[LINK] Windows is 'collapsing,' Gartner analysts warn
brd at iimetro.com.au
Fri Apr 11 19:40:32 EST 2008
Windows is 'collapsing,' Gartner analysts warn
The researchers damn Windows in current form, urge radical changes
Calling the situation "untenable" and describing Windows as
"collapsing," a pair of Gartner analysts this week said Microsoft must
make radical changes to the operating system or risk becoming a has-been.
In a presentation at a Gartner-sponsored conference in Las Vegas,
analysts Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald said Microsoft has not
responded to the market, is overburdened by nearly two decades of legacy
code and decisions and faces serious competition on a whole host of
fronts that will make Windows moot unless the Redmond, Washington
"For Microsoft, its ecosystem and its customers, the situation is
untenable," said Silver and MacDonald in their prepared presentation,
titled "Windows Is Collapsing: How What Comes Next Will Improve."
Among Microsoft's problems, the pair said, is Windows' rapidly-expanding
code base, which makes it virtually impossible to quickly craft a new
version with meaningful changes. That was proved by Vista, they said,
when Microsoft -- frustrated by lack of progress during the five-year
development effort on the new OS -- hit the "reset" button and dropped
back to the more stable code of Windows Server 2003 as the foundation of
"This is a large part of the reason [why] Windows Vista delivered
primarily incremental improvements," they said. In turn, that became one
of the reasons why businesses pushed back Vista deployment plans. "Most
users do not understand the benefits of Windows Vista or do not see
Vista as being better enough than Windows XP to make incurring the cost
and pain of migration worthwhile."
Other analysts, including those at rival Forrester Research, have
pointed out the slow move toward Vista. Last month, Forrester said that
by the end of 2007 only 6.3 percent of the 50,000 enterprise computer
users it surveyed were working with Vista. What gains Vista made during
its first year, added Forrester, appeared to be at the expense of
Windows 2000; Windows XP's share hardly budged.
The monolithic nature of Windows -- although Microsoft talks about
Vista's modularity, Silver and MacDonald said it doesn't go nearly far
enough -- not only makes it tough to deliver a worthwhile upgrade, but
threatens Microsoft in the mid- and long-term.
Users want a smaller Windows that can run on low-priced -- and
low-powered -- hardware, and increasingly, users work with "OS-agnostic
applications," the two analysts said in their presentation. It takes too
long for Microsoft to build the next version, the company's being beaten
by others in the innovation arena and in the future -- perhaps as soon
as the next three years -- it's going to have trouble competing with Web
applications and small, specialized devices.
"Apple introduced its iPhone running OS X, but Microsoft requires a
different product on handhelds because Windows Vista is too large, which
makes application development, support and the user experience all more
difficult," said Silver and MacDonald.
"Windows as we know it must be replaced," they said in their presentation.
Their advice to Microsoft took several forms, but one road they urged
the software giant to take was virtualization. "We envision a very
modular and virtualized world," said the researchers, who spelled out a
future where virtualization -- specifically a hypervisor -- is standard
on client as well as server versions of Windows.
"An OS, in this case Windows, will ride atop the hypervisor, but it will
be much thinner, smaller and modular than it is today. Even the Win32
API set should be a module that can be deployed to maintain support for
traditional Windows applications on some devices, but other[s] may not
have that module installed."
Backward compatibility with older, so-called "legacy" applications,
should also be supported via virtualization. "Backward compatibility is
a losing proposition for Microsoft; while it keeps people locked into
Windows, it also often keeps them from upgrading," said the analysts.
"[But] using built-in virtualization, compatibility modules could be
layered atop Win32, or not, as needed."
Silver and MacDonald also called on Microsoft to make it easier to move
to newer versions of Windows, re-think how the company licenses Windows
and come up with a truly modular operating system that can grow or
shrink as needed.
Microsoft has taken some new steps with Windows, although they don't
necessarily match what the Gartner analysts recommended. For instance,
the company recently granted Windows XP Home a reprieve
<http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;1390038808> from its June
30 OEM cut-off, saying it would let computer makers install the older,
smaller operating system on ultra-cheap laptops through the middle of 2010.
It will also add a hypervisor to Windows -- albeit the server version --
in August, and there are signs that it will launch Windows 7
<http://www.computerworld.com.au/index.php/id;1305023166>, the follow-on
to Vista, late next year rather than early 2010
brd at iimetro.com.au
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