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?