Microsoft's Windows 8 app plan: One code base to rule them all

For now, one code base can support all versions of Windows 8 - from Windows Phone 8 to Windows RT - but a recompile is required. Microsoft is looking to fix that.

Microsoft's Windows strategy is a bit hit or miss, with Windows Phone seeming to have a more positive reception than Windows 8 for PCs. But one accomplishment you have to applaud Microsoft for is unifying the platforms.

From Windows Phone to Windows 8 on the desktop, the multiple operating systems all use the same kernel and share a lot of plumbing, like networking and graphics libraries.

The result is that with the 8s, as I call all of the operating systems, and Visual Studio 2012, you can have one code base and generate apps for WP8, Windows RT, 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x86.

But Microsoft wants to go one step further and make one app that works across all platforms, and if you buy it once, it appears on all devices. WMPoweruser spotted a job posting on Microsoft's corporate site. The details are have been taken down, purportedly because the job has been filled. All I can say is that's mighty fast.

The job, "Software Development Engineer in Test – Windows Phone," included the following text:

"We are looking for a highly motivated and technically strong SDET to help our team bring together the Windows Store and Phone development platforms. As a member of our team you will have a variety of responsibilities including designing and automating new tests, adapting existing automation and frameworks to the Phone, and building test framework components that will be used by many teams throughout Windows Phone."

This leaves the possibility of only having to buy apps once for them to appear on your phone, tablet, and PC. This would do wonders for Windows Phone, which is coming along nicely but is still lagging badly in the apps race to Android and iOS.

At the same time, it's a curious plan. I've spoken to a Windows Phone 8 developer who has told me that with one code base he can target every platform with Visual Studio 2012. He just selects the target platforms before doing a build. VS2012 does the rest and he has separate executables.

However, there are two separate stores: one for Windows 8/RT and one for Windows Phone 8. Microsoft is on a real consolidation kick lately, eliminating a lot of redundant offerings and products. Instead of MSN, Live Chat and Skype, it's all built around Skype. Instead of MSN Mail, Hotmail and Live Mail, there is

Of course, there is still that little problem of Windows 8 going over like a lead balloon…

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