Microsoft outlines vision for combining Windows and Windows Phone

By Tom Warren, on 13th Jul 11 10:45 am with 56 Comments

Andy Lees at Worldwide Partner Conference 2011

Microsoft outlined its vision for a single ecosystem on Tuesday.

The vision, one ecosystem for phones and PCs was outlined by Andy Lees, the company’s president of the Windows Phone Division. Lees spoke at a keynote address during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Lees explained that there are key trends that are fundamentally changing the world of devices and form factors. “It starts right at the core of the devices themselves, the core technology,” he said. Lees reflected on Microsoft’s first Windows 8 demo at CES. “The motherboard was smaller than a phone” said Lees. “You can put all of the key things required to run a computer into a single chip.” The system-on-a-chip transformation will assist in the form factors of PCs explained Lees.

Another advantage of system-on-a-chip architecture is that the “price comes down dramatically” said Lees. “A year ago all smartphones cost over $400 when they left their hardware manufacturer.” Lees revealed that the cost has dropped to around $200 now and that next year, phones capable of running Windows Phone 7 will be down to around $100-$150. Lees moved on to discuss Microsoft’s vision of a single ecosystem. “We won’t have an ecosystem for PCs and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They’ll all come together,” he explained. “It’s not that this is about replacing the PC, and that’s why 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. Now, a lot of people have asked me, are we going to produce a phone that is a tablet? You know, are we going to use Windows Phone 7 to produce tablets? Well, that is in conflict with this strategy. We view a tablet as a sort of PC. We want people to be able to do the sorts of things that they expect on a PC on a tablet, things like networking to be able to connect to networks, and utilize networking tools, to get USB drives and plop them into the tablet. To be able to do things like printing, all of the things using Office, using all of the things you would expect from a PC and provide a hybrid about how you can do that with the tablet, as well.”

Lees promised more info on the best of the PC and tablet at the BUILD conference. “Our strategy is not just limited to that. We are aiming to provide coherence and consistency across the PC, the phone and the TV, particularly with Xbox. That’s through providing new types of scenarios, things like the way in which you make the user experience more common.”

Microsoft's unified user interface

  • Hernan Lozano

    Pulling everything together is key.
    A consistent user experience is one of the reasons Apple is so successful.
    Microsoft should speed up the redesigns of all their properties to the new metroUI, so that everything is near done by the time Windows 8 comes out.

  • http://twitter.com/Salem309 Ahmed Salem

    I would love my phone completes my desktop life. And I would love my desktop completes my mobile activities. One unified world is a WIN!

    • Anonymous

      Imagine, when you come home, you just plug your phone into a docking station, switch from the Metro to the desktop Windows UI and use it as your PC.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds great. The only problem I see is storage. Phones just don’t have enough to replace a laptop. Everyhting would have to go to the cloud. This would be fine except you don’t have wifi access everywhere and with carrier going to tiered plans, this could make accessing your data very expensive.

    • jinge

      Are you kidding? Not enough space? 64GB, what are you using it for? Music & movies can go on external drive without any pbs (I don’t think you need 30GB of media on your daily life…), after if you don’t need software like photoshop, or to store XX ISOs, I don’t think you will have a storage problem.. (you can tell me photos, but still the same, you can store it on an external drive, you never need to keep gigs of photos)

    • Anonymous

      You misunderstood. I was replying to the comment to dock the phone and use it as a pc. To do that I would need more the 64gb, especially if I want to put a decent amount of movies on it. .

    • Dhaoracle

      Yes that would be the dream to have all of your personal devices (WPMango, Win8 Computer, Xbox 360, and Windows Media Server) all connected through throughh either an encrytped backdoor or Skydrive. This would be awesome but what would be even more awesome would be the ability to not only be connected through storage but also access and navigate through any of these devices from your phone or computer.

      You would also be able to if you had an external hardrive (1 terabyte for my taste but others might like 500 Gigabytes) have that connect to an encrypted backdoor that would be able to connect to your Skydrive as well as all of your devices (sort of like expandable memory for all of your devices). If Microsoft could create a code/API that would give people the option to expand their SKYDRIVE LIMIT with whatever size external hardive they have then that would make it much easier for them to access their information from anywhere. This would definitely give people even more power over their security as most of the information would be able to be disconnected from an encrytped program on their computers.

      People would have the opportunity to ack up all of their information withought ever running out of space because they would be able to expand on their Skydrive limit to whatever they would like for it to go. That would definitely give all of the devices a definite link as Microsoft could create a link Program that could connect to all Devices (to access and navigate through them).

      Just with this idea this would be connected on unlimited levels besides just being connected through UIs the storage would be able to back-up all devices, access all devices through expandable memory/server, navigate, access games and programs through one point without having it on just one device, scores would be updated and stored much more efficiently, changes to word documents would be faster and more encrypted, and so much more that i can’t think of right now…

      Windows has the right idea all they have to do is implement it the right way, the easy way.

    • Anonymous

      That would be absolutely brilliant!

  • http://twitter.com/AsTh11 Alessandro Grua

    I don’t really understand this though. Windows 8 will run on tablets, that’s ok. But now what’s about Phones? Will Windows 8 also run on them?!

    • Black_knightb

      Windows 8 is for tablets and PCs
      Windows Phone is for the Phone… whats so hard ?
       
      for MS to make a a OS for tablets is a mistake I think, they should run normal windows OS which is simplified to touch friendly hence Win8 so you could use your normal PC programs on the go and plug USBs when needed..and it supports apps… its a win win situation by far, in my opinion Win8 tablets will be a big hit for a PC on the go.

    • http://twitter.com/AsTh11 Alessandro Grua

      Oh okay, I just didn’t really get that, since there were also rumors in the past that Windows one day will also run on phones. Thanks God they will not do this!
      Can’t wait for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8! :)

    • Anonymous

      Well, it will run on phones actually. It won’t feature the “old” Windows UI and it won’t run “old” Windows applications – it’s essentially Windows 8 without the old UI, or in other words, Windows 8 with the Start screen as its only UI.

      What that means is, that the apps that run on Windows Phone will also run within the Windows 8 Start screen (or Windows 8 tablet UI, if you will). It’s similar to Android Honeycomb apps that can automatically scale to phones and tablets, without changing the underlying code of the application.

    • rojo

      MS actually is on record saying that they want to merge the codebases of windows phone and windows OS so that the phone and PC share the same core operating system. In my mind this is not such a bad idea as long as the UI’s will be different.

    • CandidCalum

      In what way do you mean different? In my opinion, the UI of the Windows build that runs on phones should be as similar to that of Windows as possible; obviously the Start screen should work in a portrait mode as well as landscape like the current Windows 8 Start screen, and some tiles will need to be smaller with perhaps less information, but things like default tile colours and the default background colour should be the same on both the phone and PC :)

    • Anonymous

      That’s what it will be like.

    • Guest

      YES! That’s Apollo !!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sebastian-Halbig/100000160823016 Sebastian Halbig

      Not directly. On Smartphones there will be Windows Phone 8.

    • Anonymous

      Windows Phone 8 is Windows 8.

    • Anonymous

      Windows 8 will probably not run on phones because of the vast UI differences. They might use the kernel from Windows 8 (NT) and get rid of the Windows CE kernel Windows Phone currently uses.

    • Anonymous

      The phone UI will be very similar to the Windows 8 Start screen, so Windows Phone will essentially be Windows 8 without the “old” stuff – the apps that run on Windows Phone will likely run within the Windows 8 Start screen, too – thus, Windows Phone will be like Windows 8 with all non-finger-friendly elements removed and some additional security stuff added.

    • Anonymous

      No, just no. Microsoft isn’t going to waste the time spent on developing WP7 just to start over again and try to fit Windows 8 (kernel and all) into a phone. Windows 8 lack alot of phone features that are needed, and the tablet UI isn’t going to work on a phone. The only thing that really makes sense is to phase out the CE kernel that runs underneath WP7 in favor of the NT kernel. One codebase is easier to maintain than two. This is actually something that has been in the works for some time within Microsoft Research.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not a waste of time! WP7 applications will still run once they bring Windows NT to phones, because they’re developed in Silverlight/C#.

      They’re not stupid – they knew they couldn’t bring Windows to phones within a few years, but they made sure WP7 wasn’t a waste of time at all.

      WP7 is a showcase of what Windows on phones will look like once it’s ready, but it’s not the real deal. The future is Windows NT.

    • Impartial

      I think, as in when phones are powerful enough and have good enough batteries, we will have full blown windows on phones, that when plugged in to a monitor will use different UIs (think asus padfone or plugging your phone to a desktop set up without the tower), a bit like Win8 using dual UI, I think by the time we have Win10, we will see a triple UI baked right in to Windows. And because metro is now everywhere, the learning curve and change between UIs will be minimum. Also think that metro is the only UI that works with keyboard, mouse, touch and kinect in a seamless way. Microsoft is amazing!

    • jinge

      I agree and it would be great :)
      We already see that kind of behavior with a motorola phone, plugable on a dock I think?
      Maybe also more and more adaptable-ui apps, to be able to use it remotely (like server administration tools, but if you extend it to domotic tools it could be awesome)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mitch-Foster/100000527225418 Mitch Foster

      The guy specifically states the Win8 will not be one phones.  Windows Phone is for the phones, and as he says: “Well, that is in conflict with this strategy. We view a tablet as a sort of PC.”

      Conflict in strategy pertaining to using Win8 on a phone (:

      It’s pretty straightforward haha

    • Impartial

      You misinterpreted my comment. My personal vision was for this triple UI to happen around Win10, not Win8.

      Besides, something along these lines can already happen as there are phones already running full blown windows 7, see link below for reference:

      http://news.cnet.com/fujitsu-phone-dual-boots-symbian-windows-7/8301-17938_105-20063418-1.html

      So at the moment, RIGHT NOW, they could have phones which dual boot Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 depending on the environment you are in.

      If any OEM launches a dual boot, I buy, specially with quad-core phones round the corner

    • Anonymous

      That would be awesome.

      Phones will replaces desktops and laptops for people… it’s the next step.

      Come home, dock the phone, use it as a Windows PC machine. Leaving? Grab the phone, it switches to mobile tiles UI, while saving/freezing work for you in the desktop UI.

      All the data should be available to both UIs though, if you added a bookmark to IE in the desktop UI, it should immediately show up in the mobile UI IE aswell. The same database.

      Fantastic!

    • Impartial

      I think, as in when phones are powerful enough and have good enough batteries, we will have full blown windows on phones, that when plugged in to a monitor will use different UIs (think asus padfone or plugging your phone to a desktop set up without the tower), a bit like Win8 using dual UI, I think by the time we have Win10, we will see a triple UI baked right in to Windows. And because metro is now everywhere, the learning curve and change between UIs will be minimum. Also think that metro is the only UI that works with keyboard, mouse, touch and kinect in a seamless way. Microsoft is amazing!

    • Anonymous

      Look closer, did you notice that when they did the snap feature in the new interface that is wasn’t half screen but closer to a quarter… That is windows phone 8.  Full screen applications will look like the tablet form but snapped they will use the windows phone layout.  The UI for the phone and tablet won’t be the same but they will be similar.  It will probably change depending on use from phone to tablet/TV/simple desktop to power desktop

    • guest

      I guess the next iteration of WP7.5 is WP8 which will coincide with the release of Windows 8 across all platforms.

  • jinge

    I think Windows 8 will be the key for the success of Windows Phone. For people used to the new metro UI on Windows 8 and other devices, it is going to be much more tempting to switch to Windows Phone… Which is really a good product I think, so it deserves it.

    • Clark

      Yeah. People ‘will’ switch to WP7 more once Windows 8 is out and everyone becomes familiar with Metro UI.

    • http://twitter.com/RobertCFP Robert Wade

      I think you’re correct.  Right now, WP7 is having a difficult time grabbing folks.  If Win8 becomes the new meme—and it will obviously have a MUCH larger customer base to influence—then it will be more “natural” for people to expect the same experience on their tablet or phone.  The apps that run under Windows desktop will need to “catch up” to the new meme.  Once that happens and you no longer have the phenomenon of “jumping out” to the legacy look, I think the move between desktop, tablet and phone will be seamless….and make sense over any other platform.

    • Paul York

      Gosh, it worked so well for the Start button. Just caused Pocket PC/Windows Mobile to fly off the shelves.  I might be wrong, but I think the folks that are calling on the unification of “experiences” between mobile, highly focused, touch-based and inherently consumption-centric devices and fixed, diverse, KBM, content-creation devices are quite naive. Read the reviews of OSX Lion. It doesn’t work. I’m quite concerned with what I’ve seen of Win8.

      In the past what has made Apple successful is their intense focus on getting a product “right.” Right for THAT product. It is most certainly not the unification of the “experience.” It is only with Lion that the iOS and OSX products are even beginning to resemble one another. And Apple TV will continue to be totally different.

      The key to WP7′s success will be keeping up with the fast pace of hardware change (to combat Android) and becoming both feature complete (Mango’s close) and a single solution complete with all of the “core” apps (depends on how you define “core,” but as one small example, until they’ve got Audible book support, they’re out of the question for me and a few million others).

      Getting people “used to” Metro is not going to magically win converts and solve the woes of the win ecosystem. Sorry Andy.

    • Anonymous

      audible has annouced that a wp7 app is on the way!

    • http://twitter.com/furdworetzky Fur Dworetzky

      OSX Lion obviously failed in its goal of unification. But that doesn’t mean Windows 8 will fail.

      Is there some kind of law somewhere that an interface has to be different on a touch-based device than on a desktop? Don’t you think it might be possible for there to be an interface which works on both types of devices?

    • Grs_dev

      i actually do think a touch based interface and a peripheral driven interface are quite different; however, I do believe that a single platform can support both. With that said, said platform will become monolithic and difficult to manage and force its owner to mandate release cycles rather than develop at the pace of business. Developing at the pace of business is something that google has been able to claim a preception for. To me it’s a skewed preception since they seem to hide behind the “beta” label and the hippyish attitude of practically giving the product away when in reality their business model does not hinge on them charging a license fee to support their products.

      Going back to the topic though, what I do like about what Microsoft is doing here is the idea that I (even if just in theory) can make use of software I’ve acquired on any platform I chose to jump to. Be it phone, desktop, slate, or big screen, if I wanna make use of a certain application, why should I be restricted to 1 device or 1 form factor rather.

      Case in point, I downloaded Alpha Jax and was playing it and enjoying it actually until my phone battery died. I found myself tethering to juice up my phone so that I can continue a round I had started. Then it dawned onto me! Why don’t they make my windows phone apps playable on the zune client or something! It makes the zune PC client more useful and gives WP a unique feature that users of other competing platforms cannot enjoy at this time!!!! I am not saying that WP8 and Win8 will let me do that but making the technology do something like that isn’t a huge stretch once you unify the codebase.

  • http://thommck.wordpress.com Thom McKiernan

    Nice to see they publicly confirm their direction to merge all the platforms.

    Some people (like commentators here) seem to have a bit of an issue with this concept. What do you think a smartphone is? Something really special and unique? How is it any different to a 3g touch tablet apart from the form factor?Microsoft aren’t trying to squeeze Windows 8 onto a phone, Windows 8 will just naturally work on a phones hardware because of the evolution of hardware and a refined kernel.

    Maybe you should think of it like this, Windows Vista has the same kernel OS as Server 2008 and Windows 7 as Server 2008R2. The thing that differentiates them is the hardware and usage. It will be the same for the Windows Phone 9.

  • http://thommck.wordpress.com Thom McKiernan

    Nice to see they publicly confirm their direction to merge all the platforms.

    Some people (like commentators here) seem to have a bit of an issue with this concept. What do you think a smartphone is? Something really special and unique? How is it any different to a 3g touch tablet apart from the form factor?Microsoft aren’t trying to squeeze Windows 8 onto a phone, Windows 8 will just naturally work on a phones hardware because of the evolution of hardware and a refined kernel.

    Maybe you should think of it like this, Windows Vista has the same kernel OS as Server 2008 and Windows 7 as Server 2008R2. The thing that differentiates them is the hardware and usage. It will be the same for the Windows Phone 9.

  • http://twitter.com/blacksvk BlackSVK

    Am I only who think that new Windows 8 tiles-based UI on computers without touchscreen is bad idea?

    • jinge

      It depends, if you can still have the taskbar with it or not… I think it can be great to replace the desktop with useful information.
      I have many icons on my desktop, but I never use them, information like n° of mails, few rss, connection availability, meteo, and very few shortcuts, could be a great thing

      I also think they should provide a better way to manage installed apps (I know the market place will do a part of the job, but not sure it is enough)

    • Anonymous

      The tile-based UI is still good with or without touchscreen. Think of Zune client, and media player. Acutally the majority of computer users are still going to use mouse 99% percent of time in the next 200 million years, even you give them touch screen. But the tiles are good not because of touch. This is the key.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=51202276 Chris Hemphill

      Additionally, don’t forget that Win 8 will be compatible with the Kinect and you’ll have access to the startbar/desktop type interface as well on pc and tablet.  

    • Anonymous

      Look closer, the old UI is still there in the ARM builds.  What is significant about that?  Well since there is no backwards compatibility in ARM with legacy applications that means the desktop is here to stay.  It will no doubt recieve upgrades and probably look more metro-ish but it is not going anywhere.   The tile  based start menu is a companion not a replacement.

    • Anonymous

      No one has said there wont be some level of legacy support… native compiles targeting x86-64 wont work (emulation would be almost impossible) but .Net can target multiple platforms, and if it has a full WinAPI then a recompile may be fairly straightforward. I guess it depends on your definition of “legacy”.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think it will have the win32 api.  The rumor is that they have broken legacy compatability with win32/64 and replacing it with a new WinRT api.  The old win 32 will still be there in x86/64 builds but not the ARM builds (mostly due to resource constraints).  While .net is not out of the question, my guess is that the .net version going forward will be mostly incompatable due to the new api.  The new UI is just the tip of the iceberg of the changes coming to Windows 8.  There is a lot going on under the new skin, alot more than people realize. 

  • http://twitter.com/blacksvk BlackSVK

    Am I only who think that new Windows 8 tiles-based UI on computers without touchscreen is bad idea?

  • Renzo

    So does this mean Ballmer can only say the word “Developer!” once per keynote?

    • Revolutions

      Well played, sir.

  • Anonymous

    I said the same thing multiple times in past a few months. Nobody gave it a shit. I said there are only two people in the world who said Windows 8 will run on the phone. They are Steve Ballmer and Paul Otellini. In CES, Steve clear said Windows 8 will run everywhere. everywhere means everywhere. Is phone included? yes, is TV included?, yes, is your car inlcuded? yes; is your microwave included?, yes, is your oven included? yes!

    • Anonymous

      What’s wrong with this? It would simplify everything. You would now exactly how to use every electronic device. The only issue is to make sure everything runs smoothly, is reliable, and can maintain the battery long enough to last through the day.

  • http://w1ngnut.myopenid.com/ w1ngnut

    “get USB drives and plop them into the tablet” that I like! Makes much more sense than having a powerful device in your hands but have access only to cloud data. I want to be able to connect my camera/my smartphone (WP) as well and upload my pictures to my skydrive from there. Sweet!

  • Morgan

    I think merging these platforms will be great. I hope this means that we will see a convergence of communications such as being able to view phone stats like email, voicemail, texts, incoming calls etc on whichever platform you happen to be using like Xbox or your laptop/desktop. How cool would it be to be playing xbox or working on your computer at work and be able to take calls or answer texts and email without having to stop and pick up your phone? I am very excited to see where MS is taking these systems.

  • A340-600

    Ugh! Microsoft needs to drop that purple background in Windows 8′s Start menu! Look how great it looks with a white background (TV) and, of course, black background (phone).

  • markiz

    does that mean that wp will change app format in the future? or maybe desktop windows will be able to run winpho applications?

    There are many applications on wp already that could work really well on larger screen: all the hubs, weather apps.. pretty much every panoramic application.

  • James

    waw finally after emails after emails i send  Microsoft might do something about it  which is a true and only future to make windows phone awake.