Recently I saw a great post on Extreme Tech about the upcoming Windows 10 release and, to put it in my own words, the heart of the problem with both Windows 8.x and Windows 10. Well, one of the problems with the great “Desktop/Tablet Convergence” that Microsoft has been trying to foist on all of us since Windows 8.0. I think that the author of that article, David Cardinal, got at the essential problem with the whole convergence strategy that Microsoft was (and still is) pursuing: the fact that people fundamentally don’t want the convergence that MS is offering.
Now I’ve seen the posts about Windows 10 supporting Android and iOS apps natively. While I’d like to be charitable and assume that MS has decided to actually care about its users rather than its bottom line, I don’t believe that’s happened. I see this instead as a rather cynical ploy to further fragment Android and maybe to start to try to fragment iOS. Given the level of control that Apple exercises over iOS, I doubt Microsoft will get far in fragmenting it. But on the Android side, I can believe they’d have high hopes of fragmenting the platform further. After all they’re backing Cyanogen which is “going to put a bullet through Google’s head“.
The thing is, I’m still not sure who they think is going to build (or even modify) Android or iOS apps for Windows 10. I mean they’ve offered money for developers to build apps for Win Phone and yet the platform still lacks many of the most popular mobile apps. And telling developers that there’s yet another platform for them to test their Android or iOS app on for what’s likely to be a miniscule market share–well I’m sure developers will be lining up to invest in that (not really). Now some of you will read this and say “Miniscule market share? What about all those Windows 7 and 8 boxes which people will upgrade to Windows 10?” And, yes, that’s true. But in terms of the Android and iOS market, Windows 10 will still be a drop in the bucket. I will be shocked if that changes.
I guess, in spite of the fact that I’ve seen it time and again, I’m still surprised that people have such short memories. I can recall the days of DOS when people complained that the interfaces of apps weren’t the same from one app to another. “It should be like a car! Every app should work the same!” they wailed. But what was true then is still true today; when two things serve two fundamentally different objectives, they need different interfaces. By the way, lest anyone think I don’t know my history: when Windows came along some of the superficial UI differences were removed by Microsoft. But they were superficial differences. Tablets serve a fundamentally different purpose than laptops and desktops. Trying to force convergence isn’t going to change the fundamental issue. Cars and forklifts are different if similar machines with different purposes and therefore different affordances.
I just wish someone at Microsoft would realize that trying to force a single OS on us for tablets, gaming consoles and laptop/desktop devices is simply not going to work.