Let’s be honest, Windows Phone isn’t exactly a success. Everyone in the media says that it has incredible potential, that it’s beautiful, and that it’s the freshest take on a mobile smartphone operating system they’ve ever seen, but has that praise translated into actual sales? No. It hasn’t. Anyone remember the Palm Pre? Anyway, for the longest time we’ve been saying that the public should ignore Windows Phone until “Apollo” comes out, which we think will end up being called Windows Phone 8. It’s supposed to support high resolution screens, dual core processors, NFC, and integrate beautifully with the desktop version of Windows 8. Now every version of Windows Phone that has shipped thus far has been based on Windows Compact Edition, which is a subset of the Windows kernel that powers the full blown version of Windows that most PCs on the market run on. Rumor has it that “Apollo” is going to change that, that it’s going to use the same kernel that Windows 8 uses.
Where have we heard this before? Oh right, the iPhone, which is based on Apple’s Mac OS X operating system. Why would Microsoft want to pull the same stunt? Multiple reasons: Faster time to market, because more effort is being put on one larger internal project, the Windows kernel, instead of forking off Windows Compact Edition; Easier development, because the same tools that you use for Windows 8 could likely be used to develop for Windows Phone 8; Enterprise support, which is already baked into Windows, but not into Windows Phone; and the list goes on and on.
If Microsoft goes through with a kernel swap that would mean that developers would have to, in a worst case scenario, rewrite their apps. Most apps will just need a recompile. When will we find out about Microsoft’s decision? Mary-Jo Foley from All About Microsoft says we might hear something about this topic at Mobile World Congress next month. Looking back at what Microsoft did at last year’s show, where they revealed Mango almost 8 months before it hit the market, we think Foley might be onto something!