Doesn’t Windows on Arm eliminate the need for Windows Mobile?

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On this week’s Windows Weekly while on the topic on Microsoft’s foldable device patent Mary Jo Foley asked whether the device would come with WM10 or Windows on Arm. I may be missing something but I assumed Windows on Arm if it comes to fruition would replace Windows Mobile.

My rational is that both WM and WoA would run all the same UWP apps (hence the U) but WoA would have the advantage of being able to run legacy applications as well, even if it is just in a docked situation.

With little demand for WM devices and even less for non continuum capable ones why would Microsoft continue developing WM along side WoA? 

Comments (32)

32 responses to “Doesn’t Windows on Arm eliminate the need for Windows Mobile?”

  1. Avatar

    2585

    MS has already begun the process of slowing/stopping app development targeted for WM.

    The writing was on the wall a long time ago when features and apps were added to the iOS and Play stores before the Windows Store.

    It was on the wall when they signaled that they would skinny hardware development down.

    It was clear when they stopped making and selling Microsoft-developed hardware.

    Now it's clear they have been hard at work on making WoA a reality for some time now, only revealing it last month.

    Not sure what it is going to take with this crowd, but it is a very stubborn 1%.

    The WM platform is dead, has been dead, and has literally been a zombie for nearly two years now.

    • Avatar

      1080

      In reply to jbuccola:

      I agree, WM seems to be in a survival mode with Microsoft holding ground for their next move.

      With less promotion around UWP lately I wonder if Microsoft next move in that area is to bring better mobility to 2 in 1 devices with WoA and encourage developers whose apps are popular on the tablet like devices to convert to UWP.

      It may be that Microsoft's mobile play is in 2 in 1s and tablets and not in phones.

    • Avatar

      5767

      In reply to jbuccola:

      That's because Windows Phone 8 is an old code branch. Windows 10 Mobile is based on Windows OneCore with a phone skin. It doesn't change the fact that phones running Windows 10 Mobile have no market presence. But the new code branch will be easier to maintain and build upon because of OneCore.

    • Avatar

      1377

      In reply to jbuccola:

      Windows RT 8.x was Windows on ARM, it was just configured so that it wouldn't run unsigned desktop software, but it ran bundled desktop applets like Notepad, Wordpad, Char Map, and MSFT's own Office RT. It was likely MSFT would keep up development of desktop-capable Windows on ARM going into Windows 10.

  2. Avatar

    TechnologyTemperance

    I'm guessing there are some point of sale devices, gadgets, etc... from the Fujistu's of the world that run Windows 10 mobile as they are a bit too complex for Windows IOT. So for now it makes sense to continuing developing Win 10 mobile to support those partners (as well as throw a bone to those who bought/continue to buy Lumia 950s). I'm guessing its a pretty small team at this point, so the variety in SKUs (IOT -> Mobile -> Big Windows) will stick around even with the Windows on Arm addition (at least for a while).

  3. Avatar

    5767

    Why would you want the full desktop GUI on a small little phone screen? Of course there is a need for a Windows 10 SKU with a 'phone-like' UI that can present the tiles properly in portrait or landscape mode.

  4. Avatar

    6242

    I think a mobile device that functions like a phone (single screen) and then like a small form tablet (two screens together) will reinvent the mobile space. We have iPads, and iPhone, Surface devices, and windows phones at home. If my wife could have a phone that expanded on the couch or in bed to a larger screen the tablet devices are done and the same for me.

    If a Surface Device emerges like this it will change the game going forward and I expect it to chew into both mobile phone and tablet market share.

     

  5. Avatar

    3229

    Which of these happens first: MSFT releases a version of Windows that runs legacy apps on an ARM processor and gets enough developers of the most popular apps to write UWPs for a mobile form factor, or Google releases a version of Android that works on a lapdock and gets its developers to write apps compatible with that form factor?

    • Avatar

      5767

      In reply to inlocoabsentia:

      The companies that wrote Win32 apps are sometimes not even in business anymore, much less have the money or skill-set to write UWP apps. UWP apps will gain momentum once Microsoft implements the full Office(Word, Excel & Powerpoint) for UWP. I mean the full thing, not the gimped versions they are now.

    • Avatar

      1080

      In reply to inlocoabsentia:

      I think (though I admit I am not very well educated when it comes to android tablets) Google's struggle to grow Android into larger form factors such as tablets is equal to Microsoft's struggles with UWP.

      The future fight seems to be Andromeda, a hardly established development platform with a huge user base potential, against UWP, a many years old platform with a small user base.

  6. Avatar

    1377

    What remains to be seen since no one out in the world has WOA to test is whether battery power usage is significantly greater running desktop/Win32 software. Having a little science and engineering in my college days, I'm a bit skeptical that ARM processors could run any & all desktop/Win32 software compiled for Intel/AMD processors using less power. If WOA battery life running some types of desktop/Win32 software (e.g., FPU-heavy as opposed to GPU-heavy) were half the battery life running only UWP apps, there may still be a need for Windows Mobile unless there were a setting allowing only UWP apps to run.

    Now the cynical perspective: MSFT has accepted it needs to give Windows Mobile licenses away for free. OTOH, MSFT would really like to keep the desktop revenue stream from Windows proper, and I figure they'd also prefer revenue from WOA.

    Reality: Windows phones these days sell as well as smartcars in the US in times of cheap gas; there are NO Windows 10 Mobile tablets for sale, and NONE of the small Windows 10 Mobile tablets announces at CES 2016 (last year) ever made it to market; there are no other devices for which Mobile is more suitable than IoT or proper. There's no reason for Windows 10 Mobile to continue to exist because there are few devices on which it could be useful, and the number of those devices is on the decline.

    • Avatar

      1080

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      If, big if, WoA devices sell well and there is large enough user base for developers to target on these devices the advantage of better battery performance of a UWP app versus a win32 app would be a big way for Microsoft to push UWP.

      • Avatar

        2585

        In reply to Finley:

        How about having a tier 1 console and a unique AR product, along with several hundred million instances of Windows 10? Despite all this, UWP is still stuck in neutral. MS has taken the long - LONG way around and they still haven't arrived at relevance in mobility.

      • Avatar

        1377

        In reply to Finley:

        If UWP saves battery life, wouldn't that also be true running on Intel/AMD processors? That is, couldn't MSFT have already demonstrated that? Problem is that there's likely to be some desktop/Intel software which eats battery life and likely would still eat battery like as UWP/ARM software, probably most statistics programs running large Monte Carlo simulations.

        I don't doubt UWP contact managers or Twitter viewers could be much more power efficient than desktop equivalents, but I'm skeptical UWP is even suitable much less efficient for most workplace quantitative analysis software.

  7. Avatar

    lordbaal1

    These are 2 different things. One is a phone. The other isn't.

  8. Avatar

    8578

    Is it not true that the only currently available WM10 device is a WP? So if we reach the point where there are no Windows Phones they'll be nothing for WM10 to run on. MS could decide to make a phone with Windows on Arm I suppose but I doubt that Win32 apps on a phone would be very useful due to the ergonomics.

  9. Avatar

    9201

    Microsoft keep telling us UWP Apps work on a "One Windows" platform from data centres, Hololens, desktops and phones. So surely its the same deal. But put bluntly only a very tiny minority of users want win32 apps on small devices, because they were not designed for touch.

    Windows Mobile/ARM whatever Microsoft wants to call it this month, has to run Android Apps, if it is to have any relevance to business and consumer base. Sticking with legacy Windows Applications on mobile is as dead as the pocketPC. The only universal Apps, are Xamarin Forms, which run on Android, iOS and Windows. That is where Microsoft are going, by dropping UWP and adopting Xamarin apps development core.

    BTW I am writing this on a Lumia 2520 RT tablet, and my main phone is the Lumia 650.

  10. Avatar

    5496

    Windows RT 2.0.

    I still have a Asus VivoTabRT that I sometimes still use.

    But on a 5, 6 inch screen. Running a full desktop would suck.

    • Avatar

      6242

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      How about running on two 5 or 6 inche screens seamlessly put together? ;-)

    • Avatar

      1080

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      "But on a 5, 6 inch screen. Running a full desktop would suck"

      More chicken and egg scenarios but maybe great WoA tablets would encourage developers to convert desktop apps to UWP. 

      Build the devices the today's mobile workforce need. I said similar statement in other replies on this thread but Microsoft maybe going after the tablet market next.

      "2018 the year of the tablet"

  11. Avatar

    6852

    I'm not an expert, but Windows is basically constructed like this (see article here for more):

    1. Core Windows components (stuff that makes the computer function at a basic level - take input, display to a screen, send information over a network etc.). This is part of every version of Windows.

    2. Components that extend Windows as appropriate for the different platforms. Some are exclusive to one platform, some are shared across multiple platforms. Hyper-V. Inking. Mobile wireless connections. Etc. 

    3. Customizations for individual platforms: the desktop interface, the mobile interface, etc.

    WoA consists of allowing the desktop interface to run on ARM and adding the binary translation stuff that lets us use x86 apps on ARM.

    Windows Mobile refers to a version of Windows that includes a specific stack of features including mobile connections, the phone-style touch interface, the current continuum experience (note this is not the "real" desktop), etc.

    So, the question of "eliminating Windows Mobile" needs to be more specific. They could add the binary translation features to Windows 10 Mobile so that it is feature-equivalent to WoA, but still have a version called Windows Mobile that includes the mobile interface, mobile connectivity components, etc. They could add the mobile features and interface to WoA, which is basically just creating the same product from the other direction. They could stop producing any version of Windows with the mobile interface and components in favor of WoA, which has the desktop experience, but that seems unlikely. They could also continue as-is with the mobile features tied to a version of Windows which can't run x86 apps on ARM. That seems like the worst possible choice and in this sense "Windows Mobile" as it currently exists is probably dead.

    Personally I would imagine the most likely scenario is something where Windows Mobile continues to exist as a product, gains the x86 to ARM binary translation features, but only enables them when you're in a Continuum setup. Another, but I think less likely, possibility would be adding the mobile interface as a sort of Continuum feature in the other direction for WoA devices, e.g. you have a full Windows 10 ARM tablet running the desktop/"tablet mode" interface, but can also press a button to go into "Phone Mode" if you have a smaller (6"-8") device with a data connection etc. All just speculation, though.

    • Avatar

      1080

      In reply to ecumenical:

      I guess my assumption is that they would add the mobile features and interface to WoA with the UI adapting to the screen size i.e. start menu / screen working as it does on WM on smaller devices.

      This would bring Microsoft closer to the One Windows montra.

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