Microsoft is introducing the next version of its operating system for smartphones today — and one of the key features of Windows Phone 8 is that it will share a common core with Windows 8 when the two operating systems ship this fall.

That means Windows 8 desktop, notebook and tablet computers and Windows Phone 8 smartphones will have a shared kernel, shared hardware drivers for networking, graphics, and multimedia, and additional shared features.

Windows Phone 8

Among other things, by bringing the mobile and desktop operating systems closer together, Microsoft is going to make it easier for developers to create apps that can run across both types of device.

What this means is we won’t see tablets running Windows Phone 8… but we may see Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets running the same apps that are designed for smartphones.

Windows Phone 8 also adds a number of new features, including support for a wider range of hardware including devices with multi-core chips, removable microSD cards, and higher resolution displays including 1280 x 720 and 1280 x 768 pixel screens.

Microsoft is also bringing Nokia’s map software with turn-by-turn directions to the OS, introducing a new Wallet app for secure payments on devices with NFC, and adding more customization options for personalizing your phone’s start screen.

Overall Windows Phone 8 seems like a decent upgrade for Microsoft’s mobile operating system — but it’s an upgrade that current owners of Windows Phone 7.5 devices won’t get. No current phones will be able to run Windows Phone 8. Instead Microsoft will offer a Windows Phone 7.8 upgrade which will bring just some of the new features, including the new customizable start screen, to existing handsets.

image credit: The Verge

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11 replies on “Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 to have same core software”

  1. Although more information is needed this is good for developers. With a shared core and native code a Windows 8 developer will be able to easily develop for Windows Phone 8. That is something that was not as easy to do before. Using the same core and native code developers can create applications and games that work the same on Windows Phone 8 as they do on Windows 8. This puts Windows Phone development on par with iOS and perhaps even surpasses it as I don’t believe iOS apps are easily ported to run on OSX (I’m not sure).

  2. This is only good for the user if I can run full blown Windows 8 software on my phone (maybe in a docked scenario) and not the other way around. No point in running phone apps on a notebook or desktop. I hope this doesn’t end up with dumbed down apps for both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 so software vendors can claim that their apps run on all Windows devices.

    1. The way I see it, there’s probably just going to be dumbed down apps for Metro for all versions of Windows. Maybe at least for the first year or more.

      I was excited for Windows on ARM at first but it’s looking like it’s just Microsoft’s version of Android/iOS for large devices. After using an iPad, I don’t see much use in it between a smartphone and ultraportable. Now it just sits in a drawer.

  3. So why are Windows 8 RT and Windows Phone 8 different products? Both OSes run on ARM processors. Both support processors with multiple cores. Both have screens capable of 720p video. Both use the screen for touch input.

    iOS and Android figured out how to run on phones and tablets. Why not Microsoft?

    1. Good point. I think we probably will some a company come out with a Windows RT phone. Windows RT does have Microsoft Office and a standard Windows Desktop built-in in addition to the Metro UI. Making a dockable Windows RT phone/tablet would make sense. I can see a Galaxy Note type Windows RT being a hit.

    2. Neither Android or iOS provide a desktop OS experience. They’re strictly mobile OS.

      Android was even fragmented between tablet and phone usage prior to ICS providing a single version that could work well over both form factors. However, Android still is a limited OS and is why they are still working on providing features like a Webtop/desktop mode and later will provide the option to run Desktop Linux on top of Android.

      Apple could do the same but they want to keep a distinction between their products and are more likely to just port OSX to ARM later.

      So they’re all still evolving and nothing is remotely perfected yet.

      It’s suspected though that Windows Phone 8 will eventually merge with Windows RT, as sharing apps eventually limits the differences to just the UI and that’s looking like it’s mainly just for scaling.

      For now though, Windows RT does distinguish itself in a few ways like the inclusion of MS Office 2013 RT.

      While Windows Phone 8 can also be considered a bridge as it will still support older Windows Phone Apps, which aren’t as easily compatible with Windows RT/8.

      So we’ll see what happens once both products mature a bit and the app ecosystem adapts to the changes they’re starting.

    3. Windows RT still has the desktop, right? There was talk of it not being there then MS said it was but limited. What’s the situation now? What am I losing when going to Windows RT instead of Windows 8? Any new info on how easy devs can create software for both (including desktop apps if that still exists in RT)?

      1. Yes, Windows RT still has a desktop mode but it’s limited to just MS apps like MS Office 2013 RT. 3rd party developers are limited to Metro and have to go through the MS App Store.

        Essentially the same setup as Apple has for its iOS devices.

        Secure Boot also can’t be disabled under ARM but it is possible for alternative OS to work with it by paying the fee to get the license key.

        So far Fedora and Red Hat have indicated they will go that route to ensure they will work on Windows RT devices.

        Windows RT is basically directed mainly at consumers, and it’ll lack many of the Enterprise features the regular Windows 8 release will have. Though side loading apps by the IT department may still be possible.

        This link gives some more specific details for RT, 8, and 8 Pro…

        Windows 8 Enterprise edition should get a few extra features like Windows To Go, for running a copy of Windows off USB, etc.

        1. That’s unfortunate. Looks like I’m opting for a Windows 8 device. Some software I use may or may not get ported to Metro. If I ever get an RT device then it’ll probably be in 1-2 years. I don’t want something that’s just Microsoft’s version of a mobile OS for non-smartphones.

          1. Well, the good news for you is that MS Surface won’t be the only choice and it helps that MS isn’t covering the mid range as they are only releasing the low end Windows RT ARM tablet and the high end Windows 8 Pro Core i5 tablet.

            Though you may prefer the performance of the high end as it can run apps like Photoshop properly, but there will be mid range offerings from other companies.

            The only thing though is most will be 11.6″ and larger sized tablets… At least until next year when some better alternatives come out and then smaller models will become more common.

  4. Now if they can get a phone that will dock and load the metro & desktop UI I would consider that.

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