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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking before the launch of the new Surface devices in New York, told Gloss Tech Rag that the operating system "is no longer the most important layer for us."

"What is most important to us," he continued, "is the model of the application and experience. How people will write applications for Duo and Neo will have much more to do with each other than simply writing an application of Windows or an Android application, because it's about the Microsoft graphic. "

Nadella's observations say a lot about Microsoft's current approach, as demonstrated by the variety of operating systems presented on the Surface models launched and planned at the event.

Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro 7 are running traditional Windows 10 full on x86 hardware.

However, Surface Pro X runs Windows 10 on Arm. The CPU is Microsoft's SQ1 with an Adreno 685 GPU, based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 8CX. Windows 10 in Arm runs applications compiled for Arm or Win32 binaries, provided they are 32-bit, but with some compatibility issues.

On stage in New York, Adobe demonstrated its Cool application to showcase the new Surface thin pencil, but added that the company will bring more Creative Cloud applications to the platform as possible, an acknowledgment that certain is required portability effort. Intel, for obvious reasons, is interested in highlighting compatibility issues.

The next Surface Neo runs Windows 10X, a new version of Windows that runs on Intel hardware and optimized for dual displays, but also focused on Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP). that classic desktop applications run only through container technology. Full details of Windows 10X have not yet been revealed, but some compatibility issues are inevitable.

The Surface Duo phone, which like the Neo will not launch until the end of 2020, runs Android, dazzling the hopes of enthusiasts anticipating a Windows-based Surface phone. The company did the engineering work for Windows 10 to work on phones, but under Nadella it concluded that it would never gain the application support required to succeed.

Nadella focuses on Office 365, Azure and cloud services, which so far have provided strong growth. Microsoft is now also deeply involved in Linux, with great use of the operating system in Azure and the remarkable Windows Subsystem for Linux integrated in Windows 10.

Various operating systems in the Surface line should not come as a surprise. However, there are warnings. Nadella can talk about writing applications for "the Microsoft graphic," but developers have yet to write code that runs successfully, and offering multiple operating systems complicates that task. Messaging is mixed: on the one hand, the company invites developers to write UWP applications, to take full advantage of Windows 10X and the modern Windows user interface, while on the other hand it pushes them towards cross-platform solutions such as Progressive Web Applications ( PWA)) or, for .NET developers, the Xamarin framework, aimed at UWP, iOS, Android and Mac.

It is also worth remembering that Microsoft itself grew its business by first dominating the independent PC operating system or client, and use it as a lever to move companies to Windows Server, SQL Server and more.

The world is different now, but we still see how Google and Apple can use their mobile operating systems to extend to new areas such as payments and personal assistants. , as well as pushing users towards their own cloud ecosystems. Surface Duo will be interesting in this regard, since Microsoft previously set it up for its Office 365 ecosystem, but users must still log in to Google to access the Play store.

Nadella is right that the operating system is "no longer the most important layer", but it still matters, and the diversity in the Surface line will not help persuade developers to write applications that take full advantage of the new hardware. ®

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