Tablets moving to Windows Phone? Not likely

Tablets moving to Windows Phone? Not likely

Summary: There's a rumor floating around that Microsoft plans to revamp Windows Phone 9 to also work on tablets. While that would have made sense before Windows 8, it's too late to do it now.

No Way

Computerworld is reporting that a rumor from a Russian web site has Microsoft rebooting Windows Phone yet again to include handling both tablets and phones. The Russian web site has been right in the past about other rumors so some are giving this new one credence. 

As Computerworld details it, Microsoft "will combine Windows Phone and its tablet operating systems by 2015". This would be an approach similar to what Apple and Google did with iOS and Android. While that would have made sense back when Windows Phone was just getting started, it's too late to make such a radical change.

If Microsoft merged the tablet OS into Windows Phone, both partners and existing customers would likely froth at the mouth. Partners have invested a lot of time and money in Windows Phone and Windows 8 and to make the rumored change would throw them under the bus. 

At the recently concluded Worldwide Partners Conference in Houston, Microsoft gave priority to partners to promote Windows 8 tablets as good solutions. These companies will no doubt invest a lot of effort to make that happen, so it makes little sense for Microsoft to be planning to move tablets to Windows Phone.

Windows Phone enthusiasts have already seen Microsoft reboot the phone OS already when it upgraded to Windows Phone 7. Making another major change to revamp the phone OS yet again to include tablets would likely be too much for partners to handle while possibly leaving phone customers behind.

While many believed designing Windows 8 to handle tablets and other PCs was a mistake, the die has been cast by Microsoft and it would make no sense to make the change to Windows Phone. It would have been far more logical to adapt Windows Phone to also work with tablets in the beginning and to make the change now would disrupt both the Windows Phone and the Windows 8 worlds.

Moving tablets from Windows 8 to Windows Phone would basically orphan Microsoft's Surface tablets, and that would be a death knell. Surface sales are believed to be lower than expected and switching the OS would almost certainly be viewed as abandoning the owners of Microsoft's first PCs. It would rival what HP did to webOS.

The Windows 8 tablet space is already confused, so to have both Windows Phone and Windows 8 tablets would be downright disorienting. Consumers and enterprises would both have to step back to figure out what tablets and which OS would be the way to go.

Stranger things have happened but the negatives associated with restarting Windows Phone to also handle tablets far outweigh any benefits. Microsoft should have added tablets to Windows Phone from the start and to do so in the future would not win any points with its partners. The folks at Microsoft are far too smart to do that.

The only way I''ll believe that Microsoft is going to revamp Windows Phone to handle tablets is when I see Mary Jo Foley or Ed Bott report it. What about you? Do you think this rumor has any teeth? Sound off in the TalkBack and let us know.

Topics: Mobility, Tablets, Windows 8, Windows Phone

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  • Another idea

    It may be an idea to allow Windows Phone OS (with or without phone, but with 3g/4g) to run on devices with 6 and 7 inch sizes with a price range of $149 to $199. Microsoft should have considered this idea in 2010
  • I don't work for MS

    and have no idea what their plans are. I do know that admitting you made a mistake and correcting it is a better business decision that staying committed to a failing strategy.
    • MS needs to ve very careful

      If they do this, then it will lead to another generation of equipment that cannot be updated, such as occurred with phones before WP8. Doing that again is likely to really tick-off customers!

      That said, it would have to be a better option for MS, developers and users to only be looking at two different OSes rather than the current three.
  • What's more likely is putting Windows on the phones...

    What's more likely is that Microsoft will put Windows (well, Windows RT) onto the phones.
    • Yep

      Yes, I want RT and WP to be merged.

      On WP I miss flicking from the left to switch applications and sliding down from the top to close applications.

      On RT I hate the huge unused area around the tiles on the start screen, especially on any monitor smaller than 12'.
      • Forgot

        I forgot, I also want multiple user accounts on WP. Sometimes I swap phones with my GF depending on who needs good gps/camera on that day. Not being cut off from email notifications on the phone while doing that would be great.
    • That was my first thought, too.

      I immediately wondered why everyone is assuming that it meant WP8 was coming to tablets, rather than the other way around. It makes no sense to put WP8 on tablets, but it makes perfect sense to put their tablet OS on phones. Then, the same Metro apps will work across all three platforms (in theory.) Of course, for me this is an academic exercise in speculation which won't affect my own decision not to buy into Windows 8 in any form. I don't really care what they do. :)
      • How about WP apps on RT/x86

        Just like Android can be run on a windows tablet why not open those apps to the flailing Metro apps list. Metro has like one useful app, Netflix.

        BTW I loaded 8.1 on my Envy X2 and I am impressed with the fixes. Feels like Win7 but with a proper touch interface and runs several times faster than 7. Since it's a preview it has a few driver bugs but is pretty good. I am equally comfortable/impartial on windows, Android, MacOS and Linux.
    • already tried

      Remember Windows Mobile?
  • by 2015

    it may even be irrelevant. The tablet/phone paradigm, I mean, replaced by some other paradigm. Of course, it could also mean m$ ( would be irrelevant) if we are all lucky.
  • For me it makes sense

    Mobile strategy for MS is failing, Windows phone is far from being succeeding but windows on tablet is a complete failure.
    I understand the idea of MS when they wanted to transform tablets into more "just another window device" - but people was/is not ready for it.
    • Re: but people was/is not ready for it

      A diplomatic way to say people are/were not interested? :)
  • "The folks at Microsoft are far too smart to do that."

    There may be smart people over there, but its the overall "collective" that is driving their actions. Its like they are all tied at the ankles frantically trying to go in different directions as they are heading to a cliff.
    MS could do about anything at this point and it will be the wrong decision. I wouldn't rule out anything.
  • Squash it or die

    Wow. This could be a big problem for Microsoft. They need to either admit it and explain exactly what it means to people who buy their existing technology, or issue a statement that there is no truth to it at all. If they don't, something like this could kill the already-weak platform.
    • Nothing need 'die'

      What would 'die' if Microsoft decided to extend the WinPhone, platform to reach larger 3G/4G devices with bigger screens?

      With the Windows, RT, Phone and Xbox OS' now being organized in the same team (for the first time), and Microsoft clearly driving to consolidate their platforms, I think it's safe to say that by 2015, we may see the OS and app platforms move closer together than ever before.
      • If customers die, so does the platform.

        I'm not saying it's a bad technical strategy. I'm saying they've already abandoned customers once when they dropped the original Windows Mobile. If customers think they'll be abandoned again, that is not good for the platform. It will be bad if Microsoft doesn't assure existing and future customers that they'll be supported with the Windows Phone "reboot" if the rumor is true.
  • Common app platform

    I think this is based on a misunderstanding of the ways Windows Phone and Windows [RT 8.1/8.1/some future version of 8] will be able to run the same apps; that's easy to mistake for combining the OS, as is the fact that Windows Phone will get new capabilities from Windows 8.1 like the improved security/SCEP management support etc. Platform level commonalities, not a common OS.
  • That's always been the plan...

    MS early on said they wanted a unified platform for all three device types. So the rumor is that they're actually doing what they said they would do?

    Ohhh, stahp.
  • Another useless story containing little to no facts.

    Another column writer contriving stories to fill space and show off Mr. Kendricks bias.
  • Switch?

    It would make perfect sense. The Windows Phone environment makes sense for tablets, but not for laptops, and desktops, just as the Windows 8 'modern' interface doesn't fit well with laptops and desktops. Ditching the Windows 8 'modern' interface and going back to the older desktop environment, with a tiled start menu that was just that, a start menu, would be a great idea. I will not buy a windows 8 computer, unless, and until, I can NEVER have to look at the 'modern' tiled interface, walled garden app system, and 'live tiles', with all my various messaging functions 'integrated into one. NOT the way I work.