updated 02:55 pm EST, Tue November 26, 2013
Microsoft says three Windows platforms not ideal long term
Microsoft is working to bring the number of Windows platforms on the market down to at most two in over the next few years. This according to Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green, who spoke at the UBS Global Technology Summit recently, saying that the company definitely plans to winnow the number of platforms it has, but that that process will likely take some time. Larson-Green neglected to specify exactly how Microsoft will accomplish the task.
"We have the phone OS, we have Windows RT, and we have full Windows," Larson-Green said. "We are not going to have three."
Windows Phone has been gradually gaining market share among smartphones, but Windows RT - Microsoft's version of Windows for ARM processors - has struggled to see any adoption among consumers. The ARM version, while running on chipsets more suitable to the increasingly popular tablet form factor, cannot run legacy Windows apps, and its look has caused no small amount of consumer confusion.
PC manufacturers, meanwhile, have been abandoning Windows RT in droves, canceling RT-powered devices to the degree that only one independent manufacturer has released a major RT device in some time: Nokia, which Microsoft is buying. Microsoft itself has taken a $900 million write-down on the Surface RT, a "reference device" meant to demonstrate the potential of the platform.
Larson-Green, though, expressed the necessity of the platform for Microsoft's current operations.
"We do think there is a world where there is a more mobile operating system, that doesn't have the risks to battery life or the risk to security [that Windows does]," she said, "but it also comes with a cost of flexibility."