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back to article Microsoft rolls out One Big Windows strategy

Is Microsoft preparing one Windows operating system for PCs, tablets, and smartphones? Reading between the lines of what Microsoft execs told 15,000 of the company's partners during their annual conference event this week, it appears that a unified Windows is indeed on the way. But it's unclear how far it will go. The company is …

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Good news...

for hackers.

Taking into account Microsoft's track record on security.

In the land of MS where the shadows lie.

One codez to rule them all, One hack to find them,

One codez to own them all and in the darkness bind them.

One exploit owns every Windows powered device, interesting times ahead indeed.

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...to rule them all

Has anyone noticed the similarity between 'Balmer' and 'Balrog'?

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Terminator

been trolled

I can only imagine that the downvote came from a microshft troll.

Gramatically people have either noticed or not noticed what you suggest (it is far-fetched but so amusing I may use it as his name in future). Neither option deserves a demerit, so I think you have been shilled.

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Just like...

Ubuntu.

Oh no, I've given the game away.

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Facepalm

LIke MS needs *another* development framework

After already alienating Windows Forms, WPF and Silverlight developers with HTML5 announcements.

Ballmer has clearly forgotten developers, developers, developers.

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LOR

One crock of shite to bind them all

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Coffee/keyboard

And don't forget all the others...

From C++ to C# to .Net

Microsoft is wildly grasping at straws to keep their monopoly power relevant.

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Pint

Good morning!

As i said months ago, its not even about inter OS application compatibility, at the most basic level the end user will have a significant attachment to an OS where its used across multiple platforms. you buy a windows PC, if it acts and looks like a mobile phone then you will be 'more likely' to go for that as well, same for tablets, its one of the main reasons Windows on the desktop has such a dominace, essentially each OS is the same, users can use it at work, or home, a friends house on different versions and its not too hard to work out where things are.

Jo public will love this and as long as MS doesnt chop the balls of the OS (ie please leave some power user functions/access in it) then Many of us will like it too.

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Linux

Sounds like Linux..

A common kernel, and then different userlands to suit different purposes... That sounds very much like the approach currently taken by Linux...

And it's about damn time too, products like windows mobile and windows ce are very offputting for customers, they're branded as windows which implies compatibility.

On the other hand, Linux benefits from the majority of its applications coming with source code, which makes porting to different architectures relatively easy... Windows apps are typically closed source, so you would have to convince vendors to compile for a number of different platforms, something that a lot of them simply won't do.

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Not quite like Linux

The Linux kernel is substantially different for each target platform to the extent that while they all have a common lineage they are effectively differnet kernels: if you compare the Linux on the smallest embedded systems to that on your typical desktop system it's barely recognisable, even if you restrict comparisons just to the kernel. This persists even among full size architectures, where there are substantial differences both in implementation and even at times feature sets - compare the x86 and SPARC kernels for example.

What they seem to be hinting at here is something more like NetBSD, where you have a very clearly defined hardware abstraction layer and virtually identical kernels on top of it. It's no surprise that the NetBSD team were able to port to AMD64, for example, in a matter of days when it took the far larger Linux community months: there was so much less work to do. Drivers and so on could be carried over verbatim without so much as tweaking.

Of course, Microsoft being Microsoft I don't see this happening. Anyone remember how NT was supposed to be based on a microkernel for example? In that case why is driver digning so important? That kind of restructuring needs work and would inevitably mean a new driver model at least. They may go for something more along the Linux line where code is common where practical but there is no underlying infrastructure to make that almost everything. However, I suspect what it really means is yet another unconvincing layer slapped on top of the existing code bases, that makes the disparate architectures appear almost similar if you look at them from the right direction and under dim light.

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Qt

One of the things that Nokia did try to get right was to make the Qt environment cross-platform. I've only played with it on x86-class machines, but I'm aware that it has stuff in it that's supposed to be phone-friendly too. It'll even compile for Windows and OS X, although as mentioned above, either the developer will need to release the source code or be capable of compiling and testing for different platforms.

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FIA

Quite True

Yeah, I'd go with that, a good cross platform framework is very handy, and Qt certainly fits the bill.

I've written a small desktop twitter client as a hobby project and it compiles without modification on Windows, Linux and OS X (and NetBSD) due to being written entirely in Qt, and I've not found anything whilst writing it I wasn't able to do entirely within the framework.

I did also once look briefly at the mobile side of things and was able to bring up a very simple reading only twitter client on a Symbian emulator in about 20 minutes with Qt due to being able to reuse a good chunk of the desktop back end code. From a developer point of view this is great.

@not quite like linux

Good point, NetBSD is a very good example of how to do low level cross platform stuff well. However to be fair to MS, whilst it's not a true micro kernel, NT isn't that far off, they did initially try and put as much stuff in the user space as possible however the first version was quite slow due to having much of the gfx layer in user space as I remember. They are also working towards putting much more of this right too, the sound layer in Win 7 runs as much in user space as possible I think. It's probably more historic reasons that have resulted in the proliferation of kernel mode drivers, which is something driver signing is aiming to address arguably.

Also, the cited benefit of NetBSD, the HAL, is present in NT too, it did start life as a cross platform OS.

I've always thought that the underlying NT stuff was perhaps quite a good little OS struggling to get out from under the cruft of Windows piled upon it.

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Happy

integrated.

cool! i love windows, this will be awesome :)

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Anonymous Coward

I love windows too

The sort that you find in walls, that is.

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Stop

silicon life forms

I assume the windows are to let us see the trolls coming!

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Go

no troll

i am actually being serious - Windows is what i use day in day out, i don't touch anything else - i genuinely do think it's gonna be really good! Not trolling in the slightest!

If i were trolling i would say something like "well Lion is gonna make Win8 look pathetic etc etc"

jeeessss....

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FAIL

Hmm

Being honest about your loved-one is important. If you're just going to be uncritical then no one is really going to be interested in what you have to say.

I use Ubuntu, but I have an entire bag of issues we have, some being worked on, others being ignored. But I might be able to get into the details of the Ubuntu community because it's all done out in the open, unlike Microsoft where you would have no idea what's happening except from the press releases. Which might be a little biased.

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Go

Fair

I do think the NT2000, XP, and W8 are remarkably successful bits of software. Astonishingly so, really, given the amount of under-the-bonnet expected from dumb users (defrag, aunty-virus, aunty-malware, emptying temporary directories).

And, once you have learned the wrinkles and the buttons not to press, people have got a whole lot of stuff done with it that they might never have done before.

But, at the end of the day, it is analogous to a spanner. If you need a spanner, and the spanner you have fits the nut, it is a good spanner. I just get pi**ed off having to buy the same size spanner over and over again. It's not as thought I've worn it out!

But, yes, it is a remarkably good spanner and fits a lot of nuts....

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@MartinOwens

"If you're just going to be uncritical then no one is really going to be interested in what you have to say."

So you only post on forums to be critical - ALL the time?! What a sad life you must lead...

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Coat

@Robert E A Harvey

I had an Aunty Virus, strange lady, always ill....alright I'm going!

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Windows

"What profiteth a man if his reach doth not exceed his grasp?"

If it really is the case that MS *are* concretely aiming to unify Windows across *all* platforms then it is both risky (very) and logical (very). They are aiming very high indeed but (to recoin an old phrase) "the devil is in the implementation". In order for this to work then Win8's conventional GUI and its touch UI are going to have to be a first class user experience. Each of the interfaces will have to be at least as good as the best of each type that are on the market today on its own or other operating systems. Furthermore, *both* the x86 and the ARM versions will have to combine being a proper full song with choruses os with being as lean and mean with battery use as possible. I am not saying they *cannot* do it but it is a hell of a task they are setting themselves. If they fail then the rise of the tablets (getting more powerful for the same power usage, almost by the day) will see the beginning of the demise in the consumer electronics market of a Microsoft confined to a steadily decreasing (in the long term) conventional pc market. If they get it right they will still be entering a market with established competitors in a context very different from their traditional dominance of the desktop computer market. In that sense Ballmer is right when he says that Win8 is a gamble for MS because even if they get it right with Win8 and the os *is* a major cross-platform success the long term disruption of the market place will likely mean that their capacity to dominate a monolithic market will, quite likely, be gone for ever (all to the good IMHO, it is not healthy for one company to dominate any market however much one might like this or that product from them). That does not mean that even *if* they get it right they won't earn handsomely on it, they likely will - just that it will not be a re-run of the nineties/early noughties.

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yawn

There is an old Victorian hymn that goes "tell me the old,old story".

Heard it all before. Bollocks then, Bollocks now. Can't be true, platforms too different.

Just a fresh crop of baby-faced marketing droids being let up the garden path 'cos they all think the world was created yesterday.

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Linux

Re: yawn

"Just a fresh crop of baby-faced marketing droids being let up the garden path 'cos they all think the world was created yesterday."

Yes, they may still have been in short pants when Modular Windows was announced two decades ago. That went a long way... ahem!

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Facepalm

Who really cares?

Most App devs don't and that is clearly true from the lack of apps in their shop.

So what if you have made is a single unified system.

Your leader (S Balmer) has basically pulled the rug from under you here. His statement about 'going from very small to ... very small' is IMHO akin to 'Doing a Ratner' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Ratner and see the bit about his infamous speech).

The MS Fanboi's I know love their HTC 'Big Dumb Button' phones but honestly, they have missed the market and should do the decent thing, give up WP7 etc and buy RIM.

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They're Tiles...

these big dumb buttons are going to be the basis of the future of windows - far from being dumb they will actually show, at a quick glance, a whole wealth of information - which means the user doesn't have to actually enter an app to see what's happening - kinda makes everything else look dumb all of a sudden, eh?!

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Anonymous Coward

"actually enter an app to see what's happening"

So you think the app's not running ?

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ooo

ooo 3 thumbs down already - are you iOS people gettin' well jel of the obviously far superior tiles!? =)

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I call shrill

So, no one else has widgets on their lock/home screen then ? This is something only MS has ?

Umm...

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reference

i didnt make a reference to the app running or not, it was a point that the tiles are not 'big dumb buttons' but actually quite useful.

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Fair

Yes, I think the idea of a big fat icon with a little titchy live screen of some sort is useful. And, by any definition of the word, not Dumb.

Not original, but useful. It has been done elsewhere.

Bringing it to the lumpen proletariat may be both useful and original, and well done them.

(they employ tens of thousands of clever programmers. I bet /most/ of the ideas are good. it's the corporate policies I object to most of all.)

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Gimp

Aha

A Balmerog and a Cave Troll... two for one!

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Windows

True.

Lumpen proletriat deserve lumpen buttons.

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Take 2 ?

Wasn't this the original point of Windows ? One O/S on server, desktop, phone (Windows CE),embedded, etc ? Wasn't it alleged that this same O/S on all devices was borrowed from VMS ?

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That would be "Windows NT"

And as far as I can remember, "phone" and "embedded" weren't on the radar back then.

But yes, if WinNT would have become what it should have become according to DreamSight[tm], everything from IBM boxes to desktop towers would now be running it. At a cost.

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Indeed

Windows Embedded never took off because it added a lot to the cost of anything using it and you didn't have the code to customise the OS.

Where full blown Windows has been used you see a lot of failures. Asda self check out machines, railway station signs and so on.

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Windows

Embedded with Balmer

Windows NT Embedded is still used by several big companies, while other embedded devices use CE. On the other side of the scale you get Windows 4 Supercomputers (more than 1 % market share) and the Azure Cloud. Will Windows 8 also run on the X Box 360?

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Nya
WTF?

How long?

How long has it taken the Reg to notice this? Go back and install Quebec and figure out the choose Intel/ARM, choose GUI, choose API's on the Windows installer. MS pretty much painted it on a 50ft neon sign this was the direction.

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Joke

Re: How long?

"Go back and install Quebec"

Who wants to do that? The Canadians haven't even finished their install yet!

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Facepalm

unification

"Our future at Microsoft is the ability to unify the ecosystems and the user experiences."

Now we can have the same security holes and bugs on every MS toy!

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Trollface

Another example of Microsoft innovation

whereas, still playing catch-up are

Linux - the kernel, runs on everything from a wristwatch through to a mainframe and the cloud, X Windows - on everything a bit larger than a wristwatch (cue, deluge of wristwatch evidence) KDE/Gnome - supported on everything from a mobile phone to a cluster

They'll just have to try harder to catch up with the thought leaders

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Even so

Are there any programs, other than perhaps some behind the scenes plumbing that you can, or even want to run on all those different systems.

Even if you could port the Android version of "Angry Birds" to run on the K Computer at the RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science, would you even necessarily get a good user experience. I'm guessing the current No.1 supercomputer doesn't have a touch screen, an accelerometer, a magnemometer, a gps receiver, or any of the other things you tend to take for granted on a handheld device. It may however have a much larger screen, and possibly lots of them, and you might want to use those extra pixels to make the birds look even more angry.

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>Even So

>Are there any programs, other than perhaps some behind the scenes plumbing that you

>can, or even want to run on all those different systems

Vi?

FTP?

I run a programme to fetch BBC radio programmes on my router, linux desktop, file server, and have run it on a friends telly.

On a research ship with Decca Radars I developed a perl script to parse out the test match scores from a BBC web page and merge them with NMEA data so they would scroll across the bottom of the radar. Developed it on a linux based workstation, and finally installed it on the embedded dish steering box for the satellite internet link. Probably still there, though I suppose that changes to the web page have broken it now.

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Re: >Even So

I would put ftp in the behind the scenes plumbing category, as it works behind the scenes to provide things to the file manager ui. Nevertheless, as far as I'm aware embedded devices have the cut down busybox version of ftp rather than the full version.

As an emacs fan, I can't imagine why anyone would want to install vi anywhere. Having said that, on a touch screen device, you aren't going to want something designed to be used with only a keyboard when it is much easier to tap the relevant spot on the screen to do what you want. For that reason, I'm not going to be installing emacs on my Glalaxy S any time soon.

With your BBC fetcher, you might have the same back end across all platforms, but the user interface to run it with a remote, a touch screen or a keyboard and mouse is likely to be different. As an example of a similar application, look at how podcast subscriptions are different on itunes for mac/windows vs itunes for idevices.

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Get Serious

No one actually *wants* to run Vi.

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@MD Rackham

"No one actually *wants* to run Vi."

a) it's "vi", not "Vi".

2] I do nearly all of my serious typing in vi.

Tres: ASCII is ASCII, when you boil it down to basics ...

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Coffee/keyboard

Oh yes they do

I think vi is great. Fast, efficient and usable on console and remote console. It's excellent for quick editing of configuration files, writing short scripts and the like. I've been a vi user since 1985 with little motivation to change.

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Flame

HERETICS!!!!!

EMACS is the one true editor!!!

vi is venom incarnate

;-)

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Linux

You can't use editors if they're not installed...

W-a-y back in about 1994 when I was learning to be a sysadmin, it was drummed into me that using fancy (ahem) editors like EMACS was all well and good, but generally the only editor you could rely on actually being in a UNIX distro from the off was vi. The idea being that when things went bad you'd only have vi to use in single user whilst trying to bring a box back from the dead.

As a result, I only use vi/vim for sysadmin type stuff. Never had a problem editing anything so far.

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Mushroom

@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

"venom incarnate"?

Mantas, Cronos and Abadon are back?!

Altogether now!

"Die Hard!

Legions iron and steel!

Die Hard!

Men of war revealed!"

*Sqeuee! Zanga zanga zanga! Widdly widdly! Dun Dun Dun!*

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Not the first time

They promised something like that with Windows CE and then with c# and .net and silverlight.

We will see if they succeed this time.

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