Microsoft working to unify further its Windows and Windows Phone platforms

Summary:A new Microsoft job posting indicates Microsoft is planning to enable Windows apps to run without modification on Windows Phone and vice versa.

It's not too surprising, but it's good to know: Microsoft is actively moving toward making its Windows Phone apps available on Windows, and its Windows 8/Windows RT apps on Windows Phone.

winphonestore

According to a new job post on the Microsoft careers site - thanks @Windows4Live and WMPowerUser.com for the find -- Microsoft is seeking a software development engineer in test (SDET) to help make this possible.

From the February 7 Windows Phone team job posting:

Are you excited about Windows Phone? Are you passionate about delivering the best possible experience to the developer community? Do you wish the code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa? If so, then this is the role for you! 

(Note: Windows Store apps are Metro-Style apps , for those still stymied by Microsoft's naming conventions.)

"We are looking for a highly motivated and technically strong SDET to help our team bring together the Windows Store and Phone development platforms," the job post continued. To make this happen, Microsoft is "bring(ing) much of the WinRT API (application programming interface) surface and the .NET Windows Store profile to the Phone," according to the job post. 

"You will work closely with your developer and PM (product program manager) counterparts to solve the technical challenges of bringing a platform built for desktops and tablets to the phone form factor," the job posting noted.

Currently, Microsoft does not allow Windows Phone apps to be sold in the Windows Store without modification. There are more than 150,000 Windows Phone apps in the Windows Phone Store at present. Microsoft officials have not said officially how many Windows apps are in the Windows Store, but it's believed to be considerably fewer  (in spite of accidental executive promises to the contrary).

Microsoft officials have insisted there is a considerable amount of code reuse possible for developers who've built for Windows Phone and want to move their apps to Windows 8/Windows RT -- and vice versa. Some developers have said they've found this to be true; others claim there's more work to be done than they expected in moving from one platform to the other.

According to Microsoft officials, the developer platform for Windows Phone 8, which are powered by ARM processors, and Windows RT -- the version of Windows that runs on ARM processors -- is "similar." But it's not exactly the same. The two operating systems (Windows Phone and Windows 8/Windows RT) "do not have unified runtimes and application programming interfaces exposed," officials acknowledged last year.

The move to get both sets of apps to run interchangeably on the two platforms fits in with Microsoft's overarching goal to bring together the Windows 8/Windows RT and Windows Phone code bases and developer platforms. Microsoft made progress toward this goal in 2012, but for now, the Windows 8, Windows RT and Windows Phone platforms are not identical. The Windows Phone 8 operating system does include the Windows NT core, however.

I'd think Windows Blue, the wave of next-generation Windows and Windows Phone platform releases , may be key to the move toward a common Windows Phone and Windows 8/Windows RT Store experience. According to sources, Microsoft will be making some changes at the API and kernel level to Windows as part of the Blue release, which may arrive as soon as this summer/fall, if the rumors are right.

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, PCs, Smartphones, Software Development, Tablets, Windows Phone

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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