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Microsoft considering unification of Windows and Windows Phone divisions in upcoming shuffle

microsoft-surface-tablet-steve-ballmer
According to sources at AllThingsD, Microsoft is poised to make major changes to its executive team, cutting the fat from the top and reorganizing the company into four distinct parts — operating systems, applications & services, hardware, and enterprise — overseen by Steve Ballmer.

The company is holding its annual Build developer conference later this week, which coincides with a public launch of Windows 8.1, the first major update for the new operating system which was released in late October.

One virulent rumour to emerge from this department shuffle is the unification of Windows and Windows Phone into a single division, something that was seen as inevitable given the former’s dominance and the latter’s sustained obscurity. Windows Phone 8 brought a unified kernel, which made it easier to develop apps and games for both platforms at once, but the operating systems maintain separate app stores and update processes. Windows Phone also suffers from the fact that it entered a market entrenched by two dominant players, and has struggled, despite a warm reception, to gain market share, especially in North America.

Microsoft is likely going to issue updates to its Surface RT and Pro tablets later this year, informed by the improvements made to Windows 8.1. Rumours persist of a smaller, cheaper Surface, likely in the 7- to 8-inch form factor, to better compete with the iPad mini. The Redmond-based company has recently been discounting its RT tablet, which runs an ARM-based Tegra 3 chip and is limited to apps distributed through the Windows Store, to spur lukewarm sales.

Microsoft is expected to issue a minor update Windows Phone 8 this summer with a more extensive “GDR3″ overhaul coming later this year, which would bring 1080p display and quad-core chip support. Nokia will likely announce its Lumia 41MP EOS smartphone next month with the GDR2 update on board.

Source: AllThingsD

  • Trevor

    Yes please. A unified vision for Windows across phone, tablet, and desktop can’t be anything but good. Improved portability in the app store, charms on the phone, etc etc. If they’re going to present a unified front, they need to unify the teams.

    There isn’t one Microsoft tribe. There are a bunch, with disparate if not competing goals. And that needs to stop if their unified vision is going to succeed.

    • silver_arrow

      Agreed it would just be Windows and it would work across everything that they do. It would greatly help the phone side of things as well as make the computers more attractive as everything is unified.

  • Tavis Dunn

    It needs to happen, as a user of both windows phone and surface, i like the similarities, but it’s clear they are designed by completely different teams. Need to standardize.

  • bouldersrh

    No, no no no no. Desktop OS are different from phone OS for a reason. It’s also the reason I don’t use Windows 8 – I use a laptop, not a touchscreen. The competition between divisions mentionned in other comments are what makes a company strong. If they do not compete, then they will not innovate.

    • wolfcda

      I run Windows 8 on my desktop PC at home, and love it despite not having a touch-screen or track-pad. It works great… there’s a couple minor things to get used to, but performance is so much better than any version of Windows I’ve used before. Hoping that Win 8.1 will improve things even more.

      Unifying groups would be a beneficial thing, as long as there’s some basic rules about what “works” on a phone. (ie. “Metro”-style apps only, if they have a layout designed for that screen). Then it’d be even easier for developers to write code that will run on tablets, desktops/laptops, and phones.

    • Darth Paton

      Wouldn’t it make more sense for Microsoft to compete with other companies instead of itself?

    • rysliv

      No one is forcing you to use the new ui, that is why the desktop still exists.

  • Alex Ohannes

    Calm down, people. Windows is still going to be good ol’ crappy Windows, and Windows Phone is still going to be good ol’ crappy Windows Phone. What Microsoft means by “unification of Windows and Windows phone devisions” is simply that the same devision that develops Windows will now be developing Windows Phone (and vice versa). This may lead to similarities between mobile and desktop environments, but if they have learned their lesson with the whole Metro Mess, then there won’t be any.

    • EvanKrosney

      There won’t be any metro, eh? So you’re saying we’ll be getting Aero on WP? Why don’t I believe you?

    • Alex Ohannes

      What do you mean? All I’m saying is that I hope Windows phone stays mobile (and makes some much needed improvements) and that Windows moves AWAY from the Mobile look. The whole purpose of Metro was to make Windows easy to use on tablets. If you want a tablet version of Windows, buy RT. If you want a desktop version of Windows, you should be able to buy a copy of Windows, install it, and use it with a mouse (no touch nonsense) and a keyboard. Personally, I think they should have the current version of Windows 8, Metro and all, be a replacement for RT. RT has no value and no point. As Windows 8 is good for tablets, and has good application support, it might be good to migrate that over to be exclusive to tablets. Then, they could release a version optimized for desktops (and only desktops).

    • Darth Paton

      The problem with your plan is that Microsoft is now running 3 similar but different operating systems, which is just fragmenting a brand. This is turn means that each variation needs separate support and separate app development (or lack there of). Nice try, but breaking Windows into several independent divisions is not the answer here.

    • Alex Ohannes

      I agree. Unfortunately, it ALREADY IS in separate divisions. That’s what I wish Microsoft would change.

    • Darth Paton

      No, you do not agree, you just finished saying that Microsoft should further separate the divisions into phone, tablet, and desktop! I am saying that Windows and Windows Phone should be unified.

    • Alex Ohannes

      How would that work? Either the mobile hardware would have to be more high end, making things expensive and not practical, or the OS itself would have to be dumbed town significantly. One of the reasons that Android is so popular is because it can run on 100 MB of RAM and a 300 MHZ CPU. I don’t think Windows can.

    • rysliv

      It can, but it would take an enormous amount of time to boot, as long as your hard disk is bigger than 16 gigs.

    • rysliv

      I really hope they don’t bring transparent anything or backgrounds to windows phone, it would make it look awful.

    • rysliv

      “crappy windows phone” it is not crappy, and your idiotic opinion does not need to be heard.

  • Tom

    They definitely need to unify Windows RT and Windows Phone. RT-based tablets are not selling well – the lack of apps is expected for a new entrant, but it’s made worse by the lack of unification with Windows Phone, a problem the Blackberry Playbook also had. With both RT and the Playbook, you couldn’t buy an app meant for the smartphone OS, and expect to have access to it on the tablet OS.

  • Zed

    Unification is a dangerous game if not done properly. On one hand, you can lower the quality of the PC OS to accommodate to the phone (some would claim that already happen with the release of Window 8) and on the other hand, you can promise a little too much (albeit unintentionally) to your smartphone buyers and end up not delivering.

  • rysliv

    Just don’t screw up windows phone while it is already great.

    • Rohit Chauhan

      Used to think so too, but after using Windows Phone 8 for two months, I’m not too satisfied. It’s still nascent and Microsoft is too slow in developing or upgrading the OS & major apps. Too many restrictions to even dream of winning over Android. They need to speed up.

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