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Microsoft wants you to be able to run any app in all three ecosystems

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) currently curates three environments -- Xbox, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8 -- all of which have different development libraries and require a lot of work to port from one to another.

But Microsoft hopes that with the Xbox One and Windows/Windows Phone 8.1 releases, these platforms can be brought together to the extent that a developer can make single app that can run on all three devices.  That's the vision new Windows Chief Terry Myerson -- formerly the head of the Windows Phone unit -- is pushing as Microsoft reorganizes following the acquisition of phonemaker Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) and the pending departure of CEO Steve Ballmer.

At the a Financial Analysts meeting, he remarked:

The first of those [beliefs] is that we really should have one silicon interface for all of our devices," he said. "We should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices. [We want] to facilitate the creation of a common – a familiar – experience across all of those devices, but a fundamentally tailored and unique experience for each device.  [We] should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices.

Of course it may be impossible to escape some sorts of optimizations for more serious apps; after all Windows Phone is a very different screen size, while Xbox has extra media and gaming hardware resources.

Windows 8 tablet
Critcs complain about Microsoft's lack of a unified tablet/phone Windows Store.

Some are surprised that given Microsoft's push of various apps including the Office Suite to the cloud that it still lacks a single unified app store for its tablets and smartphones.  Apple, Inc. (AAPL) already has such an app store.  Microsoft might be able to follow a similar model to Apple in order to deal with the screen size problem -- allowing phone apps to run on the tablet, in upscaled form -- while making higher definition apps tablet/PC exclusive.

It's important to understand that at this point it's just talk -- we have no idea when Microsoft's unified environment will actually be ready for the market.  But Microsoft already has a unified interface (the Modern UI, aka "Metro UI") across all of its upcoming devices, so we're not that far off.  Microsoft's many developers should prepare themselves for this shift.

Sources: Microsoft, NeoWin



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RE: What will come of this?
By inighthawki on 9/20/2013 5:20:44 PM , Rating: 5
I don't think this has anything to do with the interface, and more about the underlying platform SDK. A common set of APIs. Write once, deploy to all. Nothing dictates that each has to use the same interface, or how the apps will be displayed to the user.


RE: What will come of this?
By retrospooty on 9/20/13, Rating: 0
RE: What will come of this?
By damianrobertjones on 9/20/13, Rating: -1
RE: What will come of this?
By retrospooty on 9/20/13, Rating: 0
RE: What will come of this?
By YearOfTheDingo on 9/20/2013 10:30:58 PM , Rating: 4
Write-once, run-anywhere is a pipe dream. The biggest challenge to getting a software program to run somewhere isn't architecture difference or incompatibility or whatever. The biggest challenge is getting people to want to use your software. If they think it sucks, then it ain't going to run anywhere. You're not the only developer in the world. There're many others out there doing the same thing as you. If they choose to focus on a single platform, their solution is going to be better than yours.


RE: What will come of this?
By name99 on 9/21/2013 12:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
A million times yes.
We have been through this already a dozen times, and it has always played out the same way.


RE: What will come of this?
By Flunk on 9/23/2013 10:22:20 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree, in today's "post PC" market people want to be able to work on one device, then put it down and pick up on another.

I think we're going to see a lot more cross-platform connectivity and if we can write the same based code with different interfaces for each it's going to save a lot of money and development time.

Different apps on different devices is an idea from another age. People want everything, everywhere, every time and as obnoxious as that is to program we need to support it with appropriate interfaces.


RE: What will come of this?
By Scrogneugneu on 9/21/2013 11:41:30 PM , Rating: 2
The interface or the SDK is not the problem. The platforms are the problem.

The usage patterns for a XBox, a PC and a Phone are very different, and I don't really think a single application would make sense on all 3 platforms at once. And even if there could be some specific examples, the vast majority will not fit the bill.

The amount of work required to create new, unified APIs is incredible, and getting developers to follow and use this new API is even harder.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay














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