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Microsoft Sets a New Threshold for Windows Development

Microsoft Sets a New Threshold for Windows Development

Developers are key to Microsoft's efforts to gain a foothold in the apps market and create a cohesive Windows ecosystem. Its upcoming OS refreshes, code-named "Threshold," will strive for commonality across its three main platforms -- Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone -- making it easier for developers to work on apps that can flow easily from one screen to another.

By Richard Adhikari
12/03/13 9:02 AM PT

Microsoft's wave of operating systems updates planned for 2015 has been code-named "Threshold," ZDNet reported.

They involve the addition of a set of common elements -- high-value activities such as Microsoft Office, possibly the coming "Remix" digital storytelling app, Bing, Intune and Workplace -- to Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone.

The commonality of the updates "makes a lot of sense as Microsoft surely wants to create an ecosystem where apps from a vendor can exist easily across the three screens Microsoft has long touted -- Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone," Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, told TechNewsWorld.

One Approach to Rule Them All

The Xbox One OS, Windows 8.x OS and the Windows Phone 8 OS currently share a common Windows NT core.

Increasing commonality across all three will be in line with the One Microsoft vision outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer articulated earlier this year.

What Threshold Might Offer

Succeeding with mobile devices, Windows, Office 365 and Microsoft Azure will be foundational, Ballmer said in July. Xbox and Bing also will be key future contributors to financial success.

High-value activities such as serious fun, meetings, tasks, research, information assurance and IT/developer workloads would be championed at the top level, Ballmer said.

"I expect that [from] early 2014 with Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft will begin beating the drum to promote services of all kinds across all three screens -- Intune, Office 365, Power BI for Office 365, Bing, Xbox Gaming and any other service," Directions on Microsoft's Miller remarked.

Gaming and entertainment, which includes books, music and video, "will surely continue to be a focus," because Microsoft "will try to parlay the Xbox brand into more than just Xbox One," he continued.

Threshold's contribution to serious fun might mean games will "flow more easily between the platforms so you could conceivably play Xbox games off your PC, something I'd advocated years ago -- and, at times, off your tablet and Windows phone," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told TechNewsWorld.

The gaming market is huge and growing. Consumers in the United States spent US$1.72 billion on digital games during Q3 2013, according to the NPD Group. They forked over $1.3 billion on new physical video and PC games, and $436 million for used and rented games.

The Hard and Painful Stats

Having commonality across the different OSes will let Microsoft "flow the applications more easily across the platforms and make it even easier for developers to support all of them," Enderle suggested.

The company needs to attract devs. Apps are the lifeblood of mobile systems, and this is an area where Microsoft is lagging far behind Apple.

About 1.7 million apps were downloaded from the Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 in October.

However, Apple's App store saw more than 74 million downloads daily between June and October.

What About RT?

The lack of reference to Windows RT has fueled speculation that this particular Microsoft OS will be phased out.

That possibility was raised after the new head of Windows, Julie Larson-Green, recently told the UBS Global Technology Summit that Microsoft eventually would not have three Windows OSes, although she did not elaborate.

"I don't see Microsoft backing away from the Windows RT investment," Al Gillen, a program vice president at IDC, told TechNewsWorld.

On the other hand, Windows RT "appears to be merging with Windows Phone, which is interesting, given many of us argued that the Windows tablet OS should have come from Windows Phone," Enderle pointed out. "In effect, both will be replaced by an OS that will bridge the two form factors."


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