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Windows Phone and Windows RT Merger Could Take 2 Years

Microsoft insider MSFTnerd claims that the new executive vice president of operating systems, Terry Myerson, has decided to slowly merge Windows RT and Windows Phone over the next two years. This will supposedly be accomplished by releasing three regular General Distribution Release (GDR) updates per year. Based on recent rumors, the move may actually begin this spring with the release of the new storefront merging Windows Phone with Windows 8.

Hints of a Windows Phone/RT merge appeared this time last month. A source named WZOR claimed that the company has mentioned this several times in the past, but didn't provide any additional details regarding merger plans. Instead, the source talked about Microsoft's supposed rollout plan of Windows 9 and Windows 10, with the latter being completely different than Windows 9 and the current release. Whether these OS releases are merely Windows 8.2 and 8.3 is unknown at this point.

Talk of the Phone/RT merge appeared again after a Microsoft financial analyst meeting with Terry Myserson, Julie Larson-Green, Kirill Tatarinov, Qi Lu and Satya Nadella. Myserson stated that phones would extend into tablets, hinting that the two ARM-based platforms would eventually become one. Later on, he also said the Windows team was shooting for one silicon interface, one set of APIs, one cloud service and one storefront, but individualized experiences for each form factor.

"Our team is now organized in this way," Myerson said. "We [have] a core team that will bring those silicon interfaces together, bring those developer platforms together, and approach delivery of apps to the customers in a common way. We have one team delivering the core services that will light up our devices. And then we have satellite teams each focused on each of the device categories, so each of them can be reflective of what the customer expects in that place."

Both Windows RT and Windows Phone are expected to receive a major update in the spring, AKA Spring 2014 GDR on the Windows RT front and GDR3 on the Windows Phone front. Also slated to arrive in this time period is the Surface Mini tablet, the Surface 2 LTE tablet, Modern UI apps for Office, and the new Windows Store. This will be the biggest Windows Phone 8 update since the platform rolled out in Fall 2012.

Having one platform for ARM architecture and one for x86, no matter the form factor, should help streamline the updating process for the OS team, and present a more unified experience across all Windows-based devices. Perhaps then Microsoft should stick with its current Surface scheme and go with Windows Pro for the x86-based systems, and with a generic Windows (Lite?) brand for ARM-based units. Or would that be too confusing?

  • Parsian
    stupid them for not trying to do this at the beginning.
    Reply
  • bourgeoisdude
    That's five years too long. Seriously, it's time for MS to innovate and wow us again. I'm tired of hearing about what will happen in two years only to find two years later that the other two companies have surpassed them.
    Reply
  • stevejnb
    Well, I'd expect at *least* a year, as the most powerful phones out there would currently be brought to their knees by the OS. My current hope for my next phone is something with Windows RT that works as well as my Surface RT and has an HDMI output port. All of the sudden, my phone isn't just a PDA/stopgap measure, but a very functional work "computer."

    As it stands, for many types of productivity, Windows RT blows Android - which I used for note-taking/paper writing/research for almost two years - and iOS out of the water. The more they refine the OS and the more form factors they get it into at reasonable prices, the happier I am. If they do take too long though, back to Android I go.
    Reply
  • Cryio
    Wait, what? I know GDR2 just launched last month but ... GDR3 in SPRING? That is too long.
    Reply
  • Bloob
    Wait, what? I know GDR2 just launched last month but ... GDR3 in SPRING? That is too long.
    Win 8.1 GDR3 will come at the same time as WP8.1.

    I liked MS's approach of appreciating that a tablet is more than a big phone.
    Reply
  • JD88
    Most current phones are actually far more powerful than the 1st gen Surface RT. Having said that, here's to hoping the merge will favor the Windows Phone side of things as it's not nearly as much of a resource and disk space hog.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    I know people are moaning "they should have done this right away" well at least they are going to do it, so quitchabitchin - good call on merging, if tablets and phones have 1 OS, (just like iOS and Android), they will hopefully still share some core components from full Windows, so WP Apps in Marketplace run on x86 Windows, (which Apple doesn't do with iOS and OSX, or Google with Android and ChromeOS). I have a sneaky feeling however that ChromeOS will eventually allow Android Apps, but I doubt Apple will ever allow iOS Apps to run on OSX.
    Reply
  • stevejnb
    11679237 said:
    Most current phones are actually far more powerful than the 1st gen Surface RT. Having said that, here's to hoping the merge will favor the Windows Phone side of things as it's not nearly as much of a resource and disk space hog.

    Heh, I guess that's true. I'm using an almost two year old phone and I guess my head is still stuck in 1gb of RAM with a dual core processor. Need to pay more attention to phone specs.

    Disk space is currently a problem for common SSD capacities, but, that's a problem that I suspect will diminish as time goes on, and not much time at that. Simply put, an SSD that was $500 a year ago is now going on sale for $200. This is likely to only improve and, as such, larger OS's like RT with a lot of stuff crammed into them will likely not be as big a problem as they have been with solid state drives getting larger and cheaper at a rapid pace. I'm also starting to see some companies cutting storage storage space price increases down from $100 to $50 per storage category - hopefully something that becomes more common.

    I realize we look at things differently with you having a "device for every venue" mentality where I have a "one device to rule them all mentality," but frankly, keeping more of the goodies in RT is something I would like to do, rather than stripping the OS down to a relatively light phone OS. I want all of my device drivers, support for more large-display type programs, etc.
    Reply
  • AMRooke
    I had heard previously that Windows Phone GDR3 would be released Nov/Dec timeframe, with 8.1 (aka Blue) to follow in the spring . . .
    Reply
  • Asok Smith
    Meanwhile, as Microsoft radically rethinks their mobile strategy (yet again), the rest of the mobile world's trains keep chugging along, leaving Microsoft standing still in an ever receding cloud of cinders and ashes.
    Reply