Anyone who remotely follows Microsoft’s release cycle of the Windows operating system has likely noticed the somewhat obvious fact that Microsoft’s success with each release is spotty at best. Sure, Windows 7 has been on the market for a while now and has achieved a pretty outstanding adoption rate and has earned a killer reputation amongst consumers, but Windows Vista – the release prior to that – has widely been seen as a horrid release. Before that Microsoft earned high ratings with Windows XP, and before that the Windows ME release was looked down upon like nothing else. What point am I trying to get across here? Whenever we prepare for Microsoft to release another version of Windows, we as consumers really have to question how solid of a release it’s going to be.
This time around is going to be especially interesting because Microsoft is implementing such dramatic changes into the operating system. With a more refined layout that closely resembles the Windows Phone 7 mobile layout – a much more dramatic implementation of a mobile-like environment in comparison to Apple’s iOS-inspired scrollbars and gestures in Lion – Microsoft really has been working hard to overhaul the operating system in order to meet the needs and expectations of modern-day users. And even as someone who has come to prefer the Linux and Mac OS X side of things, I must say that the screenshots that have been posted around the Internet of the upcoming Windows 8 release have been incredibly impressive. Of course, there are things like the implementation of the ribbon UI that I’m not too fond of, but overall I really do think that Windows 8 has the potential to break the on-off “good release, bad release” cycle that Microsoft has become infamous for over the years.
This week Nvidia’s CEO has let it slip out that the upcoming Windows 8 release will be able to run applications originally designed for the Windows Phone platform. Admittedly this news didn’t quite sit right with me at first, but the more and more that I think about it this move could be one of Microsoft’s most clever moves yet.
You see, if Windows Phone apps suddenly have the potential to be utilized on the PC side of things, the number of potential users for any given application would become exponentially higher than what it would be today. With that in mind, Microsoft could finally get over the long-time rut that it’s been in in not being able to attract Windows Phone 7 developers. This is of course because developers will be able to write their applications that can be used on a virtually unlimited number of machines. Of course, this move being successful hinges directly on the number of users that opt to upgrade from the version of Windows that they’re on now, as a low adoption rate would kill any justification that a developer would have to write for the Windows and Windows Phone platforms.
And because Microsoft maintains a Windows Phone Marketplace it would only make sense that the company would make the same storefront available to users on the Windows Phone system available to Windows desktop users as well. I mean, why would you have a marketplace for mobile applications and not allow more users to take advantage of it? After all, the use of what is currently the Windows Phone marketplace on the PC platform would quite frankly be the icing on the cake for attracting developers; not to mention consumers.
Better yet, it is my understanding (feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m incorrect) that Windows Phone applications are predominantly built upon a “Isolated Storage” in which each applications reads, writes, and stores all of the settings, values, files, and data that it needs in its own little sandbox-like environment. Needless to say, this would have to be something that we’d see with Windows Phone applications running on Windows 8, meaning that we may very well be seeing the downfall of the Windows Registry system. That in itself is an awesome achievement.
Last but not least, Windows Phone applications on the full-fledged desktop operating system really do open up new doors for Microsoft in the tablet industry as well. By narrowing the margin between Windows and Windows Mobile, Microsoft is essentially setting themselves up to be able to introduce tablets running Windows 8; giving users access to a full desktop operating system on a tablet while not sacrificing the convenience of their mobile applications.
Really, I’m completely psyched about this whole thing. When I first heard about it, I quite honestly thought that Microsoft was going in the wrong direction with this move and that the company would have been better off focusing on making more desktop applications available on the mobile platform. But the more that I think about it, this move is actually reasonable doable, and in the long run I think it will pay off for Microsoft big time.
What do you think about all of this? Let us know in the comments!