Microsoft isn’t officially talking on the subject, but it is quite possible that the company will merge Windows RT with the Windows Phone operating system in a near future. Unnamed Microsoft source has revealed to Paul Thurrott that the Windows Phone 8.1 update, also known as “Blue”, will grow from 33 to 77 percent the “API unity” with Windows RT. This means that programmers will be able to create apps that run on Windows RT and Windows Phone, eliminating countless hours of work to port an app to a different platform.
What’s even more interesting is that the Blue update for Windows Phone will add support of up to 10-inch screens. The upcoming update for Windows Phone 8, known as General Distribution Release 3 (or GDR3 for short), includes support for 5- and 6-inch screens. Windows Phone Blue will push this limit to 7- to 10-inch touchscreens, overlapping Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 territory, so it isn’t clear what’s really going to happen.
It could mean that the software giant may be thinking on abandoning Windows RT, as is the only company using the restrictive OS, Dell was the other company installing it on tablets, but recently switched to Windows 8.1 for mobile using the latest Intel Bay Trail processor.
Furthermore, if the information from Thurrott’s source is true and Microsoft decides to go through merging of both operating systems. It could also mean that we may be getting closer to see the end of the desktop environment in Windows tablets based on ARM processors. This could just be the right move for the future of the operating system. Much like Apple, we’ll have to deal with only two operating systems, instead of three, and it will be less confusing for users, who now expect to install any application if they see the familiar desktop.
It may not happen right away, but there has been a lot of chatting about the merge and the company bringing closer together the programming code and new screen resolutions may be just be the first step toward this idea.
Also keep in mind that Microsoft has previously noted its intention to unify the Windows Store with the Windows Phone Store in 2014, and this now makes more sense with the company moving to a common programming language for phones and RT applications.
Of course that changes will not happen overnight, if the company ever makes the merge. However I still wondering how everything is going to work out at the end of the day; whether Surface mini will ship with the unified OS and if Surface 2 users will be able to upgrade.
Like with every rumor, it could always change and it can turn out to be false, so take all this information with a grain of salt.
Among other things Paul’s unnamed source also mentioned that Microsoft is working on removing the Windows Phone physical back button from the requirements in the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update, because according to the company “the Back button doesn’t make sense” and users always tap on the Start button to do other tasks and open new apps. Also the GRD3 update will fix some issues like allowing users manually close apps and in the Blue update users may finally get a new notification center and better background processes.