Windows 8: A page out of Windows 95’s book

You have to remember that Microsoft is HUGE! They are under extreme scrutiny. Because of this, they move with baby steps…

When the first Xbox shipped a friend of mine told me how Microsoft is getting creamed in the market by the Playstation 2. How the Xbox was such a failure. I listen to him going on and on and then I smirked and told him this: “The Xbox is the only device connected to the internet and your TV. It is not about the games, it is about where the Xbox is located. It is in your living room, connected to your TV! Microsoft has taken the first step towards its future, delivering your entertainment live to you, via its network and proprietary technology to your TV via their set-top box.” He laughed at me….called me crazy.

Well, we are half way through this console cycle allegedly…am I still crazy?

Here I am typing this post in Windows 7 RC 64bit and I am thinking again. Thinking of all the beta testers moaning about how different this release cycle has been from times of old. One Beta, one RC, little to no time to sent Microsoft feedback, to impact the development. Yes, they are right, this is a very different Windows release, but why are they surprised?

Let’s see: New head of Windows development, check. New Chief Architect, check. New CEO, check. People are surprised that things are different? Why?

There are two clues inside Windows 7 that tells us a little about Windows 8 and beyond…

IE 8 is a program again:
Huh? Yes, it is a program again. You see for years Microsoft told the world that IE is a systems component, one with which the operating system could not do without. Then with Windows Vista, Microsoft consolidated the network stack into one. Before then, Internet traffic, network traffic and wireless traffic all had their separate stacks. With Vista, that went out the window. This was the first piece in the unhinging of IE from the OS.

You see the biggest downside of building IE into Windows is the gaping security holes it brought with it. With Vista the goal was security. Best way to do that was to unify the network stack behind a single line of defense. It has broken every wireless driver out there in the process, but it has improved security 100 times. This little move was also the foundation of the decoupling of IE. You see IE 7 had an enhanced protection state under Vista, because under Vista, it was more like a program than a system component. Baby steps…with IE 8 this transition is complete.

A week ago Microsoft told the world plus dog that it is not shipping IE 8 bundled into Windows 7 in Europe…Why, because IE 8 is just a program, one that is free of Windows. One that can be much easier reengineered and updated. One that is no longer tied to the Windows cycle or thinking of old, a program free, a program that once again has the legs to run and catch up to the pack, hell one that can even lead the pack…

Windows XP mode is the most important experiment in the history of software
What is the biggest complaint levelled at Windows? Windows is bloated, a system hog. True, the problem of being everything for everyone and 20 years worth of backwards compatibility. Let’s face it, which is what makes Windows so great, is also its single biggest liability.

Hello Windows XP Mode, only for business this time round, but a massive experiment for something on a far larger scale. If Microsoft pulls this off, it will be the foundation of the solution of the future.

I will bet you top dollar that the systems engineers at Microsoft would love to build a truly new operating system, one designed for the next decade. The problem, they can’t. Say it, backwards compatibility!

What is the biggest roadblock in Windows Vista roll out? Legacy and custom written software that only works in Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6, so, Windows XP mode! For Windows 7, they tell businesses, see, your apps run natively seamless inside Windows 7, because we have build Windows XP right into it. Not just some of it, all of it! It even integrates into your Start menu. Just buy selective Intel processors or any AMD CPU’s and invest in some RAM and Voila! No more need to complain or cling to Windows XP!

But let’s take this as baby step one. What if they blur the lines between Virtual PC and Windows? What if they add DirectX 9 support? Suddenly, they don’t need compatibility modes at all! Suddenly the overhead carried within the OS is much less…Suddenly the idea of the next Windows being truly next generation seems far easier to achieve than previously thought…Suddenly that little move to buy the best Virtual PC vendor out there is no longer about server software and keeping up with the Jones’s …but desktop software and the future of Windows.

You know what? I am sounding crazy again, just as loony as telling a friend that the Xbox is all about delivering entertainment to your living room via the Microsoft device attached to your TV…

So what is my Windows 8 prediction? 64 bit only. Office 2010 is coming in a 64bit version with a reason, it is Microsoft’s cue to let everyone know, it’s time. Make the switch; we are moving our single biggest important piece of software to 64bit. 100% backwards compatibility via Virtualised technology instead of compatibility modes and a next generation Internet Browser, which is not based on IE 8, but brand new technology!

To end this fairy tale…Why the heading; A page out of Windows 95’s book? Well simple, the tag line for Windows 95 was it is all about the platform! Well Windows 7 is the first Operating System in 14 years from Microsoft that shows signs of that old philosophy again. I will venture a guess now and say that Windows 8: IT IS ALL ABOUT THE PLATFORM!


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