This morning at the company's shareholders' meeting, a shareholder asked if we were in the post-PC era.
He started off his answer by insisting that we will ALWAYS be in the Windows era, then said "We've got broad Windows initiatives, driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8."*
However, Microsoft now says he was talking generally about driving Windows down to the phone, and then went on to talk about other Windows 8 form factors, like tablets.
Microsoft execs have said that they plan to unify the mobile and desktop platforms in coming years.
However, this probably does NOT mean that the next version of Windows Phone will look and run exactly the same as the Windows 8 desktop — phones and PCs are different animals in Microsoft's view, and therefore require different interfaces.
But it could mean that the next version of Windows Phone will use the same NT kernel that's at the heart of the Windows desktop and Windows Server operating systems, instead of the CE kernel that has been the basis of all Microsoft mobile platforms. This has been the subject of some intense speculation among Microsoft watchers recently, and Ballmer just seemed to confirm it.
That could make it easier to port apps between multiple Microsoft devices, including PCs, tablets, and phones. There are other factors as well — PCs will use Intel-type x86 and x64 chips for the foreseeable future, while phones will probably stay on ARM-based processors, with tablets spanning both worlds.
But in general, it makes sense for Microsoft to maintain and support only one kernel for all platforms.
*Update: Microsoft says that Ballmer didn't say that Windows 8 is coming to Windows Phone. Here's the official transcript:
We've got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone. With Windows 8, you'll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays.
Todd Bishop at Geekwire heard it this way as well.
We've got broad Windows initiatives, driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8, you'll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows, from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays.
But pause or no pause, that's not what he meant.
Check it out yourself, the question starts at 47:22 and Ballmer starts his answer around 47:30. (Listen carefully because you can only fast-forward, not rewind the recording. Annoying!)
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