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.