Windows Phone 8.1 brings tons of new features including Live Folders, Action center, Cortana, and many more. One detail that might have been overlooked in this release is the fact that with Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft is allowing phone makers to install the operating system on headsets of up to 7-inch.
But more importantly the mobile operating system can now be installed in devices other than phones. This new change is logged in the Microsoft documentation for Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 under “Building and flashing images”. Before Windows Phone 8.1, it was impossible to install the operating system in devices without phone capabilities, such as tablets.
Now with the new change, it would be very interesting to see who will be among the first taking advantage and pre-install Windows Phone on mini-tablets. (Perhaps Microsoft?)
Basically all this could mean the end of Windows RT and Windows Phone being the replacement. The news aligns with previous rumors that indicated Microsoft merging Windows Phone with Windows RT in Threshold, which is due in spring 2015. However in this case the combination ratio seems to be more Windows Phone than Windows RT.
This is a good news, Windows Phone had proven to be an amazing software and Microsoft is even gearing up to release a new version of Office for its mobile operating system as part of the Gimini update, which is the touch first version of Office for Windows. The company is expected to release Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, and PowerPoint for phones, but it is likely that we won’t be seeing a new version of Office until the release of Windows 9.
The new Office will work on any ARM and x86 devices, including phones because of the way Microsoft is working on universal apps. Technically with universal apps it means that the company can take the core of Office and build a new version of the suite for phones too.
Is this the end of the line for Windows RT? Let’s look at the facts: people have already spoken about how they feel about the operating system. How many companies are designing devices that include Windows RT, other than Microsoft? None. The name scheme didn’t catch on either and sometimes even savvy users get confuse because of WinRT, which is a software layer on top of which modern apps are built.
Microsoft didn’t execute this ARM operating system right either, because many people thought that having a desktop meant that they could install traditional apps and in Windows RT this is impossible.
If the company removed the access to the desktop, this would have signaled customers differently, and now the way Microsoft can revert the Windows RT fiasco is with Windows Phone, which is already known for not having a desktop experience.
Now Microsoft has the chance to reduce its operating system to two for devices, Windows and Windows Phone, which can run on both phones and tablets. This could be home run if executed right, as the company can keep running Windows of PCs and tablet larger than 7-inch and devices smaller than 7-inch and phones can run Windows Phone.
The question now is, with Windows Threshold (or Windows 9), what’s going to happen with current Windows RT users? Because we all can assume there will be a path to upgrade. However now we’ll have a different operating system, as such it’s unclear how the upgrade will work. Probably there will be a way, I just hope Microsoft thought this through.
Windows Threshold is not just about new features, it is more than that; here is when we’ll see all the screens coming closer together to Microsoft’s “one Windows” vision, as such we can expect a lot of changes.