Originally developed for lightweight on-the-go tasks, mobile devices have ridden a fast-breaking wave of innovation to achieve near parity with PCs. Microsoft aims to capitalize on the blurring line between these previously disparate devices, but will they be the first to introduce a universal operating system?
Rumors are circulating that Microsoft is looking to reorganize their divisions to better focus on a unified Windows operating system, and it could happen as early as this week. According to a recent article in The Verge, the restructuring could see a merger of the Windows 8 and Windows Phone divisions, resulting in one giant OS. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer is said to have planned the large scale shake-up without consulting some key company execs, which could foreshadow their departure.
We’ve already seen the writing on the wall as products like Windows Phone and the new Surface tablets have steadily been aligning with the Windows desktop operating system. This alignment began visually with the metro interface on Windows Phone 7 and internally with the x86/64 compatibility of the Surface Pro tablet. These developments have clearly indicated the company’s intent to deliver a solitary experience across hardware platforms.
Microsoft certainly isn’t alone in the hunt for platform solidarity. Apple and Android represent the lion’s share of mobile devices currently in use, and both stand to widen their reach by developing a universal operating system. In Google’s case, their Chrome desktop OS could finally find a sustainable market if they can turn Android devices into a seamless extensions of their customers’ PCs. Apple looks to similarly increase desktop and mobile market share by bringing iOS and OS X closer together, as seen in Maverick’s new notification system.
The three titans of technology have a lot to gain from fully integrated operating systems, but no matter which company crosses the finish line first, consumers will emerge as the true victors of this high-tech consolidation competition. Sure, Windows may steal a little business from their competitors by being first-to-market, but with Google and Apple right on their tail, loyal Android and iOS users will be willing to wait. After all, an integrated operating system only matters if you own multiple devices that run on the same platform. And in that matter, Windows is currently a distant third.