Introducing Project Rome, a 'personal operating system' across all forms, all OS

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Only Microsoft could come up with the concept (and terminology!) of a virtual, 'personal operating system', but that's just what has been launched in Project Rome, with some quotes below. Think of the technical hurdles imposed by incompatible file systems, applications or hardware - these have lessened over the years, but Project Rome hopes to eliminate them completely, letting users wander seamlessly ('fluidly') around their data and tasks on multiple form factors without worrying about the technical details. 

Here are some relevant quotes from the full Project Rome launch article:

Recently there has been a dramatic shift in the way users use their devices. Rather than substituting new devices, users are using additional form factors like phones and tablets, alongside their PCs; many consumers live in a heterogeneous environment (interact with multiple platforms). In the past, form factor drove distinct types of behavior differences among consumers. However, this is no longer the case as multi-device consumers conduct all their activities across all their devices. Consumers also want to be able to use whatever screen is available independent of where the input comes from.

As users purchase more apps and devices, they naturally expect their lives to become better – simpler, more enjoyable, more productive. However, suddenly, these users are faced with some harsh realities where each device has a clear boundary and to communicate these devices require unnatural actions such as sending oneself an email or using USB sticks.

In addition, as users move between their devices, sometimes important “tasks” get lost because of this context switching. Developers suffer due to all this context switching as well since the developers lose the user engagement as their users switch between devices and apps.

For users, using these sets of devices seamlessly and productively across this heterogeneous ecosystem is complex. As a result, users see friction when moving between their devices. Project Rome aims to solve this complexity and friction by furthering the Microsoft vision of mobility of experiences across the user’s devices.

Microsoft’s vision of mobility of experiences is to create fluidity; moving wherever the user might go, enhancing the experience without being in the way. Mobility of experiences spans a broad range of areas: new hardware form factors, intelligent assistance and many more. Within that broad range, Project Rome is intended to help deliver fundamental advances, in a way that accrues value across all the other areas

All of which reads well, though is somewhat nebulous in terms of grasping what's actually needed at a development level. Thankfully the article goes on:

Project Rome consists of:

  • programming model delivered as APIs for Windows, Android, iOS, and Microsoft Graph, enabling client and cloud apps to build experiences using the Project Rome capabilities.
  • A set of infrastructure services in the Microsoft cloud for Windows-based, and cross-platform devices.
  • device runtime for connecting and integrating Windows-based and cross-platform devices to the Project Rome infrastructure services.

Our vision with Project Rome is to deliver a personal operating system that is not tied to a device or a platform. Imagine that you or your users live in a world where it does not matter what device, platform or form factor you are on, and the task or the project you are working on can happen regardless of the form factor.

Even here there are some aspects which are hard to grasp. 'Microsoft Graph', for example:

Microsoft Graph exposes multiple APIs from Microsoft cloud services through a single endpoint: Microsoft Graph simplifies queries that would otherwise be more complex. Microsoft Graph is great benefit to developers, since developers can use a single Microsoft Graph endpoint to access Microsoft data rather than having to call different endpoints, and thus having to deal with multiple auth and data formats.

Microsoft Graph

You can read the whole piece here. There's lots more on the high level plumbing needed to make all this work.

Interesting stuff, even if an awful lot of it is ultimately aimed at developers and end users will just see things getting easier in day to day use.

Source / Credit: Windows blog