Microsoft Seeks One Windows for All

by Matt Klassen on June 22, 2012

If history has shown us anything, it’s that often times Microsoft needs a few kicks at the technology can before it actually gets things right, and that looks to hold true for its Windows Phone mobile platform as well. When Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8 this week at its developer preview event in San Francisco, it struck me as a clear challenge to the incumbents Android and iOS; building on Microsoft’s own strengths (that would be its desktop Windows platform) and shoring up the weaknesses of its competitors.

 Among the plethora of announcements the Redmond Company made during the WinPho 8 debut, perhaps the one that stood out the most was the company’s decision to increase the compatibility between Windows Phone and Windows 8–a point that if rumours serve true, was a contentious issue among the upper echelons of Microsoft for quite some time.

While it may seem a rather innocuous point on the surface, hinting at an ever-growing compatibility between the two platforms is clearly Microsoft’s response to the persistent trend of multi-platform technology, leveraging the global dominance of its Windows platform to help grow its still fledgling Windows Phone brand.

The key for mobile platform success lies firmly in the hands of the developers, meaning in a strange mobile Catch-22, developers go where the customers are and customers go where the apps are. For Microsoft, “[the shared development platform between WinPho 8 and Windows 8] will increase the weight and importance of Windows,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told tech blog TechNewsWorld.

Having already established global dominance with its Windows platform there already exists a ready made user base for Microsoft to draw on, but to this point it’s been a struggle to transfer those same users over to its mobile brand…until now I would guess.

Given that Windows and WinPho8 will share a “common kernel, networking, file system and graphics support as well as DirectX and common drivers,” the draw for developers is that software applications will be far easier to transfer between platforms (although at this point their not directly transferable), meaning that developers who have cut their teeth programming for the desktop Windows community can now segue into the mobile world without any difficulty.

Windows Phone 8 will also include a host of other unique features, including advanced gaming middleware that will be expected to bring blockbuster gaming titles to the mobile platform, as well as Microsoft’s mobile wallet offering and, in an attempt to match Samsung’s SAFE program, increased security and features for enterprise.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here; I seem to remember the same sort of hype surrounding Windows Phone 7, a platform whose middling success has only managed to eek out a paltry slice of the mobile pie. Nevertheless, its clear that Microsoft is looking to make a new new start in the mobile sector, evidenced no more so than the confirmation that there will be no upgrade path from previous iterations of Microsoft’s mobile platform to Windows Phone 8.

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