Does Microsoft's unified Windows strategy make sense?

Microsoft's unified Windows strategy, uniting devices across similar-feeling OSes, could be exactly what the company needs to KO mobile competitors.

By offering a unified Windows interface across desktops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones, Microsoft will finally become a major player in the mobile market.

I have never said anything nice about Microsoft. Adjectives that come to mind include "buggy," "expensive," "unreliable" and "slow." I've used many Microsoft products and essentially all of the operating systems since DOS 1.0, almost always with the same degree of glee (which is to say, none at all). Microsoft's release-after-release, way-too-many-versions brand of complexity has always been a thorn in my side.

But all of that is about to change: Microsoft's unified Windows strategy is absolutely brilliant and will be emulated by every company that intends to compete in the mobile and desktop OS market (including Apple).

The unified Windows difference

The value of Microsoft's unified OS strategy doesn't have to do with the tiled interface, Start screen, apps or the Windows Store. Those are just features that compete with what consumers are used to already. It's not about compatibility with Windows 7, and it's not about the cloud.

The beauty of Microsoft's unified operating system strategy is that is offers a single experience across multiple hardware platforms and types of devices. Microsoft made a mistake in letting Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone and all of the other failed mobile operating systems diverge so significantly from its core Windows vision. A common look and feel can lower the costs of staff training and support, which is absolutely vital as mobile devices proliferate in the enterprise.

Equally as important, it will be much easier for developers to produce apps that run on notebook, tablet and handset platforms. Windows RT runs on the ARM architecture, not x86, which adds potential complications. But Microsoft is still closer than ever to unity at the upper layers of the OS, especially the user interface.

Winning the mobile OS wars won't be easy for Microsoft. The company is quite far behind, and the bring-your-own-device trend works against the benefits Microsoft stands to gain: The unified Windows approach will appeal to IT admins, but not trendy, fashion-conscious end-user consumers.

The big question is whether Microsoft can really execute or not. There is a big difference between a strategy's promise and how that promise is realized. The new Windows products are now available, and we'll begin to see just what the unified operating system approach can do for end users and IT pros. I believe this bold strategy will work so well that Apple and Google will take similar approaches with their operating system strategies.

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Do you think the unified OS is the way of the future?
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Yes, I think all software companies are looking for ways to optimize their products across devices. But while the strategy makes sense, it's the execution that matters - and Microsoft showed with Windows 8 that it wasn't quite ready to deliver that unified OS. Maybe the next version will be different. 
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One for all ... Phone, Tablet, Desktop ...
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Unified OS is only the start, once you build Unified Applications and data storage/access into those as well irrespective of which device and or application you are accessing it from it will be a killer.
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The unified O/S approach enabled users to learn once and run everywhere. The new UX is key to the success of this strategy.

User's have already made the leap to the app store concept with Apple and Google products. Now, Microsoft needs to make sure that they don't kill the progress by being too greedy. User's have found that a $20 app can do their word processing, spreadsheets or presentations. If Microsoft tries to force a $500 office suite down people's throat they will continue to lose customers. Office365 is meh. I always have to be connected to use it and I have to trust Microsoft in the storage. Neither of which is possible in today's environment. So give me local storage and a local, cheap app that does what I need and you've got a winner.
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History has already taught us the lesson that "one-size-fits-all", both doesn't work, and isn't desired by exploiters/users.
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ease of use for most people they will not need to remember how to run their phone then use the desktop or tablet
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Its to commercial looking; designed for the surfer. I don't like the interface for at work.
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People, including admins, want to focus on using the tool to accomplish tasks; they don't want to focus on learning how to use that tool (especially not when they need to relearn it every X many years). They want to get a phone, or a laptop, and just "have it work the way they want", without investing any time or thought into learning the device.

Many of the people in my organisation, while refusing to admit it, resist learning new tech tools. The prevalence of people that don't use excel fully is a case in point for most businesses. Having to learn a single OS UI, and having to manage only a "single UI", is just such a huge advantage it can't be ignored - even more so with the numerous platforms and devices flooding the workplace these days.
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computing anywhere, anytime, on any platform.
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it can work, but the user interface should adapt to i) user preference (metro or desktop) and ii) hardware capability (touch or not).
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the unified concept is not going to work as too many users are accustomed to different interfaces to get the most from their technology purchases. People want an uncluttered,easy to grasp technology in their pocket, but more granular, deeper dive type technology on the desk. To bury that technology that makes it difficult to work with will push users away.
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I wish to avoid having to rediscover how to do things I already (thought) I knew. There's no need to have differences - so a unified approach is the way forward. I also hope that unnecessary, interface changes are minimised in later releases.
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By providing an experience where a user is able to pick up any Windows device and know how to use it (as long as they've used Windows on at least one device) will be a big advantage for Microsoft.
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I don't get why people think Apple doesn't offer a unified experience across multiple platforms. And if this is such a huge advantage, I need to hear why most of the people purchasing iPads are people who use Windows (since there aren't enough Mac users to explain the huge numbers).
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Seamless experience
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To make a unified computing experience it only makes sense if the interface is the same across all platforms. In Windows 8 MS has forsaken the desktop for the touchscreen w/out giving anyone with a desktop a way to get rid of the surface interface that don't have a touch screen.
They've gambled on giving a user community which is largely desktop/mouse a touchscreen interface when they don't control hardly any of that market. They should have to separate operating systems. They've spend years training users to use the "Start" button and familiar desktop only to take it away.

Windows 8 is doomed to fail and be another MS Bob, Vista, ME etc..
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Simplicity is the key to proving products that can cross the boundaries between home and work. Just like we are experiencing a flood of articles and discussions around BYOD, the pendulum will swing back to corporate provided models, and this is when Windows will have an advantage.
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Reduces the "Getting to know Ya" time.
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Haven't we already learned the lesson that one size doesn't fit all? This is one of the reasons that Microsoft's mobile strategy has failed so far; they've tried this "unified" approach before by putting a desktop UX on a mobile OS. Now, they're just doing the same thing in reverse by forcing a mobile UX onto the desktop. The strategy didn't take off before and I don't understand why they think it will work now. People want a UX appropriate for the paradigm that they're in, not one size fits all.
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My desktop is for work. Word excel PowerPoint. Not viewing pics of my vacation or the latest music video. My pad or phone is for diversion. Music videos txting. 2 diff uses. 2 diff looks
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From a consumer the one size works on all will simplify the use of much different type of devices.
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Consistent interface means more familiarity and less training.
It does NOT imply that one size fits all. Size relatest to form factor and performance rather than interface.
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I think that we have another ME or Vista here Windows 8 may work well with a touch screen but using a mouse or touch pad is to clumsey. I spent $65 on a wireless touch pad to give it a chance. Compaired to Android, you can't duplicate the touch and drag or double tap and open. It comes close with just the right sequence but I can't master it. Becides that they took out Solitare. I am not going to buy a touch screen just for that and I don't to many others will either.
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Simpler interface for users to be used to, less learning across multiple platforms
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unless hardware platforms become unified, but what for?
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One single interface dramatically reduces the leaning curve when switching HW devices.
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How do my fingers, vocal messages, motions and other natural commands work with these OSs if they are different?
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The use cases are not the same.
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Ease of use across devices. There is still some way to go to join WP 8 and Windows 8 but if that is accomplish it should be a winner
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Trained on one device, trained for all devices.
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Sure it will be in the future. The slight issue here is that we are not there yet. Apps and services need to back up the unified OS for the users to take full advantage of the available features.
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"Honda announces the merging of controls on their car and motorcycle lines." The same controls (UI) on different devices makes no sense at all.
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Great! We finally have the last computer interface that we will ever use. No changes anymore. Too bad it looks so bad. Whatever happen to choice? Should we all dress alike and drive the same color car?
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At the moment we support WIndows XP, Windows 7, Android devices and IOS devices. Having unified OS would decrease support costs, simplified management, same experience across all devices and lower training costs.
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easy to learn how to use, can help people move from work place to life
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it's clearly a move to unify, but at the corporate level, wireless devices are NOT for every company as is the cloud or virtual desktops. Wireless security is NOT secure, period. Until MS gives me the traditional start menu & AERO, I will actively look for soultions NOT using WIN8 or Server 2012
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I'm using W8 on tablet and WP7.5, both for work and am glad of the commonality where it's warranted (devices are not the same but I like being able to apply the same approach where common functions are being invoked). I think it's a major step forward, particularly in the concentration on information (where all devices function as different sized windows on to the same information landscape).
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Microsoft are trying to leave the corporate sector behind with all these fancy gadgets. Could have allowed the Metro interface to be disbled for business users whe rely on a simple interface not a cloned desktop from a phone or tablet
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I don't need a touch screen on my server
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I use a phone/tablet and a desktop differently. Because of this, I don't expect the UI to be "unified". I expect it to be optimized for my usage.
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It will ease management and support for IT Managers. Enterprises will embrace it as applications are delivered across muliple devices.
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different devices have different appetite, capabilities, purposes and functions.
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It's impossible to have the same user interface in the cloud, on a workstation, on tablet and on a cell phone. Because of this, applications for different platforms will always be different. Having the same OS core running on all platforms might somehow help developers save some time on learning new platforms, but majority of development work on different platforms is different. Microsoft's vision will annoy more users than make developers happy.
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Different devices require different approaches to the UI. Users are not stupid and can adapt very quickly.
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I do not want everything the same. I want some things different.

As the article stated, the unified strategy, with a consistent interface, is great for IT managers - but IT managers are not picking out cell phones at the mall with their teenage girl friends, or commuters, soccer moms, etc. struggling to find the 'just right' smart phone. Consumers buy those items, hence the BYOD moniker.

What I do like, as do most sensible people, is having the steering wheel on the right side, the right pedal controls the gas, the standard H pattern for shifting, the pull-down menus that we learned to use over the past 15 or so years, the standard task bar, multiple windows, etc.

I would also like to see a Windows system in which the interface and the kernal were not integrated; where I could connect from the local console or remotely, possibly from another PC, possibly from multiple PCs, possibly from a tablet or smart phone. And I am not talking about RDP, Citrix or X-windows. I'm way beyond that.
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Freedom
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not all devices scale in the same way, it is hard to optimize the user interface across all
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The benefits out weigh the product differenciation advantages.
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Devices need to be seen as different but in the same 'cyber-environment'. A unified OS promotes that view and minimises development, support and training issues.
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The same style standard can not apply to all devices, one device limitations does not apply to others, and most of the time, having a unified strategy is forcing limitations on devices that does not have the limitation. i.e. windows will be as good as it's lowest common hardware denominator.
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for mobile devices - its ok. for desktop users, its a thumbs down - we've been here many times - give desktop users a choice in which UI they want - give us the traditioanl start menu
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I believe unified OS is the way of the future and Microsoft being the only version that connects to the business Domain make it very exciting. Apple and other always make huge productivity claims but they all end up being smoke and mirrors and the IT person is the one that is blamed when it does not work with the user's Windows Domain and Applications???
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Increase Productivity
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Unified OS that is hardware agnostic is in line with many technology platforms taking hold today, such as virtualization. This further streamlines and simplifies the rollout of technology from IT as delivery of OS becomes less of a burden.
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There isn't a process of relearning the different nuances between various systems with a unified OS in place. So adoption is quicker.
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