New cross-platform OS project is unprecedented, arguably largest software project in history
A new report in The Seattle Times interviews some of Microsoft Corp.’s MSFT top executives who describe the company’s inspired new design direction.
With Windows 9, Microsoft is plotting quite literally the largest software project in history; combining operating systems from at least five platforms, cloud services, and dozens of software projects into one tightly integrated cross-platform bundle of software.
It’s an incredible vision. And it’s one that could change the entire industry. I.
The Path to Unification A major part of why Windows 8 had so many rough edges was because it was an exercise in porting. But much as Windows Vista was — in some ways — a necessary stepping-stone to the more polished and beloved Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1 was necessary as a stepping-stone on the path towards unification.
There was always a fair amount of code exchange between the mobile and PC OS trees of Windows. But in the era of Windows Mobile 2000-2010 that process was more infrequent and sporadic, with development of the two branches largely independent. With the launch of Windows Phone in 2010, Microsoft found its design direction — the Modern Metro UI.
With Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft looked to have greater code sharing between its various products. But internally the situation had not substantially improved. While Microsoft had a unified design and a number of share core features across its platforms, it now had four separate code trees — Xbox, Windows RT, Windows, and Windows Phone. Each platform’s OS group had a separate design and software team. When a change was made to core APIs or Modern UI in one of these platforms, it was a time consuming process to port them to the others.
The first change came late last year with a leadership shakeup that unified Microsoft’s OS design teams under a single common banner. With Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 and the Xbox One, Microsoft began the Herculean task of unifying pieces of its API. But much work remained.