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Microsoft CEO announced for the first time what has been rumored for a long time

In Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Q4 FY2014 earnings call, new CEO Satya Nadella offered up the most explicit confirmation yet, that Windows Phone, Windows, and Windows RT will be merging into a single cross-platform OS, with unified app support, styles, and core apps/services, with the release of next year's Windows 9.

In the call he stated:

Our mobile and cloud opportunity views informs our decisions on what to build and where to invest. More specifically, we use the following three principles to guide our investments. First, focus investments on the core, productivity experiences and platform investments will prioritize across engineering, sales, marketing as well as M&A.

Second, consolidate overlapping efforts. This means one operating system that covers all screen sizes and consolidated dual use productivity services that cross life and work.

In the year ahead, we are investing in ways that will ensure our device OS and first party hardware aligned to our core. We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.

We will unify our stores, commerce and developer platforms to drive a more coherent user experience and a broader developer opportunity. We look forward to sharing more about our next major wave of Windows enhancements in the coming months.

Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Heather Bellini of Goldman Sachs (GS) squeezed out a bit more info from Mr. Nadella in the Q&A session.  She remarked:

Great. Thank you so much for your time. I wanted to ask a question about – Satya your comments about combining the next version of Windows and to one for all devices and just wondering if you look out, I mean you’ve got kind of different SKU segmentations right now, you’ve got enterprise, you’ve got consumer less than 9 inches for free, the offering that you mentioned earlier that you recently announced. How do we think about when you come out with this one version for all devices, how do you see this changing kind of the go-to-market and also kind of a traditional SKU segmentation and pricing that we’ve seen in the past?
Windows 9
[Image Source: Windows Store (Wallpaper App)]

The comment, essentially probed whether Microsoft would also be moving towards a more unified approach on the enterprise end as well.  The answer, apparently, is know -- which is probably what most IT folks and power users were hoping to hear:

Yes. My statement Heather was more to do with just even the engineering approach. The reality is that we actually did not have one Windows; we had multiple Windows operating systems inside of Microsoft. We had one for phone, one for tablets and PCs, one for Xbox, one for even embedded. So we had many, many of these efforts. So now we have one team with the layered architecture that enables us to in fact one for developers bring that collective opportunity with one store, one commerce system, one discoverability mechanism. It also allows us to scale the UI across all screen sizes; it allows us to create this notion of universal Windows apps and being coherent there.

So that’s what more I was referencing and our SKU strategy will remain by segment, we will have multiple SKUs for enterprises, we will have [one] for OEM, we will have [one] for end-users. And so we will – be disclosing and talking about our SKUs as we get further along, but this my statement was more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very differently than we ourselves have done in the past.

In other words Microsoft will stick to its SKU approach, which provides certain premium features to power users both on the consumer/OEM side and the enterprise side.  The goal of the Windows unification is more about a common code-base, a common look, common tools, a common app market, and common access to cloud services across all devices.  Clearly some devices on the enterprise end (e.g. server) will likely be excluded, as their code base is more radically different from a client PC.  But at the end of the day code and functionality will be shared across virtually all clients.
Microsoft has already started the unification process on the consumer side with both its "Modern UI" (Metro) -- which brought a consistent style to Xbox, Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8.  It took things to the next level with its "Universal Apps" program, which rolled out cross-platform sales options, a streamlined approval process for cross-platform apps, and other developer-geared changes.

IE 11 cross platform

Windows 9 -- code-named "Threshold" -- is also internally referred to as Windows "vNext", according to Neowin.  One key addition will be the return of the Desktop Mode Start Menu.  We can expect Windows 9 to land sometime in April or May 2015.

Sources: Microsoft [call transcript, Yahoo], Microsoft [Q&A transcript, Seeking Alpha]

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One operating system to rule them all...
By javiergf on 7/23/2014 4:21:11 PM , Rating: 5
One OS to rule all users, One OS to find them,
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

By FITCamaro on 7/23/2014 7:01:50 PM , Rating: 4
Would you like to index now for faster searches?

By NellyFromMA on 7/24/2014 8:05:08 AM , Rating: 2
Are you a witch or something?

RE: One operating system to rule them all...
By Digimonkey on 7/24/2014 9:38:43 AM , Rating: 5
One does not simply walk into Redmond.

By Motoman on 7/24/2014 7:05:39 PM , Rating: 2

By name99 on 7/24/2014 1:38:03 PM , Rating: 2
One OS to rule all users, One OS to find them,
One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

I prefer to call it Windows SAA...

Can't wait
By chmilz on 7/23/14, Rating: 0
RE: Can't wait
By Monkey's Uncle on 7/23/2014 8:34:10 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sure Microsoft will be laughing all the way to the bank on the back of people like yourself that think a desktop system is more efficient to use if it works like a smartphone. Enjoy.


I for one won't be one of those people if Microsoft insists on turning my 27" non-touch-screen monitor into an oversized cell phone. I am not in the least interested in scrolling thru the hundreds of programs I have on my system as a single, flat list of programs.

I don't care how slick the system is under the covers - if I am expected to jump through 'usability' hoops to use that system, I simply won't.

RE: Can't wait
By FITCamaro on 7/24/14, Rating: 0
RE: Can't wait
By NellyFromMA on 7/24/14, Rating: -1
RE: Can't wait
By atechfan on 7/24/2014 9:17:51 AM , Rating: 2
Bill Gates probably isn't the punch in the face type, but I am sure Ballmer was.

RE: Can't wait
By Constable odo on 7/24/2014 12:32:16 PM , Rating: 1
You might not want to jump through hoops but diehard Windows users are well-trained to jump through hoops and happily "fetch" the next Windows upgrade because Microsoft is their master. I use Windows 8.1 but I'm just as happy using Windows 7. Both work well for me. I'm in no hurry to upgrade to Windows 9 because I am satisfied with what I already have and don't have any particular reason to want to upgrade.

I'm not a programmer but I have to question the ability of running the same OS on every device. I think about things like code overhead and optimization because I'm ASSUMING that an OS runs faster if it's optimized for a particular device which would mean more or less lines of code depending on its use. Unless there's some way to write programs that optimize themselves for the device they run on I'm just being skeptical.

RE: Can't wait
By Labotomizer on 7/24/2014 2:27:59 PM , Rating: 2
Modern operating systems are designed with APIs, so the commands are universal and it's up to the driver to decode them to a device level. In additional Windows has been moving to more a hypervisor based layer that exists prior to the OS itself. That way the OS is basically an image that talks to the hypervisor, which then talks to the hardware. This is good because it gives it much, much more flexibility. And with the latest MS hypervisors (along with VMware, etc) you're still getting 99% of the hardware performance through to the guest OS.

Combine that with on demand loading, fast rehydration and all the other technologies that have been developed to save power then you're not really sacrificing anything to bring a single OS across all devices. And you're gaining the ability for a single OS, on a single device, to easily adapt to multiple usage situations. So if I had an x86 phone, which is likely to happen during 9's lifetime, that had the hardware to run as a workstation then I could dock it and have a full fledged desktop with no compromise. Yet all my data, all my phone apps and everything is still there. And I would then ALWAYS have my full system with me, no matter what.

Single OS, multiple interfaces based on usage is the best way to accomplish what the industry is moving towards. I have absolutely no question that in 10 years we'll look at your type of posts and wonder how we ever could have believed such things. I'm also not saying MS will get there first or best. But that it's an inevitability.

RE: Can't wait
By Motoman on 7/24/2014 7:07:01 PM , Rating: 1
You're a catastrophic moron.

There's a reason why the operating systems on your computers isn't the same as on your phone and/or your tablets.

Because it's a stupid f%cking idea, and there is 0 possible upside and infinite downside from the attempt to squish them all together.

RE: Can't wait
By atechfan on 7/25/2014 8:03:49 AM , Rating: 2
Care to tell us why it is a stupid idea? Docking a tablet or phone to make a desktop is just one upside. Universal apps is another. So already I've beaten your "0". Adjusting the UI based on usage scenarios is what is being worked on now. The underlying kernel and APIs can easily be the same across devices.

The main reason that the operating system on most people computer is a different one than on their computer is not because they need different a OS but because nearly everyone is already on Windows, but Apple and Google both beat Microsoft to widespread consumer acceptance in the phone and tablet space. So they end up with a different OS because they are buying from different vendors. If Microsoft hadn't dismissed the iPhone out of hand and had a more consumer-friendly mobile OS much sooner, I doubt we would be saying we need different OS for different devices, as we'd already be used to a converged ecosystem.

RE: Can't wait
By Motoman on 7/26/2014 11:05:12 AM , Rating: 1
Docking a tablet or phone to make a desktop is just one upside.

We can do that already without a one-size-fits-all OS. In fact, we've been doing that for years.

Universal apps is another

It is another...example of functionality that isn't predicated on forcing a square peg into round and triangular holes.

The OS needs to be different on desktop and laptop PCs vs. phones and other devices because *they're fundamentally different devices.* With radically different hardware, and totally different usage profiles.

Forcing the same OS to be able to run on *all* devices means it is a compromise on *all* devices. I don't want to live in a world where everything has been compromised in the horrifically misguided interest of making desktop PCs run the same OS as my cell phone. I want an OS on my desktop and laptop that is specifically designed and optimized for that architecture and hardware - and on my phone, or whatever else, I want an OS that's specifically designed and optimized for *that* architecture and hardware.

Saying you're going to make one OS to fit any kind of device is a moronic decision driven by a marketing department who thinks the stupid people of the world can be convinced that it's a good idea. And they're probably right - there are vastly more stupid people in this world than intelligent people.

Microsoft's R&D is now being run by advertisers. That's all there is to it. And they're doing their best to destroy the company they work for by undermining it's cash cows like Windows...and doing a pretty good job of it.

Yes, because that idea worked so well with 8.
By zero2dash on 7/23/2014 5:12:53 PM , Rating: 3
Go ahead, put a big giant neon yellow sticker on 9's box about the glorious resurrection of the Start menu.

You can have my Windows 7 when you pry it from my cold, dead hands - especially considering this ridiculousness going around about requiring the 'Store' app to activate your product.

RE: Yes, because that idea worked so well with 8.
By Jeffk464 on 7/23/2014 8:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Classic shell - its really no big deal.

By Manch on 7/24/2014 12:07:34 PM , Rating: 1
ridiculousness going around about requiring the 'Store' app to activate your product.

lol, I think its more about the fact that he pirated his copy...

By Motoman on 7/27/2014 11:31:31 AM , Rating: 3
It is to the 99% of all Windows users in the world who would never even attempt to find, download, or install any such thing.

By lawrance on 7/23/2014 6:34:32 PM , Rating: 5
Sounds like they want one OS to be the jack of all trades... which = master of none.

This is not news.
By sprockkets on 7/24/2014 11:18:01 AM , Rating: 2
There really isn't 3 OSes to begin with. WinRT is already Windows just for ARM. Really, it isn't a different version.

All three use the Metro framework to have cross platform apps as it is. But you can't just make one app and have it work great on all form factors without of course making sure it has different form factor UIs built in like android.

This strategy is nothing new. It already started long ago under Ballmer. He's just trying to sound badass.

Or more like Weird Al's new synergy video.

Read more here:

RE: This is not news.
By name99 on 7/24/2014 1:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
There really isn't 3 OSes to begin with. WinRT is already Windows just for ARM. Really, it isn't a different version.

So what exactly ARE they promising?
The LANGUAGE they are using suggests something like "now your RT device will run all of Windows, and your Surface Pro will run RT apps". That surely is not correct.

But note how they are making exactly the same messaging mistakes that they made for 8. They generated a whole lot of anger at the fact that supposed Windows devices (WP, RT) couldn't actually run Windows apps. Now they're doubling down with a public message of "With 9, now we really DO have an OS that unifies all of Windows".

It's stupid, stupid, stupid. This is not a technical point, it is a marketing and messaging point. They are doing everything they can to ensure that when Windows 9 ships, it will immediately generate massive backlash because it will not meet the expectations they have set up for it.

By zephyrprime on 7/23/2014 5:48:18 PM , Rating: 3
Doing this is stupid and just ties you down to slow innovation. It is much better to keep rapid release schedules for any new sort of product. Trying to get one product to do multiple tasks just leads to failure. Look at the F35 for a perfect example of this.

Um what
By NellyFromMA on 7/24/2014 8:00:07 AM , Rating: 3
The comment, essentially probed whether Microsoft would also be moving towards a more unified approach on the enterprise end as well. The answer, apparently, is know -- which is probably what most IT folks and power users were hoping to hear

As in, we should already know? Jk, but proof-reading is strikingly absent.

The threshold?
By markelshark on 7/23/2014 5:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
This is all I can think of after reading this:

A Classic Mistake
By The Insolent One on 7/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: A Classic Mistake
By peterrushkin on 7/23/14, Rating: 0
RE: A Classic Mistake
By atechfan on 7/23/2014 5:51:13 PM , Rating: 2
You are basing this on?

RE: A Classic Mistake
By themaster08 on 7/24/2014 8:05:20 AM , Rating: 2
Do you people even read the articles or gather the facts before posting your idiocy?

There will still be multiple SKUs, containing different features, or even potentially different UI choices depending on the type of device that you're using.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Gunbuster on 7/23/2014 4:33:46 PM , Rating: 5
Except this is not synchronizing across platforms. It will be one platform.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By The Von Matrices on 7/23/2014 5:08:19 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that this will work a lot better than previous attempts at cross-platform software.

Cross-platform software usually doesn't work well because you can't completely control the underlying software upon which you depend. Whenever the base software is changed, you have to adapt whether you want to or not. As you add more and more platforms, these seemingly minor changes become headaches since they occur so frequently.

Microsoft doesn't have this problem. Windows doesn't depend on someone else's software; Microsoft can control when and if new features are implemented or removed. Microsoft only has to worry about the hardware support, and Microsoft has the market power to command certain hardware features be present to support its software.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Jeffk464 on 7/23/2014 8:25:08 PM , Rating: 3
I don't want cross platforms dang it. I want windows desktop and android mobile. I've already been thinking my next laptop would be a chromebook, this might push me more in that direction.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By retrospooty on 7/23/2014 4:42:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... It will wind up 1/2 assing it for all platforms rather than optimizing for any.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2014 4:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hard to say at this point. I'm looking forward to Threshold and what it brings to the table. I still think Windows 8 was the first step, albeit somewhat misguided, towards Windows moving into the next generation of devices. Threshold will get us the rest of the way there hopefully.

Too early to know. If nothing else this means Windows Phone phablets will become far more useful as they'll gain features from the desktop OS. ARM tablets should be more useful as well. And you'll be able to run apps across all your devices without issue. And you'll still have the Win32 environment for legacy and more traditional desktop applications. Seems like a win all the way around.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By retrospooty on 7/23/2014 5:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
I suppose its possible they wont find several ways to muck it up, but I am not holding my breath. Based on MS for the past 3 years, things dont look good. It will be interesting though.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2014 5:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
It does sound like my hopes for the direction they would take. But I'll wait until I can see it in action.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Spuke on 7/24/2014 10:30:12 AM , Rating: 2
It does sound like my hopes for the direction they would take. But I'll wait until I can see it in action.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By NellyFromMA on 7/24/2014 8:10:20 AM , Rating: 2
Not really. The reason some of the products feel like they could use some polishing over is because there is a lot of unnecessary redundancy across platforms for core functionality.

As such, all secondary functionality (essentially all apps that aren't the OS) must be redundantly implemented to cater to those fragmented code-bases.

This is just an attempt at addressing that issue.

I think people just like to freak out over nothing. This would actually make ALL products more stable and free up resources to implement new functionality and/or products.

They've already talked about bringing the start menu back and having it be on by default if you are running with a keyboard and mouse. That address 99.9% of anyones griped with Win8 in the first place. The latest announcement is more internal than anything. End-users aren't going to perceive a difference without looking deeply.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2014 7:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
OSX has pulled in a lot of stuff from iOS pretty effectively. Windows 8 was good other than a lack of a good interface for regular keyboard/mouse. They've fixed a lot of that.

Only reason I'm not upgrading is because of 9 being released in under a year.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By marvdmartian on 7/24/2014 7:43:03 AM , Rating: 2
BUT, does Apple run the same OS for both phones and computers?

NO. They realize the inherent differences, and tweak each OS for the platform it will reside on. Which is what MS is trying to get away from.

Like others have said, jack of all trades = master of none.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By Spuke on 7/24/2014 10:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
They realize the inherent differences, and tweak each OS for the platform it will reside on. Which is what MS is trying to get away from.
Where does it say that MS is not going to do this? What about having different SKU's don't you understand? Did you even read the article? Why are people taking Win8 so personal?

PS - There are some REALLY weird people here.

RE: A Classic Mistake
By name99 on 7/24/2014 1:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
They are taking this from Nadella's precise words "one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes ".

You can argue that Nadella is speaking technically here, that he means a common kernel. But that is disingenuous --- to normal people (which is his audience), the "OS" means the UI.

If that's not enough for you we have "It also allows us to scale the UI across all screen sizes."
It would be crazy to call OSX the iOS UI "scaled" to larger screen sizes. While there are superficial similarities (similar icons, similar fonts), the feel is very different, from the menu bar to multiple overlapping windows to the aggressive use of keyboard and pointing device plus chording (as opposed to the simply clicking and hold-clicking of iOS) to the use of very small "active" areas because the pointing device allows very fine click accuracy.

Way too long between 8 and 9
By tayb on 7/23/14, Rating: -1
RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By captainBOB on 7/23/2014 5:35:27 PM , Rating: 2
They are trying to do this, but they can't keep the current licensing scheme that they have had for years. Windows 8 to 8.1 was a very messy affair because 8.1 keys are different from 8 keys.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By sheh on 7/23/2014 8:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
The stupidity with the keys is the small problem. The larger is that updating 8 to 8.1 isn't really an update but a reinstall over an existing OS. It just doesn't work well and breaks half your system.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By mi1400 on 7/23/2014 11:49:28 PM , Rating: 1
well they have said unifying OS... not unifying Kernel... it might still be a bolt on riveted innards in win-9 and starting a next cycle of startmenu type false hopes that ok ok kernels will also be unified but not in windows 10 in windows 11 (maybe) .. And we will be preaching in tech forums to keep hopes high and prayers running for early release of windows-12 ... I just peed in my pants... BRB...

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By inighthawki on 7/24/2014 2:00:25 AM , Rating: 2
I just peed in my pants... BRB...

The rest of your post makes sense now...

The kernel is already unified, has been since Win8. Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone 8 all run mostly the same kernel.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By w1z4rd on 7/24/2014 8:25:08 AM , Rating: 2
Mostly doesnt realy mean unified tho

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By NellyFromMA on 7/24/2014 8:11:15 AM , Rating: 2
For what its worth, I had 0 issues what-so-ever updating my Win8 to 8.1.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By tamalero on 7/24/2014 12:13:36 PM , Rating: 2
Just fyi.. just because you did.. It doesn't mean thousands more didn't.

Still, I dont think Microsoft is all to blame.
For example.. Comodo firewall and similars. Causes bsod and freezes when you update from 8 to 8.1

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By sheh on 7/24/2014 12:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think Windows is to blame as the core cause of Comodo's failure. An upgrade OS install tries to migrate the drivers, but it doesn't migrate the network configuration. Consequently, Comodo's filter drivers probably weren't configured properly in the network stack.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By kattanna on 7/24/2014 10:43:13 AM , Rating: 2
The stupidity with the keys is the small problem

LOL.. I have bought a few 8.1 licenses now and WHY in the blazing hells are the keys themselves so damn small. almost impossible to read. had to whip out a rock magnifying glass to see the damn things.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By name99 on 7/24/2014 1:35:11 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with this point. You look at those license keys and it seems like a metaphor for Microsoft's problems. Is it a lack of care with details? A message that "once the check has cleared, you mean nothing to us"?
And it's not like this is some sort of new problem. MS has been printing these things for years, on multiple products; the only constant is that they NEVER get it right.

FWIW, the way I solved the problem was to use my iPhone (yes, let's plug the brand) to take a photo of the license key. With the photo in hand, it was very easy to blow it up to about 4x size, read the key, and print a much larger version.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By sheh on 7/23/2014 9:02:42 PM , Rating: 3
I'm willing and prefer to wait more. An fresh OS install, along with all software and settings, is so much work. And the gains are unclear. Unless they make it possible to do an clean upgrade that doesn't disrupt much, which I think would take a major redesign of the whole OS, an 8 year delta, like from XP to 7, would be my preference.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By Labotomizer on 7/24/2014 11:33:43 AM , Rating: 2
I haven't done a full reload of my home desktop in 5 years. Since Windows 7 Pro. The upgrade to 8 and then 8.1 have been flawless. Even the full hardware upgrades have gone without issue. My most recent upgrade failed to boot the first time, it restarted and ran a mini-setup to clean up hardware drivers and then it was a non-issue.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By sheh on 7/24/2014 12:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
Upgrade installs from 7 to 8 to 8.1? Wow. That's impressive. What about things like firewalls, or large and complex programs?

By Labotomizer on 7/24/2014 1:22:32 PM , Rating: 2
I've been running Microsoft Security Essentials, which migrates without issue. I use the windows firewall locally but have an ASA5512 on my home network. All my other programs moved over fine, software wasn't an issue, etc. It hasn't been a problem.

RE: Way too long between 8 and 9
By Arsynic on 7/24/2014 2:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
The market has not rejected it. The market has rejected low-cost PCs in favor of tablets. No one buys a cheap eMachines or HP just to browse the Internet and send e-mail. They buy an iPad or Samsung Galaxy. The Enterprise has rejected it because Windows 7 works just fine and many just recently migrated to Windows 7 from XP.

So people choose to interpret data which ever way fits their bias. I prefer to use Occam's Razor. Windows 8's launch coincided with the decline of the desktop and laptop. Hell, I read a story this morning that stated that tablet sales are now declining due to smaller laptops and convertibles meeting people's needs. What OS are those laptops and convertibles running? Not Windows 7. Any version of Windows prior to 8 is absolute garbage on anything with a touch screen.

Watch Windows 8 sales rise sharply with this trend. Why? Because the devices finally caught up with the OS. Windows 8 sucked on anything without a touchscreen. It's better, but it's not optimal on a non-touch device.

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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