It never fails.
With every release of a Microsoft operating system the dogs of doom and gloom come out in full force baying at the moon about how this and that is all wrong, how Microsoft has screwed the pooch or it just plain sucks. I have seen it happen from Windows 3.11 right through to the newest whipping boy – Vista.
Sure sometimes the bitching has been well intentioned and does lead to improvements, other times though a lot of it is more from our nature to luxuriate in stagnation and what has become comfortable. It is hard for us to step outside of what we perceive as our comfort zone and this is especially true when it comes to our involvement with technology of any kind.
While Vista has never delivered on the promised WOW factor it has on the surface moved us from our comfort zone of XP and other previous Windows versions. So it isn’t surprising that its reception has been exceedingly lukewarm; but I wouldn’t declare it a failure like Don Reisinger of c|net has or consign it to the archives alongside Microsoft Bob.
What I do think though is that Microsoft needs to seriously take some time to reconsider its unfailing belief that operating systems the size and complexity of Vista is the future. Don’t get me wrong – even with its current failings I like Vista and while most of the improvements that Microsoft has done under the hood of Vista don’t get the credit they are due I do believe that the days of bloated operating systems need to be seriously examined.
This is going to take an incredible change in mindset within Microsoft – one I’m not sure if they are ready to take given that the company; not the employees but the company itself, is more interested in maintaining a position of power over innovation. As Hugh MacLeod quoted Hamish Newlands of saying:
Truly disruptive innovation does change the world, but I am not sure where MS is trying that these days. That’s not to say that the company is not clever, motivated, hard-working or whatever, but the goals have not changed significantly for some time.
As long as Microsoft remains committed to this path of bloat and marketing fluff I don’t see anything disruptive on their’s or our horizon. While some of the more forward thinking MS teams may have taken Hugh’s Blue Monster to heart the powers that be are only interested in solidification.
How they are going to break themselves out of this safe harbor of the biggest distribution base of any software I am not sure. Maybe it will take the increasing inroads that Mac and Linux is making or maybe it will be the realization of what Hugh is saying – that it is the relationships not the software that will ensure Microsoft’s dominance forward:
From my own, strictly non-techie perspective, I see Microsoft’s future less in terms of their two big cash cows [Windows and Office], and more in terms of their relationships with their 750,000 partners. These relationships are the Golden Goose, not the commercial bundles of ones & zeroes. The latter just enable the former etc.
Personally here is some of the things I would like to see happen with Windows:
- Next version to strictly support 64bit with legacy support kept to a bare minimum. In conjunction with this extend the life support for XP indefinitely as the 32bit path for Windows. Apple is well known for setting standards of support – hardware and software – for its operating system. This action has never cost them customers and we would benefit with a smaller and faster windows.
- Split Windows into 2; possibly 3, separate entities. 1: Core – this being just the OS with no desktop UI. Even get to the point that the core OS install is nothing more than a commandline process with the minimum of questions. The Vista install shows how simple the install can be. 2: Either have a separate Desktop division or legitimize the 3rd party developer efforts in the Shell community. Whether it be a company like Stardock; with they already have a relationship with in Vista, and their Object Desktop environment or any number of the other shells out there like geoShell, LiteStep or winStep. Linux has proven that this path does work.
We don’t need bloated operating system. In fact I believe that they are becoming more of a detriment on the road forward. Give us a small, fast and secure base from which to build on. Build on the incredible base of 3rd party Windows developers for the tools that sit on top of that; many of whom build better tools than Microsoft does.
I realize that something like this is as about as likely to happen as Microsoft Bob coming back to life but Microsoft is going to have to do something because the native are getting more restless with each passing day. The computing landscape is no longer the same beast that gave birth to Windows but I don’t think that Microsoft has realized that yet; at least not in the boardroom.
It would be nice to see what Hugh says come to pass as we would all win.
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