Microsoft CFO Klein: We're ready for devices of all sizes

Microsoft CFO Klein: We're ready for devices of all sizes

Summary: Microsoft is continuing to hint that its core Windows platform will scale across devices of all sizes. Write once, run anywhere really is getting closer, the company's CFO says.


For years, "write once, run anywhere" has been the dream of many developers and -- whether or not they knew it -- Windows customers who have wanted to share the same apps across different screens.


Microsoft is getting closer to making dream a reality, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Peter Klein told attendees of the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference during a Q&A session on February 13.

Klein was asked about Microsoft's plans to address the tablet and phone market with device form factors ranging from 4 inches to 13 inches and beyond. 

"We've done a lot of the hard work in the developer platform," Klein said. "We are well set up to respond to demand as we see it" with different-sized form factors, he said.

Klein's response echoed that of Windows CFO Tami Reller, with whom I spoke recently. Reller also made a point of saying that Windows 8 was designed from the outset to run on smaller and bigger screens at different resolutions, and that it's the underlying app platform/app model that enables this.

This new "we'll see what customers want" in terms of screen size is a markedly different message from Microsoft officials than just a year ago, when Microsoft execs pooh-poohed the advantage of smaller screen sizes for Windows devices that could act as both creation and consumption platforms.

Klein did note that it's not operating systems that matter in the end; it's more the common experiences -- apps and services like Xbox Live, Skype, SmartGlass -- that are what really  matter to consumers. That said, it's the evolving underlying application programming interfaces (APIs) that will be what enables developers of these apps and services to get closer cross-platform nirvana.

"We are getting closer and closer every day to write once and run anywhere," Klein said.

Microsoft is forging ahead on attempts solve this problem, as a recent job post (which has since been filled and removed from the company's Careers site) made plain. That post noted that Microsoft is attempting to unify further its Windows Phone and Windows development platforms and APIs.

"We are looking for a highly motivated and technically strong SDET (software development engineer in test) 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. The ultimate goal: "(T)he code you write for Windows Store apps would just work on the Windows Phone and vice versa."

The "Blue" Windows and Windows Phone updates which Microsoft's Windows client and Phone teams are building are expected to include new APIs and core-level changes that will help increase commonalities between the two platforms, according to my contacts.

In response to questions outside the realm of multi-size-screen support, Klein had nothing new to say about when/whether Microsoft will make Office available on iOS.

When asked about learnings Microsoft has gleaned from the Surface launch -- starting back in October when the company made available the Surface RT -- Klein said the company came to understand that users need to touch, see and play with the Surface. Building awareness alone isn't enough, he acknowledged. Klein also said updates Microsoft is making to the Surfaces based on user feedback are going to go back into the Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems that will benefit the entire ecosystem.

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


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Load Once

    Bloat and Viruses anywhere!
    • Read again

      Read again, this is not about android.
      • windows multiplataform kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

        "write once, run anywhere"
        That is the slogan of java

        I do not see it when programming for windows

        microsoft and his penchant for copying others, all to keep their monopoly
        Henrique Dourado
        • what the...

          "microsoft and his penchant for copying others, all to keep their Monopoly". I guess you weren't around for the last 25 years. MS AND Apple have created pretty much everything around you. Windows have been, since the 80's, a solid foundation on which an entire industry has grown and became prosper.
          I’m sick of guys like you, who have no clue and that probably like Android because of the illusion of Free surrounding it. Ms have been talking about very forward thinking concept of Write once run anywhere even before .Net. So take a death breath because these guys are responsible for pretty much every take you take for granted in the industry.

          Today it is the open source community that steals pretty every concept that we once created by MS, Oracle, Apple or Adobe.
          • Old concepts..

            Unix and the C language were created with the "write once run anywhere" concept.
            Microsoft is not an innovative company in general. They totally missed two major trends which happened in the last 15 years...Internet and mobile.

            They prospered while maintaining a monopoly on Windows and played dirty to maintain this monopoly. For example, they used the monopoly to squeeze out Word Perfect by keeping key APIs in Windows to themselves. When Word Perfect came out with their first GUI version on Windows 3.1, it pretty much sucked because it was so slow...
          • The problem with the young not bothering with history...

            is that it is far easier to spout nonsense. "they totally missed two major trends which happened in the last 15 years...Internet and mobile". Huh?

            Ajax, that staple of the modern browser was created by Microsoft back in 1998 to provide functions for Outlook Web Access. Of course it wasn't called Ajax by Microsoft that was a term coined in the early 2000's (see this definition in Wikipedia which agrees with my recollection of events

            It was added to IE 5.5 (yes, version 5.5 not 1.0 in 1998). Oh, and Netscape et al cried found that Microsoft were not standard compliant by introducing Ajax.

            Even earlier, Bill Gates demoed a Windows-based tablet and, of course, Windows mobile has existed on mobile phones for *years*.

            So, no, they didn't miss the trend. Did they focus on it? No. They produced Windows, Office, XBox and whole list of products used by every corporation in the world.

            On the way, they've created truly MASSIVE businesses for others with millions making very good livings in the Microsoft world. In the meantime we have Apple sitting on a pile of $137Bn in cash and taking 30% from anyone who will try to earn a crust from the Apple eco-system.
          • Yes, they missed the Internet

            ... but once they realised it they turned around the company in a short space of time (especially for such a large organisation). And they had one of the first commercial tablet platforms, and had one of the original smartphones in the Windows Mobile devices - so they missed mobile?

            Yes they can be seen as having missed the new "consumerisation" model brought in by Apple - which after all was little more than taking their closed market model of iTunes and applying it to the phone market .... not sure how much that's actually innovation given your view. And once again, they have completely re-architected their products to take them into this market.

            And don't get me onto the closed market approach of Apple :-)
        • "Write once, run anywhere" has been around since the beginning of computers

          and it's not exclusive to any software platform.

          COBOL was (is) the best known programming language which could actually make the claim, and it would be true.
          • Run Anywhere? Almost!

            Since the beginning, when COBOL, FORTRAN, ALGOL, etc. were designed for "mainframes" less powerful than today's non-smart cellphones, this has been a goal of programmers, and it has always been 95 percent achieved. Applications that do simple calculations (even if lots of them) where the method of storing numbers does not matter, and do not take advantage of peculiarities of specific hardware or software environments, only had to be recompiled (and for similar machines such as the IBM 360 series, not always that) to work correctly. However, sophisticated applications such as transaction modules for online systems such as CICS, or interfaces to proprietary file systems or databases, have always fallen in the other 5 percent. Sorting sequence depends upon which character code is being used (in the EBCDIC code used by IBM, numbers come AFTER letters, while in ASCII they come BEFORE them; COBOL now has the ability to specify the "alphabet" in order to allow for these differences by translating character strings into a special code just to compare them). Even simple programs sometimes have to change a few critical "parameter setting" lines of code, which is why COBOL has its Environment Division. The concept is old, but has never been achieved 100 percent outside of the "Hello world" level of programming. And even that would be programmed differently on a machine with high speed line printers than on one with a teletype or other remote connection.

            So if Microsoft believes they can cross that "last centimeter" with the variety of devices AND device SIZES that exist today, I wish them well. And yes, that was Java's idea too, before every OS vendor defined its own "extension" run-time emulator.
          • Write once, run anywhere, was still very successful, and the 5% that

            you mention was not a barrier to creating that portable code.

            The 5% was always expected, because of the hardware and OS differences, and that of the compilers and the file management systems. But, all of those were easily manageable and the mantra worked quite well. HTML is a similar "language" where write once run anywhere matters, but, with so many different browsers and different makers, and different scripting languages to assist the html, we are running into the same problems that COBOL and the other high-level languages ran into. But, none of those "problems" or differences, should be barriers towards the intentions of "write once, run anywhere".

            Until some regulating entity comes up with a rule that demands that, all browsers work exactly the same, and that certain languages work exactly the same for all environments, there will always be that "5%" that needs to be taken into consideration.
    • I see

      Way to raise the level of conversation.
      Jeff Kibuule
    • Leave iPads out of this.

      Or did you think this was about Android?

      That was what you wanted, right?
      William Farrel
    • No load

      See the huge security hole story posted on Drudge, with billions of readers, about Google Play with a security hole you could drive a floating cruise line ship through. Millions and millions of Androids users info stolen over and over. Bye, bye bank accounts.
  • Hear that Apple?

    Metro is on the onslaught! And a very very good thing too! Now get innovating! Ditch OS X and focus on making IOS able to hold its own against Metro! Exciting times!
    • Really? Metro is Nasty

      And consumers are speaking that they think it is garbage.
      • No a few Metro haters are speaking out trying to represent the 'consumer'

        60 million licences sold. Hardly garbage.
        • 60 million Metro sold?

          Or 60 million windows 8 license to OEMs. There's a big difference. That Windows 8 PC sitting on a Best Buy shelf patiently waiting for a consumer to purchase was counted as part of that 60 million sold to OEMs. Where did you get that consumers purchased 60 million "Metro" PCs?
          • Yes

            If there was no demand, the OEMs wouldn't buy the licences. They'd just put Linux on instead.
          • Afraid not

            As linux is even more broken than windows, see the fact that even though every other major OS, BSD, Solaris, Windows, OSX, iOS, etc have a stable ABI Linux drivers are still such a mess Dell had to run their own repos just to keep the lousy dozen models they were selling of Ubuntu (the supposed "user friendly" Linux) running and you can see why the OEMs feel trapped and are trying to sell what Win 7 systems they have left rather than sit on more Win 8 turkeys.

            This is why I'll bet my last dollar every major OEM is now in talks with Google about ChromeOS, as Google controls the situation and has shown they are capable of providing drivers that work. Heck can you even FIND a list of currently being sold wiFi chipsets that are 100% guaranteed to work in Linux?

            Until the mess that is drivers in Linux is fixed (which won't happen as long as Torvalds controls the kernel) the OEms will avoid it like the plague. Just look at how everyone from Walmart to MSI have tried and all quit within a year of selling Linux, why? Driver issues makes support a nightmare, that's why. You can give me your OS for free any time but if it costs me triple what it does Windows to support then I've lost money, no sale.
            PC builder
          • Uhm

            Hasselhoff did say "60 million licences", not "60 million Metro" sold.