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    Well, it's one thing to make it cross-CPU but Windows is still a memory hog if I recall. And .NET especially so. We will have to see how well it performs on a little bitty smartphone.



    I think that is the most important question about Win8. Microsoft's plan seems incredibly ambitious, but it may be foolishly so.



    I think if they were not tied to Windows legacy support they would have a good chance... but trying to develop a modern cross device/UI/architecture OS whilst being dragged down by the heavy business requirements placed on them... I'm not so confident.



    Dot Net sucks up a lot of memory, which is why I think they'll use a subset similar to Silverlight (like WP7).



    From memory W7 Starter runs with the desktop UI and legacy support around 300MB RAM.



    This is part of the reason my money is on multiple Windows 8 versions. Some with legacy support and multiple UIs (with heavier system requirements) and others with support for the Windows Marketplace only...



    My guess...
    • Win Phone 8 - ARM/x86. All applications written to Silverlight/XNA.

    • Win Tab 8/ARM - Metro UI. Only supports Silverlight/XNA via Marketplace (although Office will have to be ARM native).

    • Win Tab 8/x86 - Dual UI. Standard Windows and Metro. Legacy as well as Silverlight/XNA support. Dock-able.

    • Win 8 - Standard Windows UI. Legacy as well as Silverlight/XNA support.

    • Xbox Next - I'm not sure. Support for Silverlight and the Marketplace has been rumoured.

  • Reply 15 of 77
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    When all you got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail...



    What an unexpected yet delightful post. Microsoft is truly behind the "8" ball here.
  • Reply 16 of 77
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    ARM Windows 8 running the desktop UI makes zero sense to me.



    Which means that will probably be what Microsoft will do. You see, it's alawys the opposite of common sense for them.
  • Reply 17 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by magicj View Post


    The point being that's _exactly_ what you don't want to do. While it's true that phones and desktops have different UIs, the UIs aren't the only differences.



    For example, you don't want the desktop version of iMovie to be limited to the functionality that you can fit on a phone. And you don't want to try to cram all the functionality of a desktop app into a phone.







    There are going to be examples of apps that share no similar functionality at all, and there are going to be examples of apps that share all the same functionality.



    However, most of the time apps are going to share at least some of the same functionality.



    If the functionality between devices is the same you have the option of a universal package using the same back-end code targeting different UI's.



    If only some of the functionality is shared then only a subset of the main functionality would be included.



    Just because there are some example where none of functionality is shared doesn't mean they should drop the entire concept of cross device apps. Personally I think one of the biggest benefits of the iPhone/iPad is that apps released for one device are often released for the other.
  • Reply 18 of 77
    firefly7475firefly7475 Posts: 1,502member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post


    Which means that will probably be what Microsoft will do. You see, it's alawys the opposite of common sense for them.



    I suppose we can't rule that out!!



    Whenever I think there is something there is just no way Microsoft would do... I'm reminded of the Kin.
  • Reply 19 of 77
    magicjmagicj Posts: 406member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


    However, most of the time apps are going to share at least some of the same functionality.



    You don't want to be including unused desktop code in a phone app. You're just taking up valuable space on the phone for code that can't be used.



    You want different apps for the different devices. Any shared code can be put in a library.



    Seriously, the idea of "Same code, different UI" doesn't fit most cross-device apps. They're different code, different UIs, even different use cases.
  • Reply 20 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Adding to the mounting evidence of a cross-platform strategy from Microsoft is the January news that Microsoft is working on a port of Windows 8 to ARM's System on a Chip (SoC) architecture.



    ARM's chip designs, which make an appearance in Apple's A4 and A5 SoCs, have rapidly outsold Intel's X86 chips, which have struggled to meet the low-power requirements of modern mobile devices, in the mobile market.



    This just strikes me at the last second, but by putting Windows on ARM system wouldn't this mean Microsoft will be bringing its famous BSoD to smartphones and tablets..? Well I'll be damn..
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