Microsoft's penultimates

When one side gets out a winner, staffing change ultimately leaves the losers at bat

A penultimate version is the second last one - and Microsoft's penultimate operating systems have generally been their best ones.

There was an MS-DOS 4.0 - but it's 3.2 that everyone remembers as the best of the MS-DOS versions.

Windows 4.0 was released to test users and withdrawn, (see The Amazing Windows 4.0 for a satirical review) ultimately to be reincarnated as the first Windows CE releases, largely because most existing customer machines simply couldn't boot the thing.

The penultimate version, however, Windows 3.11, was a big hit and reasonably stable by Microsoft standards.

Windows ME was a disaster - bloated, unstable, and generally disliked even by PC industry reviewers.

Windows 98, however, was such a success that even today I get web hits from people running it.

I suspect that history will see Windows Vista as another ultimate product, with the penultimate Windows 2003/XP as the long term Microsoft standard bearer.

So why?

Look at the history: Microsoft buys or copies something: makes a commercially successful version, starts an internal adaptation and redesign project that becomes a long running feud between deeply committed internal bureaucrats, and when one side gets out a winner staffing change ultimately leaves the losers at bat - and bang, an ultimate product that eventually fails of its own weight.



You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All