Microsoft is reportedly working to unite the desktop and mobile flavors of its Windows operating system in an initiative code-named Threshold.
Due in the spring of 2015, Threshold may radically alter the Windows ecosystem, bringing Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox One—and the development efforts surrounding each—in sync. In a Dec. 2 report, ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley said Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson mentioned Threshold while referring to "plans for his unified operating-system engineering group" in a recent internal email to staffers.
"If all goes according to early plans, Threshold will include updates to all three OS platforms (Xbox One, Windows and Windows Phone) that will advance them in a way to share even more common elements." Foley wrote. She clarified that "Threshold doesn't refer to a single Windows OS." Rather, it represents a "wave of operating systems across Windows-based phones, devices and gaming consoles."
Threshold takes its name from a planet in the company's popular Halo video game series. The code name Cortana, Microsoft's Bing-powered, Siri-like virtual assistant technology, was also plucked from the fictional universe.
For now, the company is keeping mum regarding Threshold. A Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK, "We have nothing to share, but look forward to the opportunities ahead."
The news comes on the heels of recent, headline-grabbing remarks from Julie Larson-Green, executive vice president of Devices and Studios for Microsoft. During the UBS Global Technology Conference in November, Larson-Green hinted that a unified Windows OS platform was in the works. "We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We're not going to have three," she said.
A fragmented Windows OS landscape may have contributed to the chilly reception Microsoft's Surface RT tablet got at retail. Microsoft sought to deliver a device that provided "the full power of your Windows PC, and the simplicity of a tablet experience that can also be productive," said Larson-Green. Yet Surface RT, which runs Windows RT for ARM-based devices, failed to live up to Windows' decades-long software legacy. "It just didn't do everything that you expected Windows to do," she said.
Already, there are signs that similar to the "One Microsoft" reorganization effort, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker is bringing its Windows development efforts into better alignment. Last month, the company eliminated major cross-platform development hurdles for Windows and Windows Phone app coders. Now, courtesy of a new unified registration and membership scheme, Windows developers are also Windows Phone developers—and vice versa.
Todd Brix, general manager of Windows Apps and Store at Microsoft, stated in a blog post, "Over the last month, we've brought the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store together into a single marketing and operations team to deliver a better experience for developers, end users and partners." He added that the company's "focus remains to improve the way we help you reach new users and better monetize your apps, all while reducing friction and cost."