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Monday, July 18, 2011

Windows 8 Brings a Unified Ecosystem of Devices

Windows 8 is the first operating system from Microsoft designed to usher in an ecosystem of unified devices, according to Andrew Lees, president, Windows Phone Division and Kevin Turner, chief operating officer, both of which took the stage at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2011 earlier this week.

Since the software giant confirmed support for Systems on a Chip architectures in Windows 8 earlier this year at CES 2011, it has become clear that the next major iteration of Windows will be able to run on a range of emerging form factors, with the focus on Tablet PCs / slates.

Talk about a unified ecosystem of devices running Windows 8 has prompted some to conclude that next-generation form factors will all sport Windows 7’s successor, where they’re embedded devices, smartphones, slates, etc.

Personally, I wouldn’t rush to draw this conclusion. Simply because a unified ecosystem of devices is much bigger than just Windows 8, it’s about Windows. And there are a variety of flavors of Windows, some of them with a long tradition. Still, an ecosystem of devices is still possible, even with said devices running different Windows flavors, it’s still just Windows at the core, after all.

“One of the key important things here, though, is the change that's yet to happen, but it's about to happen, and that is the bringing together of these devices into a unified ecosystem, because at the core of the device itself it's possible to be common across phones, PCs, and TVs, and even other things, because the price drops dramatically. Then it will be a single ecosystem. We won't have an ecosystem for PCs, and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They'll all come together. And just look at the opportunity here,” said Andrew Lees, president, Windows Phone Division.

“(…) Our strategy is that these new form factors are within a single ecosystem and not new ecosystems themselves. Windows has always spanned different PC form factors. And with Windows 8 we're going to take this to a whole new level including tablets.”

Kevin Turner, chief operating officer, revealed something similar, also at WPC, indicating that Lees’ mention of a unified ecosystem of devices is not just talk, but a glimpse at Microsoft’s future vision and strategy with the advent of Windows 8.

“So, when you think about the next release of Windows running across X86, ARM, system-on-a-chip, the opportunity to put Windows with an OS that is scalable across those platforms exists in a new and profound way. And where we go in the future of unifying these ecosystems is certainly going to be an exciting ride, but a big, big step forward is about to get made with Windows 8, and this is really important for you to understand,” Turner said.

Windows 8 represents a new opportunity for developers currently building applications for the web. The upcoming release of the Windows OS will play nice with apps created using technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, offering new, immersive experiences.

This alone is an example of ecosystem unification, device-wise, since technologies as those enumerated above can run seamlessly not only on the fully-fledged Windows 8, but also on Windows 8 for ARM, on Windows 8 Embedded, Windows Server 8, etc. But just how far will this go? I guess that only time will tell.

Windows 8 Brings a Unified Ecosystem of Devices

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