Untangling Tango

There have been a couple of rumors recently that I wanted to comment on. The first is the confusing signals about Windows Phone Tango. The one that had me head-scratching was that Tango would co-exist with Windows Phone 8. That might be true, but when I think through some of the other rumors around both versions I come to a different conclusion. The main thing Tango will introduce is a new “Starter Edition” that not only is targeted at lower end hardware, it has reduced functionality so Microsoft can charge OEMs less for it. Then as Microsoft releases newer versions, such as WP8, those versions will continue to come in a Starter Edition as well as the full product.

The second is a comment that Microsoft hadn’t yet decided on using the Windows 8 core in Windows Phone. I believe they have, but there is a Plan B. Windows Phone 8 has to ship earlier than Windows 8 because of the longer mobile (carrier trial) cycle. So if Windows 8 itself doesn’t stabilize in time the Windows Phone team has kept their code base working on Windows CE as a backup strategy and will ship that. But this indecision can’t last much longer.

Hopefully this will all be clearer after MWC.

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8 Responses to Untangling Tango

  1. Considering that Tango is targeted at the low-end market, it is reasonable to think that it would co-exist with WP8 (assuming that WP8 is based on MinWin).

    No matter how much MinWin has been optimized, it is unlikely that it can match the performance of Windows CE on cheap hardware. So, to properly cater for that market, it would make sense to keep Tango alive.

    In a way, it will be like the co-existence between Windows on x86 and Windows on ARM.

    • halberenson says:

      Except Microsoft hates the multiple kernels, and it really complicates long-term development and test.

      • Sure, but they have had to live with multiple kernels for years; so they can continue to do so if it is necessary. Considering the size of the low-end market, I think it is worth it.

        By the way, if they did keep WP8 compatible with Windows CE (the high level layer), then it will require less work to maintain. In the long-term, the “Tango successors” will be WP8+ on Windows CE.

  2. everything else is going to the single underlying platform – Azure, Xbox etc. Courier tried to multiply incompatible platforms and got shot to pieces. So while I’m not convinced about going to an NT kernel for WP, I can see that it’s the direction Microsoft is taking everywhere

  3. Jim P says:

    If MS starts selling a starter edition of Windows Phone, does that mean users will be able to upgrade to the full version?

    • halberenson says:

      Doubtful. The business and technology model for Smartphones is totally different than for PCs. On the technology front in the PC world Microsoft, Intel, and others worked together to define standards that all PCs must meet (BIOS, ACPI, etc.) and thus a distribution of Windows will run on any PC. Sometimes you install drivers after the fact, but even if you need a new one such as a display driver the PC will still operate in VGA mode using Microsoft’s distribution. In the Smartphone (and ARM-based world in general) those standards don’t fully exist and you need a Board Support Package (BSP) for each individual device. Microsoft’s chassis spec does allow them to have a partial general BSP, but the OEM still has to do some custom driver work etc. for their device. Essentially Microsoft can’t just have a Windows Phone distribution that anyone can install. On the business front this adds to a model where they only sell to OEMs, there is no end-user Windows Phone product. Thus a “Starter Edition” is just a means to enabling low-end phones, and neither Microsoft nor the OEM really have an incentive to give you a way to upgrade to the full version. If you want the full version don’t buy an entry level phone.

      • Avijit says:

        Jon,Have to disagree with you on this. In fact, most of the post. I feel that you haven’t rlaley used Mac OS X before (I could be wrong), otherwise you wouldn’t have such perceptions. I am a programmer, have been a programmer all of my career. I used PC for most of the time until 3 4 years back when I switched over to OS X. The OS X is a much better programmer’s OS in most aspects. The only thing I missed were Visio and MS Project and neither were rlaley programmer tools, and I have found better replacements for them. About 6 years ago when I attended JavaOne event in SF (and was still very much a PC guy), I was amazed that almost 1 out of 3 programmers attending the event ran on OS X (I kept count of people who had laptops out). When I was in Yahoo running an engineering team, almost 100% of my team (mostly programmers) were on OS X. You could say it is specific to my team, but I was in Sunnyvale, London and Bangalore offices and more than 50% of the engineering people I met were using OS X as well. Maybe it’s Yahoo, but then half my programmer friends (not from Yahoo) use OS X as well. Was it vanity, Apple branding magic at work? I don’t think so, I think it’s just a better programmer’s OS. Perhaps it’s a specific developer environment that attracted programmers to OS X, maybe other types of computer enthusiasts do prefer PCs like you say but I don’t see any concrete evidence of this. On the other hand at least for programmers like me (maybe it’s the platforms I use?) I see people everywhere using OS X (where people are not using OS X I see people using Linux variants). So for me it’s cold hard evidence win for OS X.BTW I disagree with your other points on flexibility, customizable, total control etc but I suppose someone else would give you a nice refute somewhere along this thread. Just wanted to share my own experience.

    • Gaku says:

      Mini, it’s never to offend, but I have to throw down the neuntl vision flag here.Windows 7 is without even thinking waaay better than Vista. Faster HDD access times, slightly lower memory use, APIs are a bit zippier so applications run more smoothly…But it still stops there.Microsoft is still forcing Vista down peoples’ throats with the release of Windows 7 by making them only see it as compared to Vista.When most are still content with and holding onto XP, the comparison falls flat on its face. Windows 7 clocks in at least three times the resource usage as XP.Knowing that, explain to me the marketing strategy behind convincing people to pay (lots of!!) money to have a slower computer?Anyway, I don’t want this all to go in the garbage. A step in the right direction is exactly that and I would like to see it continue.But you have to do something about that neuntl vision:Microsoft continues to intentionally ignore their competition.In case you’ve forgotten, there are many other things out there to boot my PC regardless of whether its x86, x64 or ARM.If the web browser is your benchmark, chromium is running well on Linux and after a quick few boots either way, my “google street view” is way faster under a unix based system than an MS one.(Cue the un-technical army of enthusiasts to pile up on the speed & performance defense, that never gets old!)I want to see less desperate marketing from Microsoft and more honesty.Windows 7 is good enough that I’ll continue to use my copy of Ultimate from time to time to make sure I’m up to date and test on IE…

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