Microsoft plans to create a single operating system covering tablets, phones and PCs

The software company has already unified the design language of its operating systems - now it wants developers to build apps for all Windows device at once

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The Independent Tech

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced that the company is looking to create a single operating system that works across the Windows computers, tablets, and smartphones - and the Xbox One.

Speaking at the company’s quarterly earnings, Nadella said Microsoft will “streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system”.

Currently Microsoft’s software is split between Windows Phone for its smartphones, Windows 8 for its computers and Surface hybrid devices and a seperate Xbox One operating system (each of which has its own subsets of versions and updates).

Nadella did not offer any clear plans for how this convergence will take place, but the company will still sell different editions of Windows (such as ‘Pro’ and ‘Home’) while creating a platform that allows developers to one app that works across all devices.

The announcement is a big departure for the company and potentially a game-changing decision for the computing industry as a whole. It will allow Microsoft to launch a single App Store that works across all its devices and further blur the line between tablets and laptops - something the company has been trying to achieve with its Surface devices.

Apple, meanwhile, still maintains a firm division between the operating systems run by its computers and laptops (OS X) and its tablets and smartphones (iOS), although forthcoming ‘Continuity’ features promise greater interaction between devices – eg, letting users answer phone calls to their iPhone on their MacBook.

This trend is sometimes given the rather grandiose name of ‘Convergence’ and although it might represent the future of computing, it’s not an easy trick to pull off. Different computing formats require different sorts of interface and quite often one size does not fit all. Microsoft is continuing to make bold decisions, but it's unclear whether they'll pay off.