For past many months, rumors have been circulating that Microsoft was poised to make its "Windows Everywhere" world a reality. But that reality is still a ways off, in spite of comments by Microsoft execs this week at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference about a unified ecosystem across phones, PCs and TVs.
Per quote from Microsoft Windows Phone President Andy Lees' keynote:
One of the key important things here, though, is the change that's yet to happen, but it's about to happen, and that is the bringing together of these devices into a unified ecosystem, because at the core of the device itself it's possible to be common across phones, PCs, and TVs, and even other things, because the price drops dramatically. Then it will be a single ecosystem. We won't have an ecosystem for PCs, and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They'll all come together. And just look at the opportunity here.
The biggest question mark in this "one big Windows world" scenario is on the apps front. Even if Microsoft can't/won't have the same Windows operating system on phones, PCs and TVs, does that mean the same apps can't run across all of these devices? In other words, would the Angry Birds game on Windows Phone automatically work on a Windows 8 tablet and on your Xbox? The "write once, run anywhere" goal -- is it possible when the underlying operating systems are different -- even though their user interfaces look very much alike?
Some developers think the differences between the platforms are relatively trivial, since Windows Embedded Compact is a subset of Windows. At one point, Microsoft was talking about plans to make its Silverlight browser plug-in available everywhere -- on phones, PCs, set-top boxes and Xbox. (The Silverlight on Mediaroom and Silverlight on set-top plans -- codenamed Taos and Santa Fe --may or may not still be alive). But in recent months, that talk has waned.
In the end, do you care whether Microsoft actually makes all of its platforms run the same Windows core? Or does an HTML5 browser running on all platforms go far enough in terms of enabling Microsoft to create its promised unified ecosystem?