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7/24/2014
08:45 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Nadella's Windows 9 And Device Plans, Explained

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says his company is "streamlining" Windows into a converged OS, and "right-sizing" its device efforts. But what does this really mean?

Microsoft Office For iPad Vs. iWork Vs. Google
Microsoft Office For iPad Vs. iWork Vs. Google
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during this week's earnings call that the next version of Windows will "streamline" from three operating systems -- Windows, Windows RT, and Windows Phone -- "into a single, converged [OS] for screens of all sizes." He also detailed Microsoft's scaled-down device strategy, including its integration of Nokia, a subject Nadella had previously broached in only the broadest terms.

Windows 8 earned its reputation as a flop largely because it threw a hodgepodge of interfaces at users. Microsoft's Surface tablets, meanwhile, remain a controversial and money-losing experiment (though, to give credit where it's due, company execs say the newly-released Pro 3 is outselling earlier models). Microsoft also just laid off half the workers who joined in the $7 billion Nokia merger. Given the somewhat chaotic context surrounding Microsoft's OS and device strategies, it's worth exploring what exactly Nadella plans to change.

Regarding the next version of Windows -- which is codenamed Threshold and likely will hit the market as Windows 9 -- Nadella wasn't talking about a single UI that magically scales across devices. There won't be a desktop on your phone, and it's unlikely that touch-oriented Live Tiles will appear by default when Threshold loads on PCs and laptops.

When Nadella says Microsoft is making "one" Windows, he still means there will be different versions for different device types and different groups of users. If that sounds confusing, here's Nadella's more nuanced description of the transition: "We will unify our stores, commerce, and developer platforms to drive a more coherent user experience and a broader developer opportunity."

When asked for more details during a Q&A with analysts, Nadella said, "Now we have one team with a layered architecture that enables us to, in fact, for developers, bring that collective opportunity with one store, one commerce system, one discoverability mechanism." He added that Windows versions will still be segmented, with multiple variations targeted at enterprises, as well as low-cost and free OEM versions to drive manufacturing of budget devices. Nadella said his plan has "more to do with how we are bringing teams together to approach Windows as one ecosystem very different than we, ourselves, have done in the past."

Nadella's statement wasn't necessarily news as much as a natural extension of the "universal apps" concept the company announced last April at Build, its developers conference. Universal apps allow developers to target multiple form factors from largely the same codebase and tools. No one at Microsoft thinks apps should behave the same way on a smartphone that they do on a traditional, mouse-reliant PC. But users' data should be able to translate across devices, and reconstitute itself according to the strengths of whatever gadget the user chooses. Before, developers had to laboriously engineer such cohesion bit by bit, essentially building multiple versions of an app from scratch, using different tools and frameworks for each. Now, developers will be able to largely re-use code, and to create experiences that move from device to device as easily as users -- at least that's Microsoft's pitch.

Within Microsoft, meanwhile, engineers will work together more closely. It makes sense for OneNote or Excel to have different UI elements on tablets than on conventional PCs, but it doesn't make sense for the two different teams to design two different apps, and then worry after the fact about uniting them. It also makes sense for Microsoft to release great versions of OneNote on other platforms, but to bake it and other services deeply into Windows, so as to provide the most grounds-up, integrated, and productive experience.  When Nadella talks about a unified Windows, this is the kind of change he's talking about.

Based on the most recent unconfirmed reports, online leaks, and the few specific details Microsoft has teased, Threshold will recognize the kind of

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio
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sten2005
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sten2005,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/27/2014 | 6:28:42 PM
Re: VB6 programming on Windows 10
VB6 installs and runs on the Windows 10 technical preview.

It looks like VB6 programming is suppported on Windows 10.

 
anon9312388588
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anon9312388588,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2014 | 2:31:41 PM
Re: VB6 programming on Windows 9
If there is a beta version of Wiindows 9 made available in September we should find out if VB6 programming is supported.

Hopefully either the VB6 runtime will be included, or it will be installable.

The Visual Basic programming community needs this.

 
anon0034487558
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anon0034487558,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/27/2014 | 7:02:13 AM
VB6 programming on Windows 9
Will Windows 9 include the VB6 runtime to allow Visual Basic 6.0 (VB6) programming ?

And if this is 'One Windows' does that mean the VB6 runtime will be on all versions ?

 
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/26/2014 | 3:06:47 PM
Re: What?
MS could always do with Windows what the developers of the X Window System did from the very start and make the UI independent of the underlying system.  Windows apps don't care whether or not there is a start button or any other specific UI feature' all they care about is whether the system supports what they're trying to do.

 
jries921
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jries921,
User Rank: Ninja
7/26/2014 | 2:57:45 PM
So the vicious cycle continues
It appears that Windows 9 will be "Windows 8 done right", just as Windows 7 has been "Vista done right".  Hopefully, Windows 10 will break that cycle, but time will tell.  Just as it did with DOS, MS has fallen into the habit of releasing stable, well-received odd-numbered versions of Windows, while even numbered ones end up with major problems; Windows 95 (Windows 4.0) and Windows NT 4.0 appear to be the only significant exceptions to this rule.


It is helpful that Satya Nadella seems to understand the difference between an OS and a UI, especially that the former can have more than one of the latter; the tendency at MS throughout the history of Windows has been to conflate the two.

 
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
7/25/2014 | 4:25:07 PM
Re: What?
The devil is not in the details, its in the GUI.

Being able to write various logic-ish layers that translate across the platforms is one thing, and quite attainable. It even exists to an extent right now. Its the view layer that is the bugger.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
7/25/2014 | 12:15:47 PM
Re: Common app platform requires a common UI
You're right; that could have been phrased better. It would be more accurate to say that no Start screen will be included by default in the desktop UI-- so no hopping back and forth between interfaces like there is now. Live Tiles (albeit evidently not as touch-centric) will be integrated into the Start menu, though it sounds like users will be able to control what appears, so if there aren't any Modern apps you like, you should be able to largely purge them. The Live Tiles themselves won't be so touch-centric, meanwhile. Most notably, they'll be able to launch into windowed mode, like legacy apps, not just full-screen mode.
rcasey
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rcasey,
User Rank: Strategist
7/25/2014 | 11:38:12 AM
Re: What?
Yes.  It's called consolidation.
BrainN671
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BrainN671,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2014 | 11:26:17 PM
Re: 'One Windows' a marketing ploy
I think what he has in mind is creating apps accross platforms that share a common visiion. They will have to handle the UI in the best way for the device but their data should be common and they should to the extent possible allow present a common experience. Taking advantage of the the capabilities each platform to make the combination of devices more powerful.

Look at online banking as an example. I  use my phone for most of my online banking but my real computer provides a better experience if I need to review more than a few transactions at a time. My main computer does not have a camera but my phone does. Each device adds to the capabilities of the whole. The interfaces are different but I accomplish actions in a similar way.


What if you could use your home computer for it's large screen, disk space, and computing power to do your day to day heavy computing. And use your tablet to present the work in a meeting and your phone to get making a minor change on the fly. And do it all without the cumbsome pasting and searching for files to email or transfer via another application, each of which works different on each platform.

Facebook has games that can be played on different platforms with a minimal difference in functionallity but I can't even get Outlook to move from one computer to the next without a lot of pain or buying extra software.


True intergration between platforms cannot happen with different teams working towards different goals. If Microsoft can focus their teams toward common goals the results could amazing. However software is all about the next new feature and getting it done as fast as possible. What are the chances of getting anything but glued together cross functionallity?

 
crossslide
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crossslide,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/24/2014 | 10:51:20 PM
Common app platform requires a common UI
I don't understand why you say "... it's unlikely that touch-oriented Live Tiles will appear by default when Threshold loads on PCs and laptops.", when the screenshot of your article shows exactly that in the new desktop view of Start.

Of course if it has a common app platform, it has to have a common UI to some extent. In order for an app to run on the desktop, every element of the system shell UI that the app can integrate with - tiles, charms/contracts, notifications/notification center, Cortana, etc. - has to exist on the desktop in some compatible form because the integration with those elements are part of the app.
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