It seems that ‘Windows Live’ is not the only name being dropped from Microsoft’s product stable, but ‘Hubs’ is also going to join the ranks of discarded names.
Steven Sinofsky’s detailed post on Cloud Services in Building Windows 8 blog, reveals something more than what meets the eye. Here is the table from that post that gives the breakdown of software and services in the new world of Windows 8.
Under the column of Windows Phone, you see that docs, contacts, messaging & photos will be governed by Office app, People app, Messaging app and Photos app respectively. But you will remember that at the launch of WP7, Microsoft put forth the concept of apps and hubs wherein Office, People, Pictures & Music were christened as Hubs while Phone, Calendar, Camera and several others were called Apps. Later, with the release of WP7.5 (Mango), the Messaging App was also upgraded to a Hub when it added Facebook Chat to its repertoire. However, now it seems that they are reverting back to being apps.
This could be just an oversight by Chris Jones, VP of Windows Live, who actually wrote the article in Steven Sinofsky’s post. But if it is not a typo, then there could be a possible explanation to this. The concept of hubs was introduced in Windows Phones to highlight how some applications/services would work in an integrated manner as opposed to stand alone apps in iOS/Android. Hubs were those apps which cloud sourced content from different locations/services and presented it in a seamless panoramic layout for the user. Later, related 3rd party apps were also integrated with these hubs giving a consistent and coherent experience. Now Microsoft has taken this concept forward and with the extensive roll out of cloud services across platforms, devices and the web, almost all (erstwhile)Windows Live services are going to behave like hubs. This breaking down of distinction between apps and hubs could be a reason for Microsoft to drop the moniker ‘Hub’ and go with the simpler ‘App’. Another reason could be that since ‘Hub’ did not really attract much interest and attention, it is being discarded. There is no doubt though, that the services will continue to work in an integrated manner.
This is not the only hidden nugget in the table. Do you notice how the table is described as the new world of Windows 8, and Windows Phone is included in that world? Furthermore, Windows 8 is mentioned by its version number yet Windows Phone is mentioned in a detached and neutral manner, completely ignoring the version (present or future). Could it be an indication that Microsoft is working towards demystifying the version number for Windows Phone? Or could it be that there will eventually be 4 editions of Windows 8 – Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT and Windows Phone. That would be very very interesting, even if seemingly improbable at this stage.
What do you think about it?