Microsoft to merge Windows platforms into one unified OS

23 Jul 2014

Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 running Windows 8.1

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has confirmed the company will merge all of its major versions of Windows into a single operating system that will be compatible across all devices.

This move had already been hinted at in April during the company’s Build developers conference in San Francisco, California, where it announced tools for universal Windows apps. This is good news for developers who will be able to use these tools to create apps compatible with Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox in one go.

Nadella confirmed Microsoft’s plans to consolidate its operating system and enable the creation of truly universal Windows apps during the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call.

“We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes,” he said.

Creating one OS to rule them all (all screen sizes and devices, that is) also means the individual teams who worked on three separate platforms will now become one team working on a unified Windows platform – a streamlining move which falls in line with Microsoft’s recent decision to cut 14pc of its workforce.

Microsoft will still sell different flavours of its OS, such as Pro and Enterprise editions, but they will be essentially the same bar some differentiating front-end features.

The universal Windows OS is expected to arrive along with Windows 9, the next version of the Microsoft operating system, due in spring 2015.

Alleged leaked images of the new OS at an early development stage have appeared online, heralding a full-on return of the Start menu. The revamped user interface in these images demonstrate a mix of the old (Windows 7) and new (Windows 8), with Metro-style apps running in windows instead of full-screen, and a Start menu that mixes Live Tiles with a more traditional list format.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.