In a move that’s sure to shake up some in the tech industry, Microsoft has announced that starting with Windows 9 it will be shipping one version of its operating system no matter what platform you use it on. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced this during an earnings call, which can be heard in the video below. This is a significant change for Microsoft, who currently operates 3 separate, non-interchangeable versions of Windows 8: Windows 8 for the x86 architecture, Windows RT for the ARM architecture, and Windows Phone 8 for phones (also ARM-powered). Right now there’s no way to run any other version of Windows on another platform that’s not specifically designed to run that version, but Microsoft is going to change that with Windows 9.
We’re also looking at a new set of development tools for the new Windows, one in which developers will now be able to develop apps for all platforms no matter what size or hardware they use. This marks a huge change for the industry as well, one in which isn’t something that’s commonly done because of the massive differences in operating architecture between traditional x86 desktop and laptop systems and mobile ARM systems. If Microsoft can pull this off well it could be a huge shakeup in the industry as a whole, especially if they can nail an interface that feels natural running on each platform; something they completely failed with Windows 8 on all platforms.
Right now Google sort of does this with its Chrome platform, and the same can be said for Android in a way too. Chrome OS can run on multiple platforms, as seen on some of Samsung’s Chromebooks that run Exynos processors, and others that run Intel processors, but Chrome OS isn’t nearly as feature-rich or app-driven as Android or Windows are. There are also some ports of Android for x86 platforms, but they are unable to run practically any apps that are on the regular ARM version of Android. If Microsoft is successful, much as Apple has been in pushing 64-bit to the mobile world, we could see a version of Android in the future that runs on multiple platforms with little to no compatibility problems. While this sounds like a dream, here’s hoping that Microsoft cracked the code and we aren’t just dreaming up stuff here.