Windows ME is not exactly remembered as the greatest version of Windows ever made. When this version comes to mind those who use it likely remember countless bugs, errors, and a dying DOS-based kernel that was just begging to retire.
I talked about how some people on the web have likened Windows 8 to ME, even though Windows 8 isn’t even finished yet and so there is no real comparable aspect at all. I actually have done a bit of thinking and somewhat feel that Windows Phone 7 (and likely 8), have more in common with ME, actually.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Phone 7 is a horrible buggy mess like ME was, although when Phone came out it wasn’t without its big problems. Let’s just take a step back and think about what Windows ME was, besides awful (though I do know some people who actually enjoyed it).
Windows ME was an operating system written at a time when Microsoft was already working on replacing it with Windows XP.
This essentially means that Windows ME was designed as a stop-gap between Windows 98SE and XP, that still used the dying Win95 kernel but had several interface features that it borrowed from the NT-based Windows 2000 Pro (which is essentially almost identical to XP, although XP has a new interface and a few other features).
Microsoft knew that the time was up for the Win95 kernel but for whatever reason, they decided to make a last version that borrowed some more modernized Win2k elements and give it a final hurrah.
So what does this have to do with Windows Phone 7? Well basically, Windows CE is in a similar stage as Win95 was all those years ago. It’s purpose is starting to fade away and Windows V.Next (embedded) is based on NT and honestly just as flexible as CE, and now that Windows NT is getting ARM support in Windows 8, it seems less relevant to keep it going for phones as well.
I honestly think it is possible that Windows Phone 7 is similar to ME that it was dressed up with some more modernized features as a stop-gap, but that in the grand scheme it will be phased out. Will this happen in Windows Phone 8? Honestly, it certainly doesn’t seem like it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if by Windows 9 these two technologies finally merge.
I know you might be thinking, “but Windows Phone has a NEW interface, it isn’t borrowed from NT.” This is true, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if Microsoft hadn’t planned on bringing this interface to NT even before the release of Phone 7. In a similar way, NT was around for many years before the core ever came to the home-base operating system versions.
Keep in mind that this is pure speculation and the musings of a techie, and nothing more. I have no insider source that tells me Windows 9 will see the death of CE (at least on the phone front), but it just makes sense. Of course many thought Phone 8 would bring about the switch to an NT core, and now this seems unlikely.
So why wait until Windows 9? It could be so they can test the waters with Metro and with the tablet market before making such a vast change. Once the CE core is switched out, it would be hard to return to the old core. Now just because Phone 9 would use the NT core doesn’t necessary mean that it would use the same OS.
There could be UI differences and tweaks that make Win9 more suitable for larger devices like PCs and tablets, and Windows Phone 9 could likely stay just a handset-focused version. Bringing the core together will make it easier to have apps interchangeable, which sounds like a win-win to me.
Of course, even now it is believed that converting apps from Metro to Phone, and visa versa isn’t going to be too difficult.
Do you think that Windows Phone is going to play a similar role as a stop-gap that Windows ME (unsuccessfully) played for Windows 98SE and XP? Is this comparison even fair? Share your thoughts below.