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[NYT] Why Windows Needs to Start Over

post #1 of 101
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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 — is there anything Windows doesn’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 — 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 “Windows 7.†The “7†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 Windows’ essential code. “Our approach with Windows 7,†he wrote, “is 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 “Windows Is Collapsing.†Their argument isn’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. “The situation is untenable,†their joint presentation says. “Windows 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 ’70s, that was built into Windows. [...]

In some crucial ways, however, Microsoft would enjoy advantages in developing its own “Windows OS X,†as we might call it, that Apple did not: the power of today’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 don’t need to load up our machines with bloated layers we won’t use. We need what Mr. Silver and Mr. MacDonald speak of as a “just enough†operating system. Additional functionality, appropriate to a given task, can be loaded as needed.
Source [New York Times]
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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.
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post #2 of 101
And if they do that people will complain about incompatibility even years after when everything is compatible with it. Like Vista.
post #3 of 101
vista is great, now just need to optimize it and work on it, restarting the entire kernel would just bring up much more problems
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post #4 of 101
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Originally Posted by carl25 View Post
vista is great, now just need to optimize it and work on it, restarting the entire kernel would just bring up much more problems
Dont get me wrong, im incredibly Pro Vista, but i cant help to disagree with you. The Windows kernel has too much legacy support floating around in it. It cloggs up the system and makes BSOD's more common today. Microsoft does need to re-invent the under-runnings of the system, and re design it for the hardware that we have today.
post #5 of 101
i must agree. that MS should just build it from scratch. yea, i like that there is backward compatability but i find that there is a limit to how long you can keep adding new things on top of old before it just fails.
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post #6 of 101
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Originally Posted by rabidgnome229 View Post
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.
This stuff is SO true, I couldn't agree more.

They really need to create a new OS from scratch, just like they did with NT back in the day. And to keep backwards compatibility, all they need is some virtualization. Make any programs for vista or earlier run in an internal virtual machine. With all these crazy processors coming out, they can EASILY afford to take the performance hit, even for games.

And to make up for the sales that they won't get from people with older (less than dual/quad core) hardware, they can start an update cycle similar to Apple's: Release one big OS once every few years, but maintain frequent smaller updates to it. This will give everyone time to switch to the new system.
Edited by Manyak - 6/29/08 at 10:43pm
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post #7 of 101
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Originally Posted by LegendaryC View Post
And if they do that people will complain about incompatibility even years after when everything is compatible with it. Like Vista.
Yes very true, but this article really makes a good point. I mean backward compatibility is really bloating the coding for Windows. Maybe they should have all of the backward compatibility for the business version of the OS and have the stripped kernel for the home PC users....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pyranite View Post
Dont get me wrong, im incredibly Pro Vista, but i cant help to disagree with you. The Windows kernel has too much legacy support floating around in it. It cloggs up the system and makes BSOD's more common today. Microsoft does need to re-invent the under-runnings of the system, and re design it for the hardware that we have today.
So do you get BSODs in VIsta x64? I haven't had a single one since I switched from XP (used to get BSODs from Creative drivers in XP), and this even includes unstable OCs.

On the other hand I have to consider that Vista was much more stable and fast than XP for me......so maybe building up the same code isn't bad after all. I have to say that I'm sure MS programmers know what they're doing.....
Edited by binormalkilla - 6/29/08 at 10:47pm
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post #8 of 101
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Originally Posted by Manyak View Post
This stuff is SO true, I couldn't agree more.

They really need to create a new OS from scratch, just like they did with NT back in the day. And to keep backwards compatibility, all they need is some virtualization. Make any programs for vista or earlier run in an internal virtual machine. With all these crazy processors coming out, they can EASILY afford to take the performance hit, even for games.
Virtualization doesn't support 3D acceleration, so games are out. That's not the problem with ditching compatibility from MS's perspective, though, its the business users.
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post #9 of 101
Quote:
The internal code name for the next version is “Windows 7.” The “7” refers to nothing in particular, a company spokeswoman says. This version is supposed to arrive in or around early 2010.
Windows 1.0
Windows 2.0
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1
Windows 4.0 = 95, 98, ME
Windows 5.0 = 2000
Windows 5.1 = XP
Windows 6.0 = Vista

I wonder where they got Windows 7 from...
post #10 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by sub_lime View Post
Windows 1.0
Windows 2.0
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1
Windows 4.0 = 95, 98, ME
Windows 5.0 = 2000
Windows 5.1 = XP
Windows 6.0 = Vista

I wonder where they got Windows 7 from...
um. what ?
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