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Windows, Windows RT and Windows Phone Merging? Microsoft Says Yes

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The days of users having to know the differences between Microsoft’s three different consumer-oriented operating systems could soon be a thing of the past, according to comments made by Microsoft’s own Devices and Studios chief.

Julie Larson-Green, Vice President of Devices and Studios for Microsoft, hinted at the company’s future plans for Windows on stage at the UBS Global Technology Conference this past week. When asked about the relatively fragmented environment in which the company launched Surface last year – Surface devices ship with two different operating systems depending on the device’s targeted market – Larson Green elaborated a bit on why that happened.

“Sure, So Windows RT, I think there’s clearly, when you look out in the industry, there’s clearly a need for a simplified consumer electronics experience on devices. So you look at iPad in particular, and it’s a turnkey, closed ecosystem. It doesn’t degrade over time. It doesn’t get viruses. It’s not as flexible, you can’t do as much with it, but it’s a more seamless experience, even though more simplified.”

After sharing that reasoning, which matches comments Microsoft made in the past, Larson-Green then moved on to exploring the possibilities of Microsoft blurring the line between what Windows, Windows RT and Windows Phone truly are, saying “We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We’re not going to have all three… So we believe in that vision and that direction and we’re continuing down that path.”

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Unfortunately, Larson-Green didn’t announce when users might actually see the fruits of Microsoft’s unified Windows vision. She also didn’t go into any specifics about how a merger of at least two of its operating systems would work. So regardless of plans, Microsoft isn’t yet ready to talk about how it plans to address the issues that stem from offering three different operating systems directly to consumers.

Though Windows, Windows RT and Windows Phone share the same Metro design language and many of the same core technologies, they all offer hugely different core experiences for users. For example, applications purchase in the Windows Phone Store don’t work on Windows RT tablets, and apps downloaded from the internet for use on Windows can’t be installed on a device running Windows RT. It’s an issue that has only gotten worse as Microsoft released newer products for consumers.

Read: Microsoft Confirms Unified Windows Phone and Windows Store?

To their credit, Microsoft’s recent actions indicate that the company recognizes that this is a big issue for its ecosystem. Microsoft unified the developer back-end for the Windows Phone Store and Windows Store earlier this year. Rumors point to a unified Windows Phone and Windows Store arriving sometime over the next year or two.

Travis Pope is a Reporter-at-large for GottaBeMobile. He's currently enjoying a romp in the dangerous quicksand that is Microsoft's Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox ecosystem.

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