Microsoft Envisions One Windows OS To Rule Them All

Microsoft's vision of one interface isn't exactly fresh news, as we saw Windows chief Terry Myerson make this revelation back in September. Currently, Microsoft has three consumer operating systems: Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1 and Windows Phone 8. The latter mobile phone platform is expected to be upgraded to v8.1 in the spring, launched along with a new Windows Store and Windows 8.1/RT update that will mark the beginning of the company's unified approach.

Microsoft's head of devices, Julie Larson-Green, hinted to this approach while speaking at the UBS Global Technology Conference last week. "We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We're not going to have three," she said.

Microsoft couldn't be any clearer than that, and it fits within the company's new One Microsoft push. "We do think there's a world where there is a more mobile operating system that doesn't have the risks to battery life, or the risks to security. But, it also comes at the cost of flexibility. So we believe in that vision and that direction and we're continuing down that path," she added.

As it stands now, Microsoft has created a unified design style across desktop, mobile and console, but the app ecosystem is divided between x86 and ARM-based architectures, as well as form factors. One of the biggest complaints thus far is a lack of a common store shared between all three platforms. However, the Spring 2014 updates will supposedly tear down the walls between smartphone, tablet and desktop.

In addition to the One Platform talk, there's speculation that Larson-Green eluded to Microsoft's unannounced wearable tech projects including the supposed Surface smartwatch and the Xbox-targeting, Google Glass competitor. She began saying that sensors -- which have really beefed up in phones like the Motorola MOTO X and LG G2 -- are going to become a big part of how we think about things.

"So some of the things we've been talking about -- you see all these fitness devices that people wear on their wrists and they do some interesting things," she said. "What's the extension of that? What are the sensors and things that we could build that would help you in your daily life, from telling you that you didn't quite do your pushups as far down as you really thought you could go, to letting you know that your heart rate is too high and you must be stressed out, take a deep breath, to letting you know when your bus is running late at your bus stop and -- your bus stop is running late. And that's why we've been focusing on natural user interface for a while, working on that."

Earlier in the Q&A she hinted to wearable tech again, saying that mobility will continue to change, expand beyond the smartphone, tablet and ultra-thin notebook to the home, and to the body.

"It's going to continue to evolve. It's a very exciting time to kind of have this services strategy where you can get access to all the data and information that you care about, the people, the documents, your entertainment, all the things in your life from whatever is most convenient to you at the time," she said. "And so looking at the family of devices, mobility is a huge part of how people live and work and interact today. So we'll be there with those devices."

To read the full Q&A with Julie Larson-Green, head here.

  • danwat1234
    Thank goodness for Start8 and retroUI, keeping the benefits of Window 8(.1) while having the GUI of Windows 7.
  • vaughn2k
    This would be fun to watch.. ;)
  • someguynamedmatt
    So we're purposely trying to turn my desktop computer into a glorified smartphone. We're not just trying to make Windows look like Windows Phone, we're actually trying to make the two into one OS. Awesome. Thanks, Microsoft.

    "One of the biggest complaints thus far is a lack of a common store shared between all three platforms."
    Really? That's the biggest complaint? How many people have you heard saying 'Man, I wish there was another proprietary software store installed on my system right now, especially one that I can use from my phone, too'?

    I'm gonna go fire up the good old IBM PS/2 Model 80... times like this I need the sounds of a massive chunk of DOS-powered hardware spinning up. Remember MFM disk drives? They were never trying to smartphone-ify those.
  • Mike Friesen
    And in the darkness bind them. Hahaha, best thing I've read today.
  • tomfreak
    They do have a interesting position, dominance in PCs, have a consoles, tablet/phone OS. I would hope they have a unify store front where I buy a PC App and get an App for all platform as well. For ex. buying a game on PC get u an Xbox/phone copy.

    I'm not sure how they gonna make this work well on all the diff platform. I'll sit tight & wait and see how they do it, instead of having a negative view b4 OS come out

    oh btw, brace myself, expecting incoming win8 hater storming in here for their unreasonable hatred that they keep singing again again and again for 9999 times.
  • f-14
    when pigs fly to the moon.
  • SchizoFrog
    It's a joke that people keep harping on about the changes MS are trying to make to bring them back in to the game. Remember when MS didn't try to change things? Along came Apple with the iPhone and iPods and revolutionised the way we use mobile phones and listened to music on the move, not long after Android came along too.
    What is it exactly with a modern MS OS that you can't do that has you complaining all the time?
    Personally I like changes to technology, not just advancements along the same paths but complete changes in direction and I think the next few years is going to be very interesting.
  • w8gaming
    The biggest obstacle to this vision is Windows desktop OS takes more than 10Gb of storage. Mobile phone still stuck with 16Gb storage mostly. And there are so much overheard in the desktop OS which is fine on deskto due to the powerful CPU while the most expensive mobile CPU is still at Atom level of performance. The mobile phone will have to cost twice or more than a mainstream desktop in order to run this One Windows OS comfortably.
  • John Bauer
    This is what I fear.

    Microsoft is trying to become Apple.
  • SteelCity1981
    Googles Chrome OS will capitalize over Microsofts mistakes in the coming years with its OSes.