June 27, 2017

Windows 10: Speaking of Convergence




Fig. 1 Convergence

Fig. 1 Convergence


Windows 10 will finally bring one thing we have been dreaming all along: One Windows runs on everything. That’s from 80″ Surface Hub to 20″ desktop, to 15″ laptop, to 10″/8″ tablet, to 6″ phablet, to 5″ smartphone, to 0″ IoT and wearables like HoloLens. However, when you look it from different angles, you will find it is not 100% pure one OS runs everywhere. In this post, basing on three of Mary Jo Foley’s articles (here, here, here) and my other readings, I am trying to give a clearer picture of what it is like after OS convergence of Windows 10.

The aforementioned Mary Jo’s articles are dated Nov, July 2014 and Jan. 2015 respectively when Windows 10 were not formally unveiled, but the main contents are still valid.

It’s likely the OS convergence or unification will be the main talk point regarding Windows 10 during the BUILD later this month. From developer’s point view, the convergence is very complete and ideal, thanks to Universal Application Platform (UAP). Because of this UAP layer, which abstracts any difference between Windows variations, now developers write code for UAP regardless device type. So, it will be one code base, one development platform, one binary, one app store, app runs everywhere. Though two things keep in mind: 1. Make your app adaptive to screen sizes and orientations (RelativePanel, SplitView). 2. If use specific device features, like Kinect on Xbox, you have to detect it at runtime.

For general users though, the convergence is not that full and complete. There will still be different flavors (SKUs) of Windows 10 for different kind of devices, and even same kind of devices. Here is the run down.

Review of Surface 3 Reviews, and My Thoughts

Windows 10 Desktop

Targeting x86 PCs, including desktops, laptops, two-in-ones and tablets. Windows 10 Desktop runs both Universal apps, and Win32 programs. Both desktop mode and tablet mode (I call it Metro Mode) are available. Also there is a feature called “Continuum” to auto-switch between two modes based form factor(attach/detach keyboard).


Windows 10 Mobile

Targeting both x86 and ARM architectures, including smartphones, and small tablets (under 8″). There will be no desktop mode. Win32 programs are unlikely to run even you have Intel-based hardware (This is not confirmed).


Windows 10 for IoT

1. Windows 10 Industry – Targeting x86 architecture, including POS, ATM, etc.

2. Windows 10 Compact – Targeting both x86 and ARM, for resource constrained devices. Run universal apps.

3. Windows 10 Micro – Based on “.NET Micro Framework” (a skimmed .NET framework), targeting x86 systems, including wearables.



(Microsoft’s slides put Windows 10 Mobile under Windows 10 for IoT, I question that even though it is from Microsoft)


And, here are some questions I don’t have answer:

1. What is Xbox running on? It is said to run a customized Windows 10, but which one? I don’t know.

2. What is Microsoft Band running on? Microsoft said there is no OS: “It runs on Microsoft’s wearable architecture (firmware), optimized for low-power micro-devices.” But, really? I ask this question because it doesn’t sound creditable, also things can change when Windows 10 is released.

3. What is HoloLens running on? I am pretty sure it is under Windows 10 for IoT, but which one? I tend to believe it is Windows 10 Compact, with some customization.


UAP, HoloLens, Recommended Readings – Developer’s Collection
Some Business Ideas with HoloLens – (19) Holo-Game Room
Why HoloLens Is Not Kinect