There’s a rumor that Microsoft has a plan to merge Windows Phone and Windows RT over the next several years.
Microsoft insider MSFTnerd claims that the new executive vice president of operating systems, Terry Myerson, has decided to slowly merge Windows RT and Windows Phone over the next two years. This will supposedly be accomplished by releasing three regular General Distribution Release (GDR) updates per year. Based on recent rumors, the move may actually begin this spring with the release of the new storefront merging Windows Phone with Windows 8.
Hints of a Windows Phone/RT merge appeared this time last month. A source named WZOR claimed that the company has mentioned this several times in the past, but didn’t provide any additional details regarding merger plans. Instead, the source talked about Microsoft’s supposed rollout plan of Windows 9 and Windows 10, with the latter being completely different than Windows 9 and the current release. Whether these OS releases are merely Windows 8.2 and 8.3 is unknown at this point.
Talk of the Phone/RT merge appeared again after a Microsoft financial analyst meeting with Terry Myserson, Julie Larson-Green, Kirill Tatarinov, Qi Lu and Satya Nadella. Myserson stated that phones would extend into tablets, hinting that the two ARM-based platforms would eventually become one. Later on, he also said the Windows team was shooting for one silicon interface, one set of APIs, one cloud service and one storefront, but individualized experiences for each form factor.
“Our team is now organized in this way,” Myerson said. “We [have] a core team that will bring those silicon interfaces together, bring those developer platforms together, and approach delivery of apps to the customers in a common way. We have one team delivering the core services that will light up our devices. And then we have satellite teams each focused on each of the device categories, so each of them can be reflective of what the customer expects in that place.”
Both Windows RT and Windows Phone are expected to receive a major update in the spring, AKA Spring 2014 GDR on the Windows RT front and GDR3 on the Windows Phone front. Also slated to arrive in this time period is the Surface Mini tablet, the Surface 2 LTE tablet, Modern UI apps for Office, and the new Windows Store. This will be the biggest Windows Phone 8 update since the platform rolled out in Fall 2012.
Meanwhile Microsoft’s long-awaited Windows Phone 8 GDR3 (General Distribution Release 3) update changelog has been revealed along with details about Nokia’s Bittersweet shimmer firmware, if a recent report is to be believed.
The leak comes from a tipster, Nawzil, as reported by Windows Phone Central. The leak notes Microsoft and Nokia would respectively be further detailing the rumoured Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update and ‘Bittersweet shimmer’ firmware later this month at Nokia’s October 22 event in Abu Dhabi.
The leaked changelog lists some alleged new features of the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update, including support for full-HD (1080p) display for Windows Phones; support for new processors (precisely quad-core); screen resolution of at least WXGA (768×1280) with 6 small and 3 medium on a row for Windows Phones that would include the Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 928, Lumia 1020 and yet to be officially announced Lumia 1520.
Other GDR3 update features allegedly revealed include custom notification tones for message, voicemail, email and reminders; screen rotation lock; ‘Driving mode’ which would turn off notifications except texts and phone calls when driving, and the attachment of Office files to email which would include doc, .xls, .ppt and .pdf. The site also mentions that the leaked changlong does not include all the additions expected in the Windows Phone GDR3 update.
The site has also revealed the expected features of Nokia’s ‘Bittersweet shimmer’ firmware update, such as Glance Screen (will show notifications in Glance Screen similar to that on lock screen), and new Nokia apps like Nokia Camera and Storyteller, which had leaked recently. The Storyteller app is expected to be a photo-centric app that would allow users to manage and browse through images by timeline, favourites and shared filters.
While Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 Amber update was rolled out not too long ago, the company seems all set to launch the long-awaited GDR3 update also.