MICROSOFT Windows has put on a lot of weight over the years.
Beginning as a thin veneer for older software code, it has become an obese monolith built on an ancient frame. Adding features, plugging security holes, fixing bugs, fixing the fixes that never worked properly, all while maintaining compatibility with older software and hardware â€” is there anything Windows doesnâ€™t try to do?
Painfully visible are the inherent design deficiencies of a foundation that was never intended to support such weight. Windows seems to move an inch for every time that Mac OS X or Linux laps it.
The best solution to the multiple woes of Windows is starting over. Completely. Now.
Vista is the equivalent, at a minimum, of Windows version 12 â€” preceded by 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 2000, ME, XP. After six years of development, the longest interval between versions in the previous 22-year history of Windows, and long enough to permit Apple to bring out three new versions of Mac OS X, Vista was introduced to consumers in January 2007. [...]
The internal code name for the next version is â€œWindows 7.â€ The â€œ7â€ refers to nothing in particular, a company spokeswoman says. This version is supposed to arrive in or around early 2010.
Will it be a top-to-bottom rewrite? Last week, Bill Veghte, a Microsoft senior vice president, sent a letter to customers reassuring them there would be minimal changes to Windowsâ€™ essential code. â€œOur approach with Windows 7,â€ he wrote, â€œis to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7.â€
But sticking with that same core architecture is the problem, not the solution. In April, Michael A. Silver and Neil MacDonald, analysts at Gartner, the research firm, presented a talk titled â€œWindows Is Collapsing.â€ Their argument isnâ€™t that Windows will cease to function but that the accumulated complexity, as Microsoft tries to support 20 years of legacies, prevents timely delivery of advances. â€œThe situation is untenable,â€ their joint presentation says. â€œWindows must change radically.â€
Some software engineers within Microsoft seem to be in full agreement, talking in public of work that began in 2003 to design a new operating system from scratch. They believe that problems like security vulnerabilities and system crashes can be fixed only by abandoning system design orthodoxy, formed in the 1960s and â€™70s, that was built into Windows. [...]
In some crucial ways, however, Microsoft would enjoy advantages in developing its own â€œWindows OS X,â€ as we might call it, that Apple did not: the power of todayâ€™s quad-core machines and sophisticated virtualization software would allow older software applications and hardware peripherals to be used indefinitely with little or no performance penalty, making a clean start far easier for customers to accept.
A MONOLITHIC operating system like Windows perpetuates an obsolete design. We donâ€™t need to load up our machines with bloated layers we wonâ€™t use. We need what Mr. Silver and Mr. MacDonald speak of as a â€œjust enoughâ€ operating system. Additional functionality, appropriate to a given task, can be loaded as needed.
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It's a good article - I had to restrain myself from quoting the entire article. This is something I've been saying for a while. It's understandable that Windows keeps backwards compatibility from one version to another - there's a ton of enterprise depending on it. However, this is not sustainable. At some point they need to drop support for programs written for Windows 95 in order to make a truly modern OS. It will be painful when it happens, but with every release that keeps the compatibility it becomes exponentially more painful. One of the best moves that Apple ever made was ditching Classic and moving to OS X.