Something I don’t understand about Microsoft is its obsession about new kernels. While I can see how a foundation of a building is important, changing it all the time damages the OS more so than fixing it. Imagine a hotel that does not understand why guests aren’t coming, and their solution is to rebuild the foundation of the building? That wouldn’t fix anything. The problem is in the sales, in the mismatched furnishings, and the vibe.
Mixing WinRT apps and WP8 apps on one platform will only result in one thing: A user experience disaster, found especially on Android tablets, which attempted similar integration. Most Android developers don’t bother with tablet views, and odd form factors like Galaxy Note can ‘claim’ to have many apps but all with suboptimal experience.
iOS knows a little better, but that isn’t an optimal experience either - not all iPhone apps get ported to iPad UX specs, and users can only use the apps in stretched form. Same thing will happen to WP9/Win9 if integration were to happen. Sure, now with more shared code, the programmers can code a little less - until they have to deal with the UI.
What’s likely to happen to the resulting Windows Store is:
- Stretched up, carelessly designed suboptimal experience for either the W9 or WP9 app, which results in further inconsistency. (XAML development in Windows 8 has been way sub-par to WP8, as of now.)
- Geeks can fulfill their wet dream of RDP on a phone - I have no idea what they can use to control Word on a 4 inch capacitive screen - while general public wouldn’t care less.
- Lots of incompatibilities yet again due to yet another kernel change.
- Games will benefit the most, as they do not require as much UX optimization. Fixing kernels to fix sales of an OS is a very engineering point of view, in my opinion.
The stronger reasons of why, say, Tomb Raider or Amazon Cloud Music or Microsoft Word, cannot be simultaneously released on Xbox, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are:
- UI and interaction methods of the apps need to be optimized and tested for each type of screen - large or medium or small, touch or keyboard/mouse or Kinect or game controller.
- Commercial priorities - some platforms just do not have as much users to put so much effort and resources to develop for, no matter how easy to port the code.
- For small developers, each type of screen requires purchases of more devices. To release only for Windows Phone, the dev only needs 1 phone, due to its restriction of form factors. Shall form factors be more varied like Android, smaller devs are barred from releasing optimized apps for all the form factors.
So what do people actually want?
What I see most people actually want from the merging of Windows Phone and Windows team efforts is:
- Seriously, the WP UX team is way better. Just compare the Music app on the Phone versus the clustermess and clutter of the one on Win8. Or the implementation of live tiles.
- There are concepts in Win8 that are very useful and should be ported to WP8, i.e. Share charm, file picker contracts, and the whole app contract concept in general.
- Easier porting of games between platforms. The Win8 games library is lackluster right now. The fact that Win8 doesn’t have XNA while Xbox and WP8 depends on it is very strange - and the solution now is to merge kernels, what?
- Run the relatively larger and better designed WP8 app library on Windows 8 - but you can’t, since all the apps aren’t optimized for landscape view of larger screens. All the apps need to be redesigned to be port over.
In short, for Microsoft to win, at this moment, is to push sales and marketing, and in long run, is to streamline the user experience. Every time MS changes the kernel, it breaks more than fixes the issue, and it’s costly for both the corporation and the developers to fix the mess afterwards.
Let’s see if they would wise up. And I’m pretty sure they are. What I’m reacting to is probably just some fanboys’ dream.