back to article Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 DNA splice is on - report

Windows 8 and Microsoft's next major phone operating system will merge, if reports are correct. Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, will reuse code from Windows 8, due this year - specifically the kernel, network stacks, security and multi media. That means Windows Phone 8 will ditch the current Windows Phone 7.5 core that uses …

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FAIL

"As far as appearances go, Microsoft would become more like Apple in having its desktop, laptop and tablet software and its phone software look and behave very similarly."

What? How does OSX look like iOS? They don't run the same apps, or look similar. They are seperate platforms. I seriously wonder if el Reg consciously try to cram an Apple mention into as many articles as possible as some half-assed SEO policy.

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WTF?

I think the Journo is getting the Kernel mixed up with the UI.

iOS and OSX use the same kernel afaik. If not the same then kissing cousins.

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Anonymous Coward

Judging the book by the cover?

@Simbu: "What? How does OSX look like iOS? They don't run the same apps, or look similar. They are separate platforms"

The Mac OS and iOS have a great deal in common. In fact, it would be fair to say that iOS is a slimmed-down Mac OS with different UI components. They are built on the same foundation (Darwin) and share a common kernel. Many of the frameworks and APIs are common to both (with slight variations). Cocoa and Objective-C are key development components for both, and XCode works in the same way for both. Moving an application from one to the other is largely a case of redesigning the UI.

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@Ralph 5

The article suggests the two platforms are similar to use. They are not. Your argument of rebuilding an application for each platform because they use the same developer tools / framework doesn't validate the article's opinion. Without going itnto the minutae of different development kits, If i re-write a C#.NET Winforms app enough, i can make it a Windows Mobile 6.x, WP7 or even ASP.NET app. All use Visual Studio, C#, the .NET framework but they are in no way similar enough to say "UI change and we're done", and the user doesn't interact with them in the same way.

Arguments from a dev's point of view aside, the point being made in the article was that OSX and iOS are similar to use to the same degree as being proposed by Microsoft with Windows 8 / WP8, like MS are playing catch up with Apple's level of integration between two OSes. This just isn't true. Zune and iTunes is a better comparison.

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Anonymous Coward

@Simbu: "the point being made in the article was that OSX and iOS are similar to use to the same degree as being proposed by Microsoft with Windows 8 / WP8,"

You're right - I confused the replacement of the technology core with the UI. I wouldn't have imagined anyone would seriously consider doing that - direct migration of a tablet UI to the desktop sounds like a recipe for disaster. Apple could easily have done that, but have been very selective about which bits to migrate. The gestures, for example, work well. But having tested many iOS apps in the desktop emulator, I'm grateful that apps from iOS don't work directly in the Mac OS. Stuff designed for touch doesn't translate well to the desktop or vice versa. Is that seriously what MS is planning to do?

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confuggled

So there's going to be 3 different Windows 8s...

Kinda sounds like wp8 will similar to winodws 8 for ARM, which i think will be tablet targeted. Wonder how on earth they're going to be marketing all this.

Also sounds like wp7.5 devices will probably not get upgraded to wp8.

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WP7.5 upgrades

Yes, I think MS has created a new issue (that could kill current sales), is whether this converged codebase will be able to run on current/anemic single core Winmobe phones... Probably not, or at least not well. Magic 8 ball is coming back as "Try again later". Win8 (from appearances) is going to be highly threaded and benefit greatly from quad and more cores with a dual core minimum requirement for non-laggy performance. Realistically we need guidance from MS for their current upgrade guidelines for Win8 on the existing phones. But *if* I were in the market for a Winmobe specifically, I'd hold off until modern multicore hardware running Winmobe comes out that will be future proofed against Win8, or is running Win8 already. It is looking like Winmobe 7.x and its hardware is an evolutionary dead end. The early adopters are probably about to get shafted, like many early adopters. (in fairness, the initial iPhone and Android phones were the same way more or less, although back then there wasn't as much fierce/mature competition in the mobile space)

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Paris Hilton

That won't be the case at all! There are 2 distinct branches: Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Windows 8 will be a singular operating system. It will however come with or without proper legacy support, depending on ARM or x86. This won't be 2 separate Windows, it'll just be branded differently. Think 'Windows 7 Home Premium' as 'Windows 8' without legacy, and 'Windows 7 Professional' as 'Windows 8 Pro' with legacy. Then they simply tell users, if you want to run Windows 7 programs, you need to pay more for the Pro version, otherwise you just get Windows 8 apps. The underlying hardware won't be brought up.

Windows Phone 8 is completely different to Windows 8. They are moving to the NT kernel and using some common elements, like the network stack, but the OS is not the same! Windows Phone 8 will on the surface be no different to today (bar feature additions/modifications). It's resource requirements will be the same - the NT kernel is actually very small and efficient. There is no reason why any current Windows Phone, even first gen devices, won't be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.. unless Microsoft does something stupid like try and charge, but given their current market position, they won't! The only issues will be hardware specific, like no NFC support because the phone is missing it.

A Lumia 710 will be running Windows Phone 8 before the end of the year!

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wp7.5 devices will probably not get upgraded to wp8

I was already tilting towards Android for my next phone, that probably just sealed it.

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WTF?

@alexh2o: "Windows Phone is completely different to Windows 8"

Did you read the same article as I did?

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> A Lumia 710 will be running Windows Phone 8 before the end of the year!

The Lumia 710 is single core, as all WP7 devices must be, it is a restriction in the specs. In fact it seems that WP7 would not use a 2nd core if given one.

As I understand it WP8 will require at least dual core. This is to (try to) ensure that the UI does not get bogged down when multitasking several apps.

It may well be that a Nokia device may be running WP8 at the end of the year or so, but if this is a 710 then it won't meet the minimum requirements. In fact all current phones and those that are coming 'soon' (eg the 900) are likely to be obsolete by the end of the year. Not good if you have to buy on a 2 year contract.

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WTF?

A desktop Windows *without* legacy?

They tried some of that before (Vista) and it was a disaster!

Going further and making none of your old applications or hardware work would truly utterly destroy Windows as a desktop OS.

It's about the only thing that MS could do that would ensure everyone on the Clapham omnibus would return their new computer as "broken", and within weeks nobody would even consider Windows on their new computer.

Even Ballmer wouldn't be that stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Apollo

MS has always said that WP7 will get two major updates, Mango was a major update, Nodo and Tango are not major updates.

It would be a lot easier if MS would just confirm what is going to happen but i suspect that Apollo will be the second major update for WP7 first/second gen handsets

No where states that WP8 MUST use a multi core CPU, if that not the case then please point to some hard facts and ill reverse my opinion on the matter, i will however be supprised if my HD2 with a S1 snapdragon in it will work, but to date it still runs everything perfectly :)

Time will tell at the end of the day but one thing is for sure, if MS could clear this up they would be doing them selves a big favour, the number of folk i know that are now holding back off Nokia 8/900s is getting a bit silly.

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@ratfox

"Windows Phone 8, codenamed Apollo, will reuse code from Windows 8, due this year - specifically the kernel, network stacks, security and multi media. That means Windows Phone 8 will ditch the current Windows Phone 7.5 core that uses Windows Embedded Compact."

That basically states that the underlying kernel will move from WindowsCE to WindowsNT. That's it! At no point does it imply the entire operating system is becoming Windows 8!

Think of it like a car. The kernel is the engine and the OS is the car. Two cars can share the same engine but have very different performance. An example, the Toyota 2ZZ-GE 1.8L engine (Windows NT kernel) is used in the Toyota Corolla, a big family saloon (Windows 8), but is also used in the Lotus Elise (Windows Phone 8). The Lotus is demon fast in comparison, because it is lightweight and tuned, whilst sacrificing certain amenities.

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Anonymous Coward

sharing the security of windows 8 ?

Im sure I wont be the only one who feels that stating that winphone 8 will share the secuirty of windows 8 will sounds scary to end users.

Windows phone, just as secure as your windows desktop ...

Try to explain that to the average Joe, whose xp-32 has never had the automatic updates turned on, whose 90day trial of whatever AV package he got with his PC never got activated or replaced by another free one, and who keeps being told his PC is full of virusses ...

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Go

Sounds like MS are listening!

Native apps, Skype, multi-core support, NFC support, multiple resolutions, removable storage, better management for enterprise use, teathering etc.

Pretty much everything that consumers have been asking for. Fairly happy with my Lumia 800 so far (just as much so as my old Desire when I first got it). The changes are sounding like I'll be sticking to WP should the above be implemented and Android doesn't have improvements with fragmentation and speed rot over time.

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Thumb Up

Totally agree! Just last week I was trying to post on these forums saying the Lumia is great and people should give WP a chance - only to be downvoted like mad and told it's terrible, WP8 will be cr@p too, and Android is vastly superior. I wonder how many of those people now realise how short-sighted they are...

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Boffin

Everything consumers are asking for?

I think you will find that most, if not all of these things, people already have in a wide range of decent Android phone that come with the added bonus of a strong ecosystem of developers and software.

Changing the core and the desktop sync software, and adding features that are already common on other phones already on sale, then coming to the market 6 months or more later seems unlikely to save Nokia or WP. MS would make far more money axing WP and just taking a cut on Android sales.

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It saved Apple with the iPhone....they're always re-hashing old tech to pretend it's never been done before.

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Yes, most features are already on Android.

However a number of WP features are unique such as consistent and different UI, integration with Zune Pass, free offline sat nav (NOT on Android), XBox360 integration etc.

None are deal breakers, and the flexibility of Android trumps nearly anything iOS or WP can do due to its open nature.

Personally I see WP being a "just works" device that means I don't have to give money to Apple, works with my ecosystem im already in (Windows, XBox) and doesn't require storage management, vetting what apps I download or suffer droid rot.

I think iOS, Android and WP together in the market is a good thing for consumers. Nice to see MS truly innovating and competing and giving consumers more choice.

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Disagree

"Totally agree! Just last week I was trying to post on these forums saying the Lumia is great and people should give WP a chance"

My opinion of the Lumia 800 is it's not so great. The phone hardware is pretty good (aside from the nuisance cover over the usb charger), but it is let down badly by the software and battery charging issues. Run the battery down and even if you plug it into a wall charger it won't show any signs of life. Experimentation suggests to me that it recovers with a 0.5A current from a PC USB but not from the wall 1.0A charge until it starts to show signs of life again. I shouldn't have to deal with issues like this in a phone.

Windows Phone 7.5 is superficially a nice experience but it's not hard to discover it is lacking functionality that would be taken for granted on Android. e.g. I discovered a few days ago that single switch toggles 3G data AND MMS functionality on or off, i.e. if you have no data plan then you can't get MMS messages either. An obvious usability howler also afflicts the messaging app where the send button is almost directly underneath the space bar meaning lots of sending screwups.

And the OS is doggedly single tasking as far as apps go and that sucks more than anything. The Nokia "value added" software is also especially poor especially the navigation app which requires you download maps but be online to plan routes. Stupid design.

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Megaphone

MicroSD

External storage is the major deal blocker that has stopped me seriously considering a WinPho. Hopefully they'll add that and give Android some competition when I come to change my old HTC Desire.

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Ru

Also,

this means that Windows Phone 8 could conceivably be built for x86, too. As much as Intel will be unhappy with MS for shifting their next OS ARM-wards, they might like the fact that there may still be hope for an Atom-powered phone running a mainstream OS.

Not that such a thing would be particularly interesting without some dramatic improvements to power efficiency, of course.

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@Ru

After this, there will be no WinPhone8 specifically (other than maybe a sticker). Just Win8 running on different platforms and done. Code convergence in the best way. It is probably too late, but still a good idea.

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Daft

Squeezing 100million lines of x86 code into an ARM-based phone are they? All I can surmise that the Win CE kernel had grown so far out of date that amazingly, it was cheaper to port Win 8 than to upgrade

CE.

Doesn't say much for whoever was managing the CE code base....

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Boffin

Not as daft as it sounds

Keep in mind that it was in the mid-late 1990's when WinCE was pulled from WinNT (which was a microkernel based multiplatform OS), and they've stayed diverged code all this time. The big issue is that MS by going almost exclusively on x86 for the last 10 odd years for the NT code fork, may have hardcoded stuff in the formerly multi-platform NT kernel that is still at the heart of Win8. It is one of those use it or lose it things. Entropy sets in without maintenance.

CE was stripped down to run on really limited NT kernel in order to run on incredibly limited hardware. It made perfect sense at the time and was a good idea at the time. That was then though. Now the modern smartphone now has more hardware firepower on it than the average PC did just a few years ago and is going exponential, so no reason to have two codebases anymore. Merge them and keep going? Great idea for the company, the customer and the stockholders. Provided that the Devs didn't hardcode too much around x86, they should be able to be multiplatform *again* really quick. Apps should be the same way. The worse the coding done on the application, the less likely you'll see an ARM version of it on Windows, or a GOOD version anyway. Think back to initial versions of Wordperfect and 123 for Windows.

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@admiraljkb

Yep, I agree with all that. The only thing that I'd add is that if MS can make the programming API the same as it always has been, then porting from x86 (little endian, 32 or 64 bit) to ARM (little endian, 32 and soon to be 64 bit) probably isn't so difficult.

I'm reminded of the demo MS did showing an early Win8 running on ARM with Office 10, printing to an ordinary Epson printer. The hints were that the printer driver and Office were simply recompiled and appeared to work well enough for MS to be confident about giving a public demo.

If MS have really pulled it off to that level that soon (the demo was ages ago), it might be reasonably easy for app devs to avoid the shade of Wordperfect and 123...

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@bazza

Well, that's the way it used to work back when NT ran on MIPS, PowerPC, x86, and the Alpha, so I would expect the developers who "obeyed the (API) law" to be able to go back and forth easy enough. Ports were fairly simple back then if you stuck to the API's, except on low level drivers of course. Kinda cool to see almost the original multi-platform design of WinNT (well, OS/2-NT originally) come full circle. :)

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@admiraljkb

Ah yes, NT for PowerPC. I saw it a few times, back in the days when the future was multiplatform-bright. It was running on embedded SBCs that the manufacturer was using instead of buying PCs... There must be many IT experts out there who are way too young to remember what was going on back then.

One has to be impressed by Intel for how well they managed to see off those platforms through being good at marketing and silicon processing. Perhaps they've now made the mistake of believing their own PR...

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Anonymous Coward

Question...

It's Microsoft so...

...will it crash all the time?

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Anonymous Coward

will there be

a winpho market by the time this lot is released?

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Note to Windows phone vendors...

Be VERY sure to include LOTS of memory in your designs. You will need it for the bloatness that is in your operating systems. Be also sure to include good power management in your hardware since it will consume lots of kWh! Make sure that the display has good blue pixels as they will be used often on those "blue screens". Add control, alt, and delete keys for rapid reboot.

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It's all a good thing...

so long as I can still switch back to a normal interface on my desktop. They can do whatever else they like.

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Stop

Does this mean total "lock down" ?

I've been using Windows 7 for a while now and because I like tinkering a bit also grabbed the Express (free) versions for VB and C#. Quite frankly I like it, it allows me to do some .NET tinkering, and I can even utilize all this stuff for other environments as well, like Powershell for example which I've also grown to appreciate. In short: I can create my own applications and use them at my leisure on my computer. So far, so good.

SO... With all the talk about WM7 going on I decided to check up on it a little more. Right now I own a 2 year old Samsung Jet for which I've done some (minor!) development using Java ME as well as Samsung's own "widgets". I like being able to run my own apps on my own phone, its fun. Nothing more, nothing less.

After grabbing the WM7 SDK I played with it a little and so far it doesn't look that bad. Comes with VB & C# support, has its own WM7 emulator and you can easily build some basic applications. So far, so good.

BUT... Say I actually own a WM7 device and would now like to put my application onto my phone. Well, that isn't going to happen easily. No sirree; I first need to register myself on their "App Hub" in order to register my phone as being a development environment. Which by itself is understandable; safety first. What I don't understand is that I have to pay E 99,-/year for that subscription. Sure; I now also get to use their marketplace and whatever more. I don't want that; all I want is to run MY applications on MY phone. How hard can it be ?

Yet; not going to happen without coughing up even more dope, after I already paid for my hardware and software. WTF?

As such: would this mean that in Windows 8 I can also no longer easily add my own (Windows / .NET) applications any longer without having to get some dumb subscription first ?

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Anonymous Coward

ShelLuser

ShelLuser, you have a good point, and if you were on first gen hardware id say thats very easy to work around, second gen is somewhat more difficult but possible to a limited,

Sadly, that shouldnt have to be the case, i believe the reasoning for this was to limit the amount of crap in the market place which is a very good point having 100k fart apps isnt good for anyone, however a simple solution would have been for a two tier system of developer licencing, Free first level, but no marketplace access, paid for pro level with marketplace access...... alas that is not the case!

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That's actually the problem...

Apple made iOS from MacOS X, like Windows CE from Windows. More lately, they have been embellishing MacOS X on the desktop to make it more of a "home" for iOS users. But that's not the same as making it the same as iOS.

A desktop is not a phone or a tablet. There are deas from the tablet/phone that work on the desktop, but that's different that iOS on the desktop, and Apple knows it. Microsoft seems to be moving to unifiy the versions of Windows, and in a bad way. Sure, why not unify the kernel... there's no reason Windows Phone 7 needed to be this weird single processor anomoly. Most recent portable systems have the same CPU power, similar storage, and more RAM than desktops of a decade ago... when Win XP hit the desktop. And XP deep down wasn't that different than Windows 2000, which ran just dandy on much lesser machines.

It's the "API server" that makes the difference. Windows 7 has two of these, the Win32/64 API server (Windows apps), and the POSIX server (easy UNIX ports). Windows 8 adds another, WinRT, the API that Metro rides on. The Phone/Table OS, Microsoft's answer to iOS. This is the one that will only have applications for sale from the revamped Zune store, that'll run on tablets, is running on Phones. But they're no taking some good ideas from the tablet/phone and enhancing the desktop -- they're putting iOS on the desktop. And from the sound of it, forcing you to use it, despite the fact that the interface completely fails as a desktop UI.

Microsoft needs the consumers to adopt desktop Metro/WinRT, because they haven't found any other way to get users to buy into Windows mobile OSs. But they're just as likely to kill the desktop this way. This is one case in which they actually should copy Apple.

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