After Microsoft's unveiling of Windows 8 at the D9 conference yesterday, we were a little perplexed. One OS for both PCs and mobile devices? Don't manufacturers make hundreds of different variations with gajillions of different configurations for tablets and PCs? How's it going to work? Microsoft's answer: we'll rule the hardware manufacturers with an iron fist. Okay, that was a bit of a paraphrase, but not much of one if industry reports are any indication.
"From day one we've started engineering these systems with a much closer degree of hardware-software integration than ever, and that integration starts with manufacturing and continues all the way through to the final system configuration," ComputerWorld reports Michael Angiulo, the Microsoft vice president in charge of Windows planning, hardware and ecosystem, as saying yesterday.
Acer's CEO, Jim Wong, sums it up differently. “They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” he told the crowds at Computex earlier this week, a day before the Wall Street Journal ran an article claiming that Microsoft told chip-makers Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to select one hardware manufacturer apiece to work with on Windows tablet development, in order to speed up the process.
"The industry does not belong to Microsoft, and it does not belong to Intel," Wong said. "It belongs to all participants. They cannot make the decision for all of us. That is the problem." Limiting development to certain manufacturers can give those manufacturers a big edge in the ultra-competitive PC market.
We don't know whether it's good for Microsoft to keep Windows 8 close to the chest. Closed development certainly works for Apple, after all, and to be fair, it is their operating system. We can say one thing for certain: Jim Wong's pissed.