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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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RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 10:11:13 AM , Rating: 3
Not really... The problem with 8 was the UI for the 2 different interfaces was merged. So long as there are options so anyone can choose to use the touch interface or the kb/mouse interface it can work just fine.


RE: Fast learners
By Spuke on 6/2/2014 10:17:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So long as there are options so anyone can choose to use the touch interface or the kb/mouse interface it can work just fine.
Explain to me what the kb/mouse or the touch interface is. I use 8.1 daily and I haven't seen that option.


RE: Fast learners
By Digimonkey on 6/2/2014 10:24:29 AM , Rating: 3
I believe he is referring to what Microsoft has talked about with re-adding the start menu. They would basically detect if you have a mouse and add a start menu if you do, if you don't it wouldn't be there. So the GUI would be adjusted based on the device type, but the underlying core and API would be unified.


RE: Fast learners
By Spuke on 6/2/2014 1:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I believe he is referring to what Microsoft has talked about with re-adding the start menu.
Thanks but based on his comment below it seems he's talking about the current Win8.1 not future releases. I'm still not seeing where there is a differentiated UI in the present version.


RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 8:05:24 PM , Rating: 2
??? No, that is exactly what I was talking about. There are 2 things.

- 1: The UI's converging
- 2: The OS's converging

Win 8 converged the UI's (IMO) badly for users that still had a KB mouse. That seems to be resolved in 8.2 this fall with the hybrid UI and the windowed metro apps.

The post I was replying to was saying "they did #1 badly so the answer is to do #2. I was saying the 2 are separate and they are already fixing #1, so #2 wont necessarily be bad.


RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 10:59:26 AM , Rating: 4
"Explain to me what the kb/mouse or the touch interface is. I use 8.1 daily and I haven't seen that option."

There isnt an option, that is the problem with 8 and why everyone was so pissed. The comment above said they screwed up converging 2 and the answer is to add more... I commented to say the convergence wasn't the issue, it was forcing a single UI for totally different interfaces (kb/mouse or the touch) that was the issue.

We have already heard that Win8.2 fixes that with the hybrid start menu (pic above). I was simply saying that it can be done if done right and options given for the UI.


RE: Fast learners
By bug77 on 6/2/14, Rating: -1
RE: Fast learners
By Etsp on 6/2/2014 10:35:48 AM , Rating: 5
I disagree. There have been a number of new features and enhancements in Windows 8 over Windows 7 unrelated to the "modern" UI.


RE: Fast learners
By bug77 on 6/2/14, Rating: -1
RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 11:29:18 AM , Rating: 2
It is alot when you look at 8.1. Also,. $200? Where on Earth do you buy stuff, Beverly Hills?

Try $119 MSRP, but it can be found much cheaper.

http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Windows-8-1-Full-V...


RE: Fast learners
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 11:54:59 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed. I wouldn't pay a cent for it. I was just wondering where he got that price info. It's $92 at Amazon for the full retail non-OEM version.

As for potentially "worth it" the new Hybrid UI is supposed to be added to 8.2 as a free upgrade, so to me that is worth it at that point. I actually like it. Somehow the combo of both is better than either based on what we have seen so far. IMHO


RE: Fast learners
By DT_Reader on 6/2/14, Rating: 0
RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 1:02:16 PM , Rating: 3
You just added a whole lot of stuff that has nothing to do with Win 8 or anything about upgrading OS's for that matter. After reading your post, I agree with you though, you should stay on Win 7.

BTW, if you arent already backed up, your asking for trouble. Your drive can die at any second.


RE: Fast learners
By Spuke on 6/2/2014 1:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
My cost was $39 for the Win8 upgrade (from Win7). 8.1 was free. Well worth it for that price. If I had to pay $100, I would've waited till my next system upgrade.


RE: Fast learners
By bug77 on 6/2/2014 1:21:14 PM , Rating: 2
I think I was looking at the price for Win8.1 Pro. As you correctly anticipated, OEM licenses are not for me, I like ti upgrade stuff on my PC.


RE: Fast learners
By Etsp on 6/2/2014 12:00:12 PM , Rating: 4
Those weren't actually the features I was referring to, but as a power user I really like the new copy file dialog and the improved task manager.

I was thinking more along the lines of HyperV and Storage Spaces (used along-side ReFS) and File History, along with the tighter integration of OneDrive. Also dual-monitor support for the taskbar is nice.


RE: Fast learners
By DT_Reader on 6/2/2014 12:25:29 PM , Rating: 2
I've had the ability to mount ISO images since XP, thanks to a free Microsoft utility that still works in Windows 7 and that Microsoft is still giving away: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.as...

P.S. It says "CD-ROM Control Panel" but it works with DVD ISO images, too.


RE: Fast learners
By Mr Perfect on 6/2/2014 12:58:53 PM , Rating: 1
Holy shit, that's cool. I've seen similar programs from less reputable sources and never wanted to risk using them. This one at least won't have a hidden bitcoing mining function or something in it. :P

Well, I'm off to see if this works with Diablo 1. Can't believe that game streams everything off the freaking disk... It's as slow today as it was back in 2000.


RE: Fast learners
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/14, Rating: -1
RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 11:00:55 AM , Rating: 2
Then you haven't bothered to read the spec list. There are a ton of improvements. Nothing revolutionary, but it is certainly a good evolutionary step.


RE: Fast learners
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2014 12:07:31 PM , Rating: 1
The problem was it took usability backwards to the point that none of those improvements mattered.


RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 2:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yup... The forced UI was certainly borked big time. At least they are fixing it soon though.


RE: Fast learners
By Spuke on 6/2/2014 7:08:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The problem was it took usability backwards to the point that none of those improvements mattered.
For you. Works great for me.


RE: Fast learners
By Samus on 6/2/2014 1:46:10 PM , Rating: 3
bug77, Windows 8 is a huge evolution over Windows 7, just like Vista was over XP, and Windows 2000 (NT kernel) was over Windows 9x.

Windows 8 is the first fully-native UEFI Windows OS, with a new WINPE environment, numerous network and kernel stack optimizations, and uncountable security improvements.

It doesn't even "feel" like Windows 7 at the desktop level. Once your used to Windows 8, going back to Windows 7 feels like going back to XP in some ways.


RE: Fast learners
By DT_Reader on 6/2/2014 12:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
So "Metro" apps, which you can only buy from the Microsoft Store, will now run on the desktop via the Start menu?

And legacy desktop programs, which you "side load" to the PC, will now run on the "Metro" side of the OS? And will run on Phones and the Xbox?

Somehow I doubt either of those will happen. Legacy Microsoft programs, such as Office, will fade away into the cloud. Legacy 3rd-party programs, such as Autocad, will continue to only run on the desktop and their vendors will be pressured to drop support for the desktop and get with the "Metro" program.

They'd just better continue to allow "side loading" of 3rd-party desktop programs; if the only way to obtain software is via the Microsoft Store then they'll lose a lot of corporate customers to the Mac - unless Apple closes the Mac when they unify OS-X and iOS. Then they'll both be daring their corporate customers to jump to Linux, and with Google Docs, why not?


RE: Fast learners
By retrospooty on 6/2/2014 12:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
"So "Metro" apps, which you can only buy from the Microsoft Store, will now run on the desktop via the Start menu?"

Yes, it's been announced and you can even see it on the screenshot above. It will be in the August update Win8.2 free...

"And legacy desktop programs, which you "side load" to the PC, will now run on the "Metro" side of the OS?"

I hadnt heard that. Not sure.

"They'd just better continue to allow "side loading" of 3rd-party desktop programs"

Of course they will... It's Windows. That has always been fine. At least on the PC/Desktop/Laptop side.


"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad














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