Phablets could be the future for Windows RT

Some might argue that Windows RT has been an unmitigated disaster. At the very least, it’s been a flop. Microsoft still thinks the ARM-based OS has a future, though. At a financial analyst meeting yesterday, the company hinted that Windows RT’s future could involve convergence with Windows Phone. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley has posted the related snippet, which unfortunately stops short of revealing any specific plans. In response to a question about the future of Windows RT, Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft’s OS division, said "Windows RT was our first ARM tablet. And as phones extend into tablets, expect us to see many more ARM tablets, Windows ARM tablets in the future."

I believe the word Myerson was looking for is phablet. But that only became a word in August, along with selfie and twerking, so we’ll forgive him for not being familiar with the hip new lingo of Millenials.

Windows Phone 8 already provides a smartphone-optimized OS for ARM-based handsets. As Foley points out, it’s based on the same NT core as Windows RT. Merging the two shouldn’t be as difficult as, say, porting Windows to a completely different instruction set. Microsoft has been there, done that, and convergence seems to be on its mind now. Myerson also dropped this choice nugget:

(W)e really should have one silicon interface for all of our devices. We should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices.

The biggest problem with Windows RT tablets is that they don’t run x86 applications. That limitation should be less of an issue for smartphones, whose comparatively smaller screens aren’t really appropriate for desktop-style apps. Windows Phone 8 hasn’t exactly been a commercial success, though. I’m curious to see what happens if Microsoft merges it with another OS that no one seems to want.

Comments closed
    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    [u<][b<]Microsoft Mobile Market Manipulation Masterplan:[/b<][/u<] 1. Release RT OS with Windows branding that can't run Windows software and looks like a phone OS. 2. Snub Windows Phone users and App developers by ensuring RT apps aren't compatible with Windows Phone. 3. Ignore consumer and developer feedback until all major manufacturing partners abandon RT OS 4. Dump RT OS mess all over loyal Windows Phone customers and developers. Good job, Microsoft.

    • GTVic
    • 8 years ago

    It is DESIGNED to not run x86 applications. You can’t call that the “biggest problem”.

    Microsoft and every computer professional in the world would like to at some point disconnect from the requirement to have to run/support old x86 applications. You can only achieve that if you offer an incentive to develop non-x86-specific applications and I believe that is one of the reasons why RT exists.

    If you want to run x86 applications then get a Surface Pro.

      • ET3D
      • 8 years ago

      It’s reasonable to assume that what Geoff meant is that not having an x86 architecture limits the amount of software available for RT, and that’s the problem. I agree that x86 by itself isn’t an issue, but I’m sure that’s not what he was trying to say.

      • JumpingJack
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<]It is DESIGNED to not run x86 applications. You can't call that the "biggest problem". [/quote<] This made me laugh a little bit.... it was designed to run on ARM, in principle it will not run x86 applications. In case you are unaware, ARM and x86 are two completely different ISAs. For the technically challenged, that is Instruction Set Architecture. Running x86 on ARM would be like a me trying to assembly a Boeing 747 using instructions written in Swahili. It simply cannot be done. EDIT: And it is it's biggest problem.... lay men, who don't know better, will look at the product and see Windows (metro and desktop) and think it will run Windows software. And when they log onto a website to download their favorite porn surfing ripper and find out that it won't even install, well, it pisses them off.

    • albundy
    • 8 years ago

    ummm…No. the future is in its app dev community that bolsters its consumer base.

      • bjm
      • 8 years ago

      …and how else can you better help those developers bolster the consumer base than to give them a unified API they can write against for phone, tablet, phablet, laptop, and (hopefully) desktop? They aren’t quite there yet, but that’s ultimately the end goal here. Microsoft isn’t quite there yet, and though there are some hopeful signs, there’s no guarantee they’ll ever get there.

        • demani
        • 8 years ago

        Really, just the tacit admission that these are two separate targets, even if the core bits are the same, would be the key element. Just focus on making Windows 8 desktop a separate, robust and extremely solid desktop OS. And let Windows Mobile 8 shine on the ARM devices-it really was obviously made that way. Have applications that could ship in a twin format: use the touch interface on WinMo, and the regular cursor/keyboard interface on a desktop/laptop. And admit that the Yoga type device, while cool, isn’t a major market device, and just cut the cruft. Or better yet, let the bi-apps (the ones that run both ways) be able to shutdown and run under the new OS when activated (i.e. when the keyboard is hidden). Or when undocking the screen, let the screen run the WinMo, and let it access the same data store that the WinDesk was using, so its a shared data space with the same user settings in the same directory.

        Or just stop with that convertible market- while cool, it just doesn’t seem like all that great a plan.

    • Beomagi
    • 8 years ago

    Is Windows RT and Windows phone 8 the same as far as app compatibility goes?

    i.e. If I backup an app for one, will it work on the other? Same market place?

      • StashTheVampede
      • 8 years ago

      Windows RT and Windows Phone 8 are completely different. With both, you go to the “same” marketplace in name only. Microsoft has basically made three different OSes, with one attempt to get everyone funneled via the same mechanism. Both Google and Apple only two support two and Microsoft is trying to support three! Insane!

      The sooner RT and WP code bases merge, the better.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 8 years ago

        You forgot the fourth OS/app market for the Windows 8 model:

        Xbone.

        Coincidentally, if you’ll recall, Microsoft made a lot of noise back in May about how they were running three OS’s for Xbone: apps, games, and an OS in between the other two.

        So instead of MS taking the opportunity to make an app store that worked across all their platforms (Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone, and Xbone) with a “Buy one, get all,” mentality with apps that could work like they do now or like ModernMix allows them (with min/max/restore functionality in Windows), they went hogwild with restrictions and then made it so a developer has to release each one separately and distinctly.

        Meaning all these versions of Windows OS’s don’t even get along. Why? Because Steve Ballmer was a horrible CEO that had no vision and could not WRANGLE his internal teams to work together as one unit moving toward one goal. They each were making Metro their own way with their own apps and systems for apps with their own stores.

        Failing apart since they won’t come together. It’s amazing how far Apple and Google have come because of Microsoft’s gross incompetence because all things being equal, this should have been Microsoft’s market to lose.

        And that’s just what they’ve done.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    “IT APPEARS WINDOWS RT HAS MORE IN COMMON WITH WINDOWS PHONE THAT WINDOWS… THE FUTURE WE’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR JUST PRESENTED ITSELF!” – Microsoft

    Meanwhile the rest of us including google and apple had already realized this, about 3 years ago. What will they think of next. I mean honestly what are they really thinking??? Do they not look at there competitors and see their successes come from joint mobile platforms between phone and tablet. Meanwhile the phone, RT and desktop development standards are all totally different.

    • bjm
    • 8 years ago

    As I understand it, this has always been the plan. You can see it foreshadowed in the current generation vs the preceding one: Windows 7/Phone 7 were worlds apart. Then with the Windows 8/Phone 8, Microsoft added the phones UI to Windows, and the NT kernel to the phone. The next logical step will be to have one API to rule them all. And while retaining backwards compatibility (of course), the new features and direction of all the platforms will be within the WinRT API. This is, after all, why Terry Myerson is heading the division. And I think it’s a good thing.

    For it to be really successful though, I think they need to improve WinRT integration with the desktop. Something along the lines of MetroMix and allowing WinRT apps to be windowed, but obviously with first-party support and having third-parties recognize it as a legitimate use case. Without official desktop support from the WinRT API, the leverage they have with x86 software and its large userbase mean nothing. Windows 8.1 went a long way towards better integration of the Start Screen, but now it needs to go further and bring WinRT into the windowed desktop.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    Windows Rat on a Phablet.

    Stupid names are why things don’t sell, folks.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      No, stupid products are why things don’t sell. Stupid names just make it easier to make fun of said products.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 8 years ago

    How to make customers happy and simplify your product line up.

    Merge Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 into one OS and call it “Windows 8 mobile”.

    Remove Metro from Windows 8 desktop

    Hire me for a management position.

      • yuhong
      • 8 years ago

      I am more for just putting the start menu back.

      • Chrispy_
      • 8 years ago

      It really [b<]*is*[/b<] that simple, if Microsoft's goal was to make a better product. Microsoft's goals are the complete opposite though, they want to make a better walled-garden where they monopolise the publishing fee for all content. Metro is how they crowbar the Micro$oft $tore into Windows 8. (yeah, I [i<]really did[/i<] just replace some letters there for a dollar-sign, and although I feel dirty, I'm nowhere near as disgusting as Microsoft for doing what they've done)

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 8 years ago

    Too bad there’s no such thing as Windows Phone 8! None of this would have been necessary.

    *M-M-M-M-MONSTER face palm*

      • Helmore
      • 8 years ago

      I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about….

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 8 years ago

        MS has Windows Phone 8, Windows RT, and Windows 8. Apple has iOS and OSX. One of these arrangements works and the other does not.

        • ludi
        • 8 years ago

        WinPhone7 was late to market, but reasonably well-executed when it finally arrived, and app devleopers started looking at it as a serious platform. Microsoft was close to having a critical mass of WP7 developers who then wanted to expand into tablet devices, and instead, they burned them by confining WP8 to handset devices and developing WinRT, which is incompatible with both Win8 SurfacePro/Desktop and Windows Phone.

        It was a ridiculously stupid move, and probably the root cause for why Ballmer finally got pink-slipped.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    Just keep splitting hairs and you’ll eventually get there.

    A smartphone could already be considered a tablet, a tablet can likewise be used as a smart phone. A laptop can have tablet functionality as well as phone functionality…

    Just wait till the tablet turns all the way back into the pumpkin.

    • superjawes
    • 8 years ago

    “Phablet” is a term as dumb as “iPad,” but without the Jobian appeal…

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 8 years ago

      Make it rainbow colored. I’m sure a certain demographic might be interested.

      • just brew it!
      • 8 years ago

      I would argue that it is a lot worse, because it conjures up mental images of shallow, brainless, giggly high school girls gossiping with their phriends. With their phablets. On Phacebook.

        • Chrispy_
        • 8 years ago

        or “phat” tunes, used in marketing slogans throughout the 90’s/00’s like some twisted evolution of Bill and Ted’s [i<]bodacious, excellent [/i<]vocabulary....

    • rwburnham
    • 8 years ago

    I’ve thought for awhile that the Windows Phone OS would have been pretty good on a tablet, much the way Android’s OS has migrated from phones to tablets.

      • Concupiscence
      • 8 years ago

      I agree. It seemed like moon logic to create Windows RT as a platform separate from Windows Phone – converging the two just makes sense. And in using my Windows Phone (Lumia 820 with 64 gig SDXC card) it seems like a day doesn’t go by where I briefly think, “Wow, this would look REALLY nice on a tablet.”

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