Windows 8 Could Send Windows Phone 7 To The Graveyard

microsoft funeral iphone

Photo: Flickr/trioculus

Based on what Microsoft has shown so far, the Windows 8 tablet interface (or “tailored UI” in Microsoftese) will look and work a lot like Windows Phone 7.It will run on the low-powered ARM processors that run most smartphones and tablets. It will have “live tiles” that change with constantly updated new information instead of static icons. You’ll navigate by swiping your finger to move screens from left to right, using a similar system of horizontal and vertical menus.

It will even use the same font.

But it’s not Windows Phone 7. In particular, based on the most recent comments from Microsoft, it looks like it won’t run apps written in Silverlight — Microsoft’s development platform for Windows Phone 7. Instead, developers will have to write apps using Web technologies — HTML5 and Javascript.

So apps written for Windows Phone 7 probably won’t work on Windows 8. At least not without some serious tweaking by developers.

So flash forward to the end of 2012. Suddenly Microsoft has two mobile OSs that do the same thing. One will ship on nearly 400 million devices, guaranteed. (That’s the projected PC market in 2012, and assuming no collapse, sales will be around that in 2013.) The other might ship on 100 million, assuming Nokia’s market share remains stable and they successfully transition off Symbian to Windows Phone.

How long will Microsoft let two entire product divisions work on incompatible versions of essentially the same product? Why not just take the Windows 8 UI and move it onto phones?

Of course, Microsoft could never SAY that’s what it’s doing, or the development of apps for the current Windows Phone platform would dry up. And it’s possible that the Nokia deal includes some sort of commitment to ship and support the current version of Windows Phone — or at least a backward-compatible version of it — for a certain number of years.

But it’s also possible that Microsoft is already working with Nokia on the next generation of Windows Phones. Which will truly be Windows Phones.

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