Can Microsoft unite Windows?

Overseeing multiple operating systems isn’t a picnic for IT administrators. Already on their minds are versions of Windows desktop and server, BlackBerry, Android, Linux and a few network OS.

So when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella this week told financial analysts that he want to streamline Windows from three operating systems — desktop, WinPhone, RT and — to one, a lot of IT staff might have welcomed the news.

One industry analyst has told me that he’s been expecting this announcement for some time, pointing to the creation of the division headed by former Nokia chief Stephen Elop as the one that will be at least unifying RT, WinPhone and Xbox.

Not so fast, says Peter Bright in Ars Technica. It’s true that today core features like the kernel, security model, and major APIs are the same. But having one OS to unite them all won’t happen.

“The names may change, but the differences won’t; the operating systems will look different and support different applications,” he writes, “and we’re highly unlikely to ever see x86 desktop applications running on ARM Windows Phones. From the practical end-user perspective, there are going to be just as many Microsoft operating systems as there ever were.”

What will happen, he predicts, is that there will be a single application model that can span Windows and Windows Phone, and in all likelihood, Xbox, too. This is similar to what I’ve been hearing.

Anything in this area that will help IT admins narrow down what they have to support will be good news. Of course, if Windows Phone doesn’t take off in the enterprise, it won’t matter much.


Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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