Is Microsoft planning something really big? My Magic 8-Ball says, "Signs point to yes." (It might also say, "Reply hazy, try again" -- the little window is really smudged.) Exactly what the Redmond reprobates have in store, though, is anyone's guess.
Let's start with This Is My Next, the new Not-Engadget-but-an-Amazingly-Lifelike-Facsimile launched by Joshua Topolsky and staffed almost entirely by former Engadgeteers, where blogger Nilay Patel asks, "Is Windows dead?"
[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Details of Microsoft's next desktop OS are starting to slip out, but Cringely wonders if anyone will still care by the time Windows 8 ships. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]
Answer: No, silly. It's always smelled like that.
The reason Patel asked about Windows' apparent rigor mortis is due to comments made earlier this week by Andrew Lees, president of the Windows Phone Division, at Microsoft's Worldwide Partnership confab. The money quote here revolves around the phrase "unified ecosystem." To wit:
... the change that's yet to happen, but it's about to happen ... is the bringing together of these devices into a unified ecosystem, because at the core of the device itself it's possible to be common across phones, PCs, and TVs, and even other things, because the price drops dramatically. Then it will be a single ecosystem. We won't have an ecosystem for PCs, and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They'll all come together.
Patel seems to think this means Microsoft will be ditching Windows entirely. But Lees could well mean the opposite -- that Microsoft will be ditching all its other OSes, including the one powering the Xbox 360 -- for some variant of Windows. That would be absolutely consistent with the vision espoused by Bill Gates since he was only a millionaire in knee pants -- utterly brain dead, but consistent.