Yes, I would like Windows Everywhere too on my phone, PC, and TV. Developers too. So will Microsoft. Although, I have my share of doubts. I think there are three tenants of the integrated vision: Brand, Technology, and Ecosystem. Let’s explore these in detail.
Make a cut on any of the old guard folks at Redmond HQ, and he will bleed Windows. (Please do not try this literally. Culpable homicide is an offence.) I’m sure Nilay Patel at This is my next knows what he’s saying when he talks about the end of Windows brand. Even if it is on the table, I’m not very sure this would happen. Microsoft may pursue two brands Windows for the operating system and Xbox for services. The recent indication of Zune service to be rebranded Xbox Music suggests the same. Although as of now, no definite name has been announced for Windows 8, but a strong push for the Windows Phone branding would mean that Microsoft would not dump Windows’ easily. Along with Apple, Coca Cola, and the like, it is one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
This is primary reason that most believe in the vision of Windows Everywhere. Microsoft has demoed and announced that Windows 8 would run on system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures. This isn’t possible yet, and hence Windows Embedded was the platform for devices like PoS and set-top boxes, and formed the core for Windows Phone. Xbox 360 is a different deal altogether. In technical theory, all devices can then run Windows with a layer of customization on the top. Let’s see if that happens, and if the long-standing investment in Windows Embedded space and the legacy systems in place are pushed aside.
However, there is a technically fallacy to this vision as well. Even if the platform across devices would be same, application development can’t be unified. Code once, run everywhere does not work in practice. Each device has its strengths and weaknesses. An app which consumes too much data is okay on my work PC connected to DSL, but would not work for my phone with a metered data plan. Network traffic, screen estate, battery constraints, and other factors define app preference on diverse devices apart from the usage scenarios. Consider this: the iTunes app store serves both iPad and iPhone, but several publishers offer different editions of their apps for the two. Ask a Silverlight developer if developing for Windows Phone 7 devices and a Web experience is similar. Even with the HTML5 enthusiasm around, a Web service would prefer to develop a mobile Web site separately.
While Windows 8 is expected to have an application marketplace, it may well be integrated with the Windows Phone Marketplace and the Xbox Live Marketplace. A unified application marketplace makes all sense for ISVs and consumers.
For hardware manufacturers and OEM partners, an integrated platform streamlines innovation. Working on a single platform for phones, tablet computers, and PCs, makes it easy in research and product development.