Considering Microsoft’s on-off history with releasing successful operating systems it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Microsoft’s success with the Windows platform from here on out (in a world where Apple is thriving and consumer-focused Linux distributions are popping up like advertisements for Internet Explorer users) rests on their ability to make another successful release this time around. Of course, I’m pretty impressed with Windows 7 as it is and believe that Microsoft has made a very solid comeback after the miserable failure that was Windows Visa, but when it comes down to it Microsoft is really facing quite a bit of competition now and in order to hold its position as a driving force in the software industry they’re going to not only meet the current standards in operating systems but rather blow everyone away.
As simple of a concept as this is, I recently read a very interesting and thought-provoking article on ComputerWorld that discusses how Windows 8 will affect Microsoft’s Windows Phone line; a mobile operating system that despite being incredibly promising simply hasn’t gotten the traction in the mobile industry that we’ve seen with Apple’s iPhone and iOS or Google’s Android mobile operating system. So the question is poised; will Windows 8 help Windows Phone’s presence in the mobile industry.
Off that bat I have to agree with Mr. Gralla’s point that Windows 8’s interface will introduce countless users to the Metro UI and get them used to the Windows Phone platform, regardless of if they’re aware of it at the time or not. When you really look at it, Apple has been rather successful in doing the same thing by “borrowing” features and design aspects between iOS and Mac OS X in order to unify their products and fill the gap between mobile in desktop. And regardless of your opinion on Apple, you really can’t deny their success in bridging the two operating systems.
But when it comes down to it, function really does trump form. After all, what good is a similarly designed family of operating systems if they lack solid integration? So as much as I feel that the shared interface is important and as much as I feel it will help Windows Phone’s success, I think that there are other aspects that are going to have a bigger influence on how both Windows 8 and Windows Phone fare with consumers.
What exactly am I talking about? With seemingly accurate speculation that Windows 8 will be able to run Windows Phone applications I think that Microsoft really does stand to do a better job than Apple has at bridging desktop and mobile operating systems. I mean, if Microsoft creates an environment where users can run the exact same applications on their phones as they can on their desktops, there isn’t a part of me that doubts Microsoft will be able to attract Windows Phone developers like never before, because when it comes down to it the combined of Windows 8 and Windows Phone users will simply be too great to pass up. And as I’ve discussed in the past, I truly feel that the lack of eager developers is the one thing that is holding Windows Phone back from mainstream success.
I also think this same concept will be invaluable for Microsoft when it comes to winning over end users. After all, even with all of the awesome mobile and desktop applications out there, it has always amazed me at how poorly most of them worked together. By making bridging the gap between mobile and desktop applications users will likely be attracted to the simplicity of using Microsoft’s family of products.
Of course the fact that Windows Mobile applications will be able to run on Windows 8 but not the other way around is a bit of a bummer, but once fuel is thrown on the Windows Phone development fire I think things really will begin to work out. And much like we see iOS applications that can run on both the iPhone and the iPad, it wouldn’t surprise me to see single applications that run slightly differently on the desktop than they do on mobile devices in order to “optimize” themselves for different screen sizes.
So what do you think? Will you be upgrading to Windows 8 when it comes out? If so, do you think the bridge between Windows 8 and the Windows Phone platform will make you more inclined to consider a Windows Phone product? Leave your thoughts in the comments!