Windows 8: Not Coming to a Phone Near You

Windows 8: Not Coming to a Phone Near You

Misquotes can be a lovely thing, creating entire fake cycles of news that confuse people for months. The retractions that inevitably are even more entertaining, when the wrong quote is stacked up against the real quip, and the discrepancy laid bare.

In today’s case, Steve Ballmer was supposed to have said: “We’ve got broad initiatives driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8.” That would be huge, right? But he didn’t say that. No, instead, according to the official Microsoft script, confirmed independently by GeekWire, this is what Ballmer said:

We’ve got broad Windows initiatives driving Windows down to the phone.  With Windows 8, you’ll see incredible new form factors powered by Windows from tablets, small, large, pens, smaller, bigger, room-sized displays. 

That’s, well, completely different. That Windows will eventually make its way to a phone at some point is all but certain. If you recall, for much of its mobile history, Microsoft tried to replicate the Windows experience on Pocket PCs. They even had tiny Start Menus. Now that Windows has a dedicated touch layer, of course it will end up on phones. In the same way that your Xbox’s interface is slowly morphing into the same boxy GUI that Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 contain. Unification is coming, and it’s not hard to see.

Windows 8, however, is not it. Unless Microsoft is truly about to tear up its entire product line and bake the code into the Xbox and Windows Phone lines. But there has been scant indication of that. In fact, what we hear about those two platforms indicates that this is not happening. Yet.

But Windows 8 will land on small tablets, you can read up on that here, and it will run on the current phone hardware that will be extant when it launches. The hurdle is that Windows 8 is not designed to have phone capabilities. Windows, more generally, is not. It’s plausible that in the future we will see tailored builds of Windows for phones and the Xbox; why not use the same code base? But we are not there yet.

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