Microsoft's Windows 8 could feature the ability to place calls, according to a set of blog postings. That raises some interesting questions.
Microsoft's Windows 8 could offer some baked-in calling
The blog istartedsomething
managed to take some interesting screenshots of a Windows 8 phone feature
during Microsoft's BUILD conference (which ran from Sept. 13-16). The
next-generation operating system will reportedly arrive sometime in 2012.
Those screenshots included a "Missed Calls" tile on Windows
8's user interface, as well as the option to "call mobile" for an individual
contact in the "People" app. The blog WinRumors
also offered some video footage of the latter.
That raises some fascinating questions. Does Microsoft mean
for some variant of Windows 8 to succeed Windows Phone? How would a Windows 8
phone differ from Windows 8 on larger devices like tablets and PCs? As
istartedsomething suggested, Microsoft's recent Skype acquisition could also
factor into this, somehow.
Microsoft has revealed quite a bit about Windows 8, but less
about the ecosystem it plans to build around the next-generation operating
system. It will run on both tablets and traditional PCs, courtesy of a
touch-centric interface (centered on colorful tiles) paired with a traditional
desktop, with easy switching between the two depending on the situation. The
tablet-ready interface embraces the "Metro" aesthetic pioneered by Microsoft's
Zune and Windows Phone software, drawing away from the "Aero" design used in Windows
Vista and Windows 7. When it flips to desktop mode, Windows 8 offers a "look"
that, at least at this early stage, seems chunkier and more blockish than Aero.
To accompany that dual-interface,
Microsoft is planning two versions of Internet Explorer 10: a "Metro" app
tailored for tablets, and a more traditional desktop app. The Metro-style
browser will be "plug-in free," a potentially worrisome development for Adobe
and its Flash Player, which continues to power much of the Web's rich content.
During his Sept. 13 BUILD keynote, Windows and Windows Live
division president Steven Sinofsky insisted that technology had evolved enough
in the three years since Windows 7's release to justify the creation of a whole
new operating system. He argued that the rise of mobility, particularly in the
consumer space, made it essential to build a platform capable of running on
Certainly Windows has managed to succeed better within its
own particular vertical than Windows Phone, which is struggling for adoption.
"It was under a year ago that we launched the first Windows
Phone," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told the assembled media and analysts. "We
haven't sold quite as many probably as I would have hoped we would have sold in
the first year."
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter