The future of Windows is unified, but not in the way that you think...
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made some waves during his company's Q4 earnings call (transcript here) earlier this week. "We will streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes," said Nadella when discussing product alignment.
One "converged" OS is partly true, if ZDNet is to be believed (and on Windows, its Mary Jo Foley has a pretty stellar track record).
The convergence that has all the tech world aflutter is more about the underpinnings of Windows than the surface. There is not going to be a single version of Windows, a single box of software you buy for every device you hold dear in your life. There are still going to be multiple SKUs, tailored for specific tasks and devices.
So what did Nadella mean by a "single converged operating system?" The vision is for every version of Windows to run on the same code core, which is something Microsoft has been implementing over the last few years. The Xbox One has a stripped-down version of Windows 8 running, after all. With the same foundation, writing apps and services for all devices running Windows will be a cinch, relatively speaking.
Speaking of apps, the vision extends to the software marketplace as well. We've already touched on Universal Apps, and Nadella's comments tie directly into that concept. Buying an app once, and having the software trickle down to whichever devices you see fit, is the future of app commerce. This also extends to the developer environment, which hasn't quite gotten the universal treatment.
Whatever the plan may be, we will get a clearer picture once Windows 9 ships next year.