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  (Source: Nazmus Khandaker)
New cross-platform OS project is unprecedented, arguably largest software project in history

A new report in The Seattle Times interviews some of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) top executives who describe the company's inspired new design direction.  
 
With Windows 9, Microsoft is plotting quite literally the largest software project in history; combining operating systems from at least five platforms, cloud services, and dozens of software projects into one tightly integrated cross-platform bundle of software.
 
It's an incredible vision.  And it's one that could change the entire industry.
 
I. The Path to Unification
 
A major part of why Windows 8 had so many rough edges was because it was an exercise in porting.  But much as Windows Vista was -- in some ways -- a necessary stepping-stone to the more polished and beloved Windows 7, Windows 8 (and 8.1) was necessary as a stepping-stone on the path towards unification.
 
There was always a fair amount of code exchange between the mobile and PC OS trees of Windows.  But in the era of Windows Mobile (2000-2010) that process was more infrequent and sporadic, with development of the two branches largely independent.  With the launch of Windows Phone in 2010, Microsoft found its design direction -- the Modern (Metro) UI.

IE 11 cross platform
 
With Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft looked to have greater code sharing between its various products.  But internally the situation had not substantially improved.  While Microsoft had a unified design and a number of share core features across its platforms, it now had four separate code trees -- Xbox, Windows RT, Windows, and Windows Phone.  Each platform's OS group had a separate design and software team.  When a change was made to core APIs or Modern UI in one of these platforms, it was a time consuming process to port them to the others.  
 
The first change came late last year with a leadership shakeup that unified Microsoft's OS design teams under a single common banner.  With Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 (and the Xbox One), Microsoft began the Herculean task of unifying pieces of its API.  But much work remained.
 
Windows 9
[Image Source: Windows Store (Wallpaper App)]

That work is reportedly culminating with Windows 9, Microsoft's first family of consumer-facing operating systems (OSes) to feature fully unified and synchronous development.  According to The Seattle Times, Windows 9 will be a watershed release for Microsoft.
 
On the backend, Microsoft is approaching maximum unification for APIs.  Form factors (touch, small screens, big screen TVs, etc.) mandate some specialist code, but for the most part Microsoft is reportedly aiming to give customers one look and feel across the smartphone, Xbox, tablet, PC, and tabletop computer (Microsoft's Perceptive Pixel offerings).
 
II. The Men Behind Microsoft's Moonshot
 
Two corporate vice presidents are leading the unification effort.  On the software front, David Treadwell, 47, is leading the update.  On the user interface (UI) front, Joey Belfiore (a veteran manager of the Windows Phone team), 46, is leading the effort.
 
Both VPs report to Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group.  In terms of consumer-facing products, one major result of the shifts in leadership was the emergence of the OS group as the leader in development direction -- a seemingly intuitive shift for a company who became a superpower thanks to its MS-DOS and Windows operating systems.
Terry Myerson
Terry Myerson, Microsoft EVP of OS Group
 
Mr. Myerson gushes about his two lieutenants:
 
Joe is just a magnificent painter. Dave is much more a plumber or electrician.  Together we all come together and build this fabulous house that is Windows.
 
Joe Belfiore
Joe Belfiore, Microsoft OS Group VP of UI Design

From now on, says Mr. Treadwell, expect a release to bring updates to all of Microsoft's major platforms.  He describes this revolutionary approach -- which no other OS maker has achieved yet -- stating:
 
We had to finish Windows 8.1 Update, Windows Phone 8.1, Xbox One.  Now that those are done, we are now on the same logistical schedules. We’re going to have one common OS schedule and everything’s going to be aligned with that. We’re doing common planning now, common priority, common release schedules.
 
David Treadwell
David Treadwell, Microsoft OS Group VP of OS Development

What's more, the report quotes Mr. Treadwell as describing how earlier this year an internal memo circulated to nearly all of Microsoft's teams, generating a consensus set of features for the next generation multi-platform operating system.  Mr. Treadwell describes:
 
Before, there was a Windows team, a Windows Phone team, an Xbox team. While there was general agreement of the value of (having a) common core and consistency of design, there were organizational lines that we had to cross to achieve that. There just aren’t these barriers now. 
 
And these efforts weren’t limited just to the OS developers.  They also worked with Microsoft's software and enterprise teams, including the teams responsible for Azure, Office, Bing, and Skype.  The result is that Windows 9 should be giving each Microsoft software project the tools it needs to create a next generation experience.

The software side of things has already come to bear with Microsoft's "Universal Apps", which offer quick porting of a single app across the PC, (HD) tablet, smartphone, and Xbox, with common permissions and bundled customer purchase options.
 
III. Why Windows 9 is a Game Changer
 
During Steve Ballmer's 14-year reign as CEO of Microsoft, there were some high notes, but in terms of market direction Microsoft undoubtedly lost some of its glow to consumers and investors.  Companies like Apple, Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc. (GOOG) emerged as real threats to Microsoft's hegemony of personal computing.
 
But with Satya Nadella's tireless commitment to cloud-back services and a unified Microsoft -- his "One Microsoft" vision -- Microsoft appears poised to be producing the most massive and efficient multi-platform project in history.

OneDrive
 
Both Apple and Google are headed in a similar direction. OS X 10.10 is expected to take design cues from iOS 7.  But neither company appears as far along as Microsoft.  What Microsoft is planning -- a singular cross platform update for large computers, consoles, PCs, tablets, and smartphones -- is unprecedented.  It's never been done.  Microsoft is also working to tightly integrate its packed stable of consumer software offerings into these updates, and it's an incredible vision from a technical perspective.

While casual consumers can look forward to a higher degree of polish, there's plenty for power users and enthusiasts to eagerly await, as well.  Microsoft has already stated that either Windows 8.2 (an interim release) or Windows 9 will feature the return of the Start Menu to Desktop Mode.  What's more, Microsoft engineers have hinted that Windows 9 may at last introduce multiple switchable desktops, a much beloved feature from Linux.

Windows: return of the Start Menu
Microsoft is bringing the sexy Start Menu back.  [Image Source: Redmond Pie]
 
Windows 9 is on pace for an April 2015 release.  Windows for tablets and smartphones is expected to continue to be free to OEMs, a major edge over Google's Android which brings licensing fees of $5-15 USD per device to Microsoft.

Needless to say, if Microsoft delivers what its promising with Windows 9, it could be a game changer for the entire industry, the effects of which could be felt for decades to come.

Source: The Seattle Times



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Will need to see.
By Monkey's Uncle on 6/2/2014 9:52:28 AM , Rating: -1
Windows 8 was a total clusterf**k even worse than Windows ME or Vista.

Usually after they hose themselves in the marketplace they do eventually pull a gem out of their efforts. Lets hope they can pull a gem with Win 9. I suspect that from the location where they are pulling gem, it will need a good rinsing off after launch before it actually shine.

We will just have to see.




RE: Will need to see.
By Digimonkey on 6/2/2014 10:05:05 AM , Rating: 5
Depends. Windows 8 was at least stable, which is something that couldn't be said for the other two. Vista was somewhat understandable as their was a major rework in the way drivers worked. Windows ME was just a complete POS without any excuse.


RE: Will need to see.
By Etsp on 6/2/2014 10:10:03 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty much what I logged in to say. Vista's biggest problem was hardware drivers.

I use Windows 8.1 (and 8 before that) on a daily basis with a keyboard and mouse. Yes, there are definitely some steps back in the UI, but overall it's a very stable and solid system.

I can't speak to how lean it is, as I have a LOT of extra ram so I can spin up some VM's in HyperV.


RE: Will need to see.
By Samus on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Will need to see.
By Etsp on 6/2/2014 4:34:55 PM , Rating: 2
I had plenty of RAM in my system, so my IO issue with Vista was that Superfetch would get stuck on certain files and just keep reading it, for hours. Really annoying.


RE: Will need to see.
By Silver2k7 on 6/2/2014 10:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
Win7 Ultimate x64 installed only a few months ago still 20GB.


RE: Will need to see.
By Silver2k7 on 6/2/2014 10:19:53 PM , Rating: 3
Nothing wrong with an OS taking 20GB or more in 2014.
SSD's are finally starting to get decently sized. We finally start seeing 1TB consumer drives with Samsung 840 EVO for example.


RE: Will need to see.
By stm1185 on 6/2/2014 11:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yep and furthermore with the proliferation of cloud services and online streaming, the need to have large amount of files on the PC is going down.

No video collection anymore, Netflix/Amazon/..., no music collection anymore, Spotify, short term work files in the cloud, long term backed up on external.

Games are the only thing really taking up my HD space these days. For most people that won't be an issue. If I removed all my games, I'd probably only be using 40-50gb of my 250gb drive.


RE: Will need to see.
By name99 on 6/3/2014 1:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
Uhh --- it IS a problem if you have delusions (as MS appears to) that this same OS is going to be used everywhere from home automation (smart lightbulbs, Dropcam) to auto UIs to set top boxes (which are AppleTV sized rather than Xbox sized) to servers...


RE: Will need to see.
By Spuke on 6/2/2014 10:15:04 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed, Win8 was NOTHING like ME or Vista. It's extremely stable and the under the hood changes are make it well worth using. Jesus people, there's more to an OS than the GUI. You know, the more time I spend here the more I realize just how many tech noobs there are on this site. And some of you act like straight up basic users.


RE: Will need to see.
By synapse46 on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Will need to see.
By Flunk on 6/2/2014 11:08:40 AM , Rating: 2
Only if you arbitrarily define your concept of Windows 8 to not include the Windows 8.1 service pack. Microsoft changing their naming scheme on updates to be more obvious doesn't make a new OS.

Anyway, each one of these is better than the last.

Window Me -> Unstable, never fully fixed
Windows Vista -> Initially drivers were unavailable or unstable (Especially graphics cards).
Windows 8 -> Unpopular UI changes.

Here's hoping they get it right with Windows 9. Converging the OSes is a good idea, but it's very difficult to do well in practice. If it doesn't work out there are plenty of OS alternatives.


RE: Will need to see.
By Bateluer on 6/2/2014 6:52:55 PM , Rating: 4
"Windows Vista -> Initially drivers were unavailable or unstable (Especially graphics cards)."

Point of clarification, only Nvidia graphics cards. AMD cards were 100% stable with fully WHQL certified drivers available before Vista's launch day.


RE: Will need to see.
By p05esto on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Will need to see.
By Chaser on 6/2/2014 11:57:49 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
I spend here the more I realize just how many tech noobs there are on this site.
Thank you.

Today when I go to Windows 7 or older it's a let down. I have to adjust myself.

But with the broken record Windows 8 naysayers I envision those people slowly moving their mice carefully up and down their start menus wearing coke bottle reading glasses like a person stuck in the middle of Manhattan with a paper map.


RE: Will need to see.
By inperfectdarkness on 6/3/2014 2:48:58 AM , Rating: 2
I tend to agree. The biggest "hurdle" to a fresh install of Win 8.0 is the leg-work required to get to 8.1 AND familiarizing yourself with a workaround for not having a start menu (i.e. a folder called "start menu" in the lower left corner that has shortcuts to all your frequently used programs).

Once you get it up and running, it's a fantastic OS--and imho--better than Win 7. There's minor gripes like the windows button taking you to the metro interface, but you get used to using Win-F or something instead.

Most of all though, it takes 20 seconds from the time I click "reboot" until I have a login screen. So I'm a believer.


RE: Will need to see.
By sheh on 6/3/2014 9:27:30 AM , Rating: 2
That's your current workaround? How about ClassicShell?


RE: Will need to see.
By inperfectdarkness on 6/3/2014 2:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
What worries me about 9 is that sometimes when you try an merge too many things together, it becomes woefully bloated and inefficient. Take DHS for example...or all of Washington DC in general. Reaching "too far, too fast" is what caused 8 to be a clusterf**k. And I say this as a windows 8.1 user.

I'm also worried about background resource hogging, not so much for gaming PC's, but for consoles & smartphones...this could be a potential issue.

P.S.
Because of the unified OS, expect that PC gaming it going to take another hit. Don't be surprised if the cheapest 9th gen console is in the neighborhood of $700; hardcore PC gamers aren't going to be able to generate sufficient demand to keep the trickle-down tech process rolling in favor of consoles.

P.P.S.
Doesn't MS's press-releases on this seem like more of an apology for "we dun f**ked up"--rather than a "hey, look at this cool thing we're doing"?


RE: Will need to see.
By euler007 on 6/2/2014 10:10:14 AM , Rating: 4
How many hours have you spent in windows 8? I've been working full time on a windows 8 (8.1 now) workstation since september and when I go back to my windows 7 Aero desktop at home it feels outdated, I actually prefer 8.1 right now.

My next home build will probably be a Haswell-E pc with windows 9 next spring.


RE: Will need to see.
By Nutzo on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Will need to see.
By Murst on 6/2/2014 2:48:34 PM , Rating: 3
What exactly do you use in Win Server 2012 that uses the metro UI?

The start menu does, but I can't really think of anything else that would use it. Computer management, powershell, etc, do not use the metro UI.

Also, if you do not like any of the UI, you can always install Server 2012 without it.


RE: Will need to see.
By euler007 on 6/2/2014 6:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
Real men do everything in powershell on a server core!

All kidding aside, a big part of me moving to windows 8 WAS to manage a server 2012. I have the hyper-v manager and the other management tools installed and I connect to the server to manage it. I only use RDP when necessary and a physical console when I have to be in the server room for a reason (a few times a year).


RE: Will need to see.
By Newspapercrane on 6/2/2014 10:10:06 AM , Rating: 2
Okay... wait... hold up.

Did you even use Windows ME? Vista comparison aside, Windows ME was a complete piece of garbage. While Windows 8 may have usability issues, please don't confuse those with stability issues of Windows ME. While Windows 8's interface may be flawed, just about everything about Windows ME was flawed.

I get that you don't like change, but that's just ridiculous.


RE: Will need to see.
By FITCamaro on 6/2/2014 10:44:48 AM , Rating: 4
Seriously. I had 512MB of RAM in my Windows ME computer in 2001 and it had to be rebooted once a day due to all the memory leaks in the OS. Windows 8 is a solid OS on the backend, just the front end focused solely on touch without considering traditional users which created usability issues.

Even Vista wasn't that bad. Vista just had initial driver issues (not the fault of Microsoft) and also was a bit of a memory hog. But the core OS was much more solid than even XP.


RE: Will need to see.
By YearOfTheDingo on 6/2/2014 4:30:48 PM , Rating: 2
You're forgetting how busted File Explorer was in Vista. Simple operations like file copying were slooow. Accessing network drives over VPN was flat out unusable.


RE: Will need to see.
By nikon133 on 6/2/2014 5:22:54 PM , Rating: 2
Worked (and still does) very nice for me, but like I said before - I can see people having problem with it's bipolar personality. It is just that, for some reason, I didn't have problem.

As a result, I don't mind it on my desktop and laptop, and I love it on my tablet - which I use, say, 95% in Modern UI, switching to desktop only if I want to do something in Office (rarely on tablet) or copy files from home lan location (3rd party Modern file managers are very picky, and MS, unfortunately, didn't bother releasing Windows Explorer for Modern).

I'd go that far to say that, after using both Android and Apple tablets as well, Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Win 8.1 Pro is my favourite tablet so far.


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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