Microsoft: Phablets are Windows RT's future

Microsoft: Phablets are Windows RT's future

Summary: The possible convergence between Windows RT and the Windows Phone OS may be closer than many thought, based on new hints from Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting.


The question arises again and again: Why is Microsoft continuing to back Windows on ARM, especially with the latest advances by Intel with Bay Trail and Haswell?

New Microsoft OS division chief Terry Myerson is third from the left.

It seems like the answer revolves around phablets -- at least based on a clue from Microsoft Executive Vice President Terry Myerson, the head of Microsoft's newly converged operating system division.

At Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting (FAM) on September 19, Myerson answered a question about the future of Windows RT, Microsoft's version of Windows for ARM. After noting that ARM devices, especially phones, have incredible battery life, Myerson noted that lines are blurring.

His exact quote: "Windows RT was our first ARM tablet. And as phones extend into tablets, expect us to see many more ARM tablets, Windows ARM tablets in the future."

This is the blurring of the lines that some of us Microsoft watchers have been anticipating.

Windows Phone runs on ARM. Windows RT runs on ARM. Both use the NT core. And Microsoft is working to unify the programming interfaces, frameworks and dev tools across these platforms. Though there isn't (yet) a common Windows Store for Windows Phone and Windows RT, there's no reason this will always be the case.

As I blogged recently:

"Will it always be the case that a five-inch phone must run an operating system called 'Windows Phone OS'? Or could it run something called 'Windows RT'? (Or vice versa?) What if the Windows Phone OS and Windows RT both evolve so they become, for all intents and purposes, one OS that can run on mobile devices without a desktop?

"For those who thought Microsoft should have made Windows 8 more of a true desktop/laptop OS that wasn't optimized for touch tablets, and made the Windows Phone OS the operating system for touch-tablet devices, this kind of phone OS/RT convergence might be a belated dream come true.... "

This isn't just some pipe dream. Myerson also told FAM attendees:

"(W)e really should have one silicon interface for all of our devices. We should have one set of developer APIs on all of our devices. And all of the apps we bring to end users should be available on all of our devices," he said. 

Check, check and check.

Microsoft still isn't there yet, in terms of a single set of developer APIs or a unified, cross-device store. But it sounds like that's the goal.

On the phablet front, by the way, Nokia is expected to take the wraps off its Windows Phone 8 OS-based Lumia 1520 (codenamed "Bandit") in late October and make those devices available around November 8 on AT&T, according to WPCentral.

If and when Microsoft ends up acquiring Nokia's handset division, as it has announced intentions to do, the Windows RT-Windows Phone convergence may take a step forward.

Topics: Mobile OS, Microsoft, Mobility, Tablets, ARM, Windows 8, 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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  • Having used WinRT for a few months now...

    ... I can honestly say that I'm no longer interested in Intel's broken promises of better processors. They've been saying forever now "Wait, wait, wait...", and nothing has come of it. I'm glad Microsoft is continuing to develop WoA, and can't wait to see the next gen WinRT devices.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • It is what we have heard for decades from MS

      and its fanbois . . . "Just wait until the next one".
      • Microsoft are fools - They don't understand their market

        It's actually sad to see the executives of Microsoft having no idea about the dynamics of the market in which they are in (or trying to be in).

        The only way to win is to win in smartphones first. Steve Jobs knew this, which is why he delayed the iPad to develop a phone first. The phone will be the first and main ecosystem, due to its portable nature. Other form factors will scale up from the phone.

        Microsoft's offerings are a dog's breakfast. It was reasonably successful with Windows Mobile, but then axed it. Then came duds like Sidekick and Kin, just to destroy any faith in Microsoft's ability to make their phones work. Then we had Windows Phone on a CE core. Then they axed it and brought in Windows Phone 8 on an NT core. Now they've got Windows RT with the intention of scaling it down. It's a mess.

        Microsoft should have put all efforts into getting the phone right first, and hit the ground running (but alas they couldn't execute).
        • How's your multi-billion $ company?

          You being so smart and wise must run a very successful multi-billion dallar business. The fools at Microsoft, must be very, very lucky indeed to have created one as, according to you they are so clueless.
          • Mary Jo let it go

            "For those who thought Microsoft should have made Windows 8 more of a true desktop/laptop OS that wasn't optimized for touch tablets"

            Windows tablets and phones need to ride the coattails of PCs. If the desktop/laptop didn't have a touch interface development support would have no prayer of catching up to Android/iOS. Furthermore almost every new laptop and desktop being announced today comes with a touch screen, this will only accelerate further in the future. The industry is moving towards touch being standard on all electronics, anyone resisting this is stuck in a dinosaur mentality.
          • MS is a sinking ship

            In fairness, you should say they are destroying a billion dollar company. Everyone and their brother could see RT would be a comercial disaster before it launched. Well, everyone except Microsoft.
        • You should

          Put up a company like Microsoft or something coz it sounds that you know better how to run it than them. Unless you have one already.
          • But im sure

            You don't..gezzz some people think they know everything.
        • You are quite frankly full of sh*t!!!

          You really need to shut up because you are woefully ignorant. Take a hike fanboy.
          • Don't throw a chair

            Calm down Mr. Balmer, please. :)
    • No phablets arent Windows RTs future. There is no more windows RT,

      and there will be no more windows phone, just windows and windows pro. And there are no phablets, just tablets of various sizes and phones of various sizes. There will be 6" and 7" phones and there will be 4" and 5" tablets. What makes a phone is cell and sms. Any windows device can have 4G/5G, from phones to tablets to ultrabooks and laptops. All arm devices will run windows and intel devices will run either windows or windows pro. There will be one store for phones and tablets and ultrabooks and laptops and desktops. Maybe xbone too. I would certainly love to see MS ship a 5" lumia phone running windows pro on 14nm intel silvermont silicon next year. Or 10nm airmont silicon if intel can get its pace picked up.
      Johnny Vegas
      • wonder

        Did you read this in some internal Microsoft memo, or it is just a pipe dream?

        I ask, because it all makes sense. Yet, it is not what Microsoft is showing to the public.
  • Same old Microsoft

    Still skating to where the puck is.
    • Good Point

      Microsoft has a history of joining the party late. But then again, quite often then end up winning the game.
      • This time is different though

        Microsoft is selling a product in competition to a free product. Didn't they learn anything from chopping off Netscape at the knees?
      • Re: Microsoft has a history of joining the party late

        When did Windows Mobile first come out?
      • Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

        come to mind here
  • Microsoft: Phablets are Windows RT's future

    Same old garbage with A slightly different smell.

    Its Microsoft....what else could you expect them to say

    Like all our next ideas will be better than Metro in W-8 or W-8.1 or W-8.2 or W-8.3 or W-8.4 or W-8.5 or W8.6............than we skip on to w-9.5, etc and we continue to hear the same old tale.............wait till the next release
    Over and Out
  • Microsoft: Phablets are Windows RT's future

    Its one of the better moves Microsoft can make. Microsoft Windows RT is already developed, runs Microsoft Windows applications, and runs on ARM so its portable. So making this a base for future products is a good choice.
    • "Windows RT is already developed, runs Microsoft Windows applications"

      See, that's one of the reasons why consumers get confused. Surface RT does NOT run all Windows applications. It just runs Windows RT applications.