Windows v.next: less lame than ever

Windows v.next: less lame than ever

Summary: Storage Bits speaks and Microsoft listensRight.In Why is Vista lame?

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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Storage Bits speaks and Microsoft listens Right.

In Why is Vista lame? I discussed why a 5 year development cycle killed Vista:

Vista's 5 year development cycle is the problem Microsoft needs to get back to 24 month development cycles. There is really no choice. No one can predict what the customer hot buttons will be in 60 months, or what Google, Apple, Linux or the European Union will have done.

I'm not the only one who thought so.

Microsoft's VP of Windows v.next development agrees In this morning's New York Times, John Markoff writes (irritating registration required)

In the battle between Apple and Microsoft, Bertrand Serlet and Steven Sinofsky are the field generals in charge of competing efforts to ensure that the PC's basic software stays relevant in an increasingly Web-centered world.

The two men are marshaling their software engineers for the next encounter, sometime in 2009, when a new generation of Macintosh and Windows operating systems is due. Their challenge will be to avoid refighting the last war — and to prevent finding themselves outflanked by new competitors.

I don't buy the whole PC OS fading to irrelevance schtick It is encouraging that Steven Sinofsky, the Microsoft SVP for the Windows and Windows Live engineering group, wants the next version out in two years. It means a more focused product and less wasted effort. Corporate IT will hate it, but IT managers hate anything new.

In fact, the best way to get IT to upgrade to Vista is to introduce its successor. Bwa-ha-ha!

Will web services kill the desktop/laptop OS? No.

For two reasons:

  • Stripped to its essentials, this is the old argument between thin clients and fat clients. Last time I checked the score on that was about 750 to 1.
  • The "why" of it is this: people like predictability. A lot. Web-services are and will remain, inherently less predictable. Network latency, demand peaks, network quality all conspire against predictability. There is no easy way around that truth.

Windows will be effectively modularized I doubt they'll call it that, but as the article notes, Microsoft needs a way to make incremental component improvements without the hassle of a major service pack release. The downside for Microsoft is that it requires them to develop and adhere to - let's call them module APIs for lack of a better term - which will make it easier for third parties to develop competitive products that Microsoft won't be able to shut down with a couple of code tweaks.

I think that's good for Microsoft, but they are control freaks and won't like it. Too bad.

What about all that multi-core stuff? There's some chatter about adapting Windows v.next to run on dozens of cores. It sounds sexy, but the real benefit to users is getting applications to run on dozens of cores. If you are spending so much time in the OS that you notice the difference between 8 cores and 24, you need to examine your workflow.

The Storage Bits take Microsoft can never take another 5-6 years on a major Windows release and they know it. If they get their game on it will help keep everyone on their toes, which is good for every computer user. They have the people and the resources to lead. With shorter development cycles they'll actually be able to.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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4 comments
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  • Agreed, but....

    24 month cycle? Do you seriously think people will buy a new version of office or windows every 24 months? Not corporate clients, that's for sure.

    And home users... not unless the new version has some really cool feature that is "must have".

    Microsoft is on thin ice in this area because of their record of purposely holding back features from releases. (Ex. Take windows 2000 workstation, use NTswitch.exe to change the registry to 2000 server. Add windows 2000 terminal services from a server disk to it, and use NTswitch to turn it back into a workstation -- what do you have? WindowsXP style remote desktop access running on windows 2000!)

    With a 24 month cycle I think people will very quickly get jaded when it comes to the "features" being promoted in the newer version.
    croberts
  • but a habit is stronger

    The problem is, Microsoft is extremely set in its ways. After all, they [b]work[/b] -- those ways are, as behavioral psychologists put it, "reinforced." Please see recent statements from MS management on how MSWinVista was worth every second it took.

    On the other hand, changing habits requires enormous motivation. Just "we could do better" isn't nearly enough to overcome an entrenched habit that's been reinforced for organizational generations.

    See Peter S. Beagle's [url=http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/org/swil/FILKS/filkbook4.html]fine song[/url], "When I Was A Young Man."
    Yagotta B. Kidding
  • I Think Microsofts Days Are Waning...

    I believe they have become to big and cumbersome to be really effective, and will
    stay reactionary.

    I too believe that they cannot ever take another 5-6 years to deliver product. I
    just don't know what feature they will deliver that business wants, or needs.

    Most every business I know with over a few dozen computers are still on Windows
    2000. Why are they still on Win2K? It suits all needs and there is no good reason
    to upgrade.

    Microsoft needs to really offer something truly compelling which does not cost a
    fortune in hidden costs and licensing, and which adds real Value To Your
    Business. So far I have seen nothing that cannot be done better and more
    efficeintly with open source or other software.
    IAHawkeye
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