There are probably a lot of you youngsters out there that don't remember one small important step for mankind that Windows took around the time that Intel's 80386 started to dominate the market. Compared to it's 16-bit predecessor (the 80286), the 32-bit "386" enabled a breakthrough known as virtual device drivers or, in Windows parlance, VxDs. What was breakthrough about them? They could be loaded on the fly without requiring a system reboot. To the extent that applications sometimes installed drivers as well, applications soon followed and, for a while there, it seemed as though reboots were no longer necessary. At least with Windows. Your experiences with OS X and Linux may or may not have been the same (feel free to chime in).
Today, as I uninstalled the "old" Beta 2 of Internet Explorer 7 in favor of the new Beta 2 (you can download it here), I was reminded of how I'm back to constantly rebooting my computer after installing and/or uninstalling something. In the case of the new March 20th Beta 2 version of IE7, installing it requires the manual uninstallation of the previous Beta 2 (thankfully, bookmarks are not lost) version which by itself requires a reboot. Then, after installing the new Beta 2 double checks to make sure you're not running a pirated version of Windows, you're asked to restart again. To some extent, IE7 has an excuse. It's beta. But I have found myself rebooting more and more for both simple and complex things (especially Windows updates). Is the mandatory reboot back for good?