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Windows RT looking more likely to “merge” with Windows Phone

Windows Phones could get bigger while Windows RT tablets get smaller. In fact, the two platforms are likely to share apps, based on comments from Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson. ZDNet tuned in to Microsoft’s analyst call on Thursday and heard Myerson say this:

“Windows RT was our first ARM tablet. And as phones extend into tablets, expect us to see many more ARM tablets, Windows ARM tablets in the future.”

Both Microsoft’s phones and tablets already share a fairly common hardware architecture: They run on ARM-based(s armh) chips, for example, and use flash memory for storage. The biggest hardware difference between the two are the screen sizes: One is small enough to fit in a pocket while the other is bigger for a more immersive experience. To some extent that’s already changing: Nokia(s nok) is reportedly working on a 6-inch Windows Phone.

Back in February we had additional clues of this strategy: Microsoft posted a job opening that suggested application unification across Windows Phone and Windows 8. Surely Windows RT is part of that strategy; with the tiled interface it’s far more like Windows Phone than Windows 8.

I haven’t been kind to Windows RT in the past. Not because I don’t like the platform or the hardware that runs it. But it never represented a good value compared to full Windows 8 tablets with similar battery life and performance with no price premium. But unifying phones and tablets with cross-device applications could change that value proposition. Let’s see what Microsoft cooks up.

5 Responses to “Windows RT looking more likely to “merge” with Windows Phone”

  1. calahasian

    @ Kevin,
    What Terry refered to is the merging of the runtimes. Windows and Windows RT both use Windows Runtime layer for access to OS libraries, firmware, drivers etc. Essentially Windows Runtime SDK represents all of Windows PC/tablet ecosystem. And Windows Phone OS uses Windows Phone Runtime. Windows Phone Runtime shares some but not all APIs with Windows Runtime. Extending Windows Runtime to support phone and other telecom APIs supported on Windows Runtime will pretty much make sure that Windows Phone apps can run on Windows tablets or Windows RT tablets.

    Remember app development code on Windows can be complied and run against both Intel and ARM CPUs using Windows Runtime APIs using C#/VB/XAML .NET VM. Even most native C/C++ code can be reused. But C# is the easiest way to develop for both platforms at the same time. And most of the apps on the Windows Store (some 85K) are compiled for both platforms.

    The problem is not if the app runs on Intel or ARM CPU. The problem for Microsoft is a relaunch question for Windows Phone apps. They have two app stores now and they will need to merge the two and convey the same in a coherent marketing message to end users.

    I think this is possible since it can be marketed as a unique and salient business point for Microsoft against Apple and Google and Samsung platforms (and Amazon too). None of the other players publicly yet talk about unification of app stores or form factor platforms.

    • calahasian

      Too early to say anything.

      It took Microsoft 11 years from 1981 till 1992 to dethrone MacOS and Commodore and Amiga and other home computer machines.

      I would think we are on year 6 of the 10 or 15 year consumer platform war. We are in the 1st one-third of the war and results are not complete yet for the mobile market. I will not count Microsoft out so long as Bill G is the chairman of Microsoft. He has a way of recouping investment that few can see through. But he is not an active manager for Microsoft. And neither will be Steve B. So may be Microsoft has lost it permanently this time but let us wait another 10 years before we proclaim it.