During Intel's latest financials conference call, CEO Paul Otellini discussed plans to put Windows 8 onto phones. Wait ... did he say Windows 8? Where does that leave the Windows Phone ecosystem?
He did say Windows 8 ... in fact he was very clear about it:
The plus for Intel is that as they unify their operating systems we now have the ability for the first time: one, to have a designed-from-scratch, touch-enabled operating system for tablets that runs on Intel that we don’t have today. And secondly, we have the ability to put our lowest-power Intel processors running Windows 8, or "next-generation Windows," into phones, because it’s the same OS stack. And I look at that as an upside opportunity for us.
Unification may be the way to go. If Microsoft can solve the power issues and drop the heavy compatibility burden that comes with the OS Windows 8 might work on mobile devices (note that I said 'if' and 'might' ... there are no certainties yet). But where does this leave Microsoft brand spanking new Windows Phone 7 OS? You remember, that OS that got a big launch a little while ago? The one Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spent a lot of time talking about at CES? Yeah, that one. Kinda soon for a partner to be talking about another mobile OS, isn't it?
Also, where does this leave consumers who've parted with cash and given the OS a chance? And let's not forget the developers.
Where does this new tidbit from Intel fit into the big picture?
Is there even a big picture?
I'd expected that Windows Phone would end up being Microsoft answer to Android and iOS - an all-purpose mobile platform that would scale up or down depending on the size of the device. Given the confusing messages that we're getting from the Windows team, the Windows Phone team and now partners, it's clear that there's a lack of a coherent vision for mobile at Microsoft. It seems to me that the Windows and Windows Phone teams each have a conflicting vision for mobile, and this is already starting to cause confusion on the ground, all of which helps Apple and Google increase their already comfortable grip on the market.