Microsoft Corp. hopes that its key consumer platforms - Windows for PCs, Windows Phone and Xbox - will eventually form a single eco-system. At the same time, Microsoft clearly excludes possibility to unify operating systems (OSs) or install Windows Phone onto tablets.
"Then it will be a single ecosystem. We will not have an ecosystem for PCs, and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They will all come together. And just look at the opportunity here,” said Andrew Lees, president of Windows Phone division at Microsoft.
This is not the first time when Microsoft unveils intentions to unify its eco-systems across different types of devices. Recently the company said that it would make Xbox Live features available on personal computers and it is clear that Skype will also spread to numerous platforms and devices. Unified eco-system that spreads from phones to desktops to consoles and possibly other devices will allow Microsoft to offer new kinds of services and businesses.
But Microsoft does not see any value in unifying operating systems for different devices. Each kind of computing devices has its own peculiarities, form-factors and should provide the right features and capabilities. Of course, certain elements of different OSs will inevitably overlap, but devices for communications should not focus on productivity, whereas PCs for office should not focus on gaming.
“Our strategy is that these new form factors are within a single ecosystem and not new ecosystems themselves. Windows has always spanned different PC form factors. And with Windows 8 we're going to take this to a whole new level including tablets. Now, a lot of people have asked me, are we going to produce a phone that is a tablet? Well, that is in conflict with this strategy. We view a tablet as a sort of PC. We want people to be able to do the sorts of things that they expect on a PC on a tablet, things like networking to be able to connect to networks, and utilize networking tools, to get USB drives and plot them into the tablet. To be able to do things like printing, all of the things using Office, using all of the things you would expect from a PC and provide a hybrid about how you can do that with the tablet, as well,” said Mr. Lees.
At present, Microsoft’s intentions to provide coherence and consistency across different types of devices are only intentions. Microsoft Windows 8 is a year away and it will compete against devices from Apple, Google and others that are also due in 2012; Windows Phone “Mango” is due in several months time and its success is not cast on stone to say at least; Xbox Live is only truly popular in the U.S. It remains to be seen how competitive will Microsoft be with its mega-eco-system a year away, at the end, its rivals are not standing still too.