During the Build developer’s conference in April, Microsoft is expected to reveal more details of a future version of Windows codenamed Threshold.
Rumours on the web suggest that Threshold could become Windows 9. The OS is set to bring together Windows Phone, Windows 8 and the xBox One operating systems.
Microsoft’s previous attempts at simplifying its various operating systems have had varying degrees of success.
Windows 2000 Workstation and Windows Millenium merged into Windows XP with a single kernel for home and professional users.
On the mobile side, Microsoft attempted to provide a common look and feel with Windows CE, and cross-platform development, but at the time, a desktop-like GUI on a smartphone did not gain acceptance.
With the evolution of the Windows Phone OS, Microsoft introduced a touch UI with tiles, that has made its way onto the Windows 8 OS. This time, however, the touchscreen UI, has not sat very well in the corporate market and home users have generally preferred cheaper Android-powered tablets over Windows 8 powered tablets.
The fact that Microsoft is looking to rebrand Windows RT, its low-end ARM-powered Windows operating system, suggests the company is moving towards a single Windows OS across all devices. Interestingly, the xBox One also runs a version of Windows .
A single core OS would greatly simplify application development and integration. For Microsoft, it would mean core services like Skype, Windows Live and Office 365 would work seamlessly between the xBox One, Windows-powered tablets and smartphones and traditional PCs.
The wider MS ecosystem would benefit – so, in theory, B2C companies could develop services once and target customers across all three platforms.
All will be revealed at Build 2014, but Microsoft has some big changes to make this year, not least, hiring a new CEO to take over from Steve Ballmer.