Tim Cook, Apple CEO, has said in a recent interview that he believes desktop and mobile operating systems should be separate:
We don’t believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile … We think it subtracts from both, and you don’t get the best experience from either. We’re very much focused on two.
… and I have to believe this too. I can understand from a cost reduction point of view that if you’re developing a mobile OS for phones/tablets and also a desktop OS at the same time, the attraction of merging your development efforts to a single product would be attractive to reduce development costs from shared assets, smaller development team, combined testing efforts etc.
The problem with this approach that Cook mentions, is that a mobile device compared to a desktop (or even laptop device) are such radically different user experiences, that any attempt to combine the two to a single common product is going to be a compromise that is going to impact the ability to capitalize on the key features that differentiate a mobile device from a desktop device and vice versa.
I’ve thought this for a while now seeing Microsoft, in my opinion, struggle to find the right balance of common features across device types with Windows 8 and now Windows 10. And yet, haven’t they already been down this path before with Windows Mobile on smart phones back in the early to mid 2000s? Anyone rememeber trying to use the Start menu on a phone in the early 2000s with a stylus? It was a terrible user experience – worked well on the desktop with a mouse, but translated very pooly to a small screen either touch or pen based. But, Microsoft believes they can still get this right. Uhuh. Call us when you’ve got something worth looking at.