Future of Microsoft Windows

Microsoft Windows Vista isn’t even in the stores yet for us normal folk to buy, and they’ve started working on the next release of Windows codenamed Fuji. Mary Jo Foley speculates that this is only going to be an incremental upgrade to Windows Vista (ala Windows 2000 to XP), and possibly just the first service pack…

Fuji is Windows Vista R2, and may eventually be called Windows Vista Plus, or Vista 2009 or some other crap Microsoft will come up with. However, Microsoft learned its lesson from Vista: the code base is a stinking pile of crap. It took five years for Microsoft to make a comparatively minor upgrade to Windows XP. Okay, so there’s the new security model, Aero a.k.a Windows Presentation Foundation and a few interface upgrades, but this is far less than what you’d expect from Microsoft with 10,000 employees, five years and over $20 billion burning a hole in their pocket.

Since development of Longhorn was announced, we’ve lost WinFS (possibly the one thing that got me excited about Longhorn when it was announced) and PC to PC synchronisation of data, and it hasn’t implemented many wanted features, such as better user account control, a better driver management model, enforced driving signing and many more other security related details.

But the post-Vista Microsoft knows the errors of its ways, it knows that implementing a feature in Vista was too difficult, there were too many people involved on each feature, a chance affected too many other features, and so stifled innovation and frustrated developers and designers. Everything took too long, cost too much and wasn’t implemented well enough.

The next major release of Windows needs to be a complete rewrite, it needs to be redesigned with compatibility as a secondary thought, it needs to concentrate on making Vista + 1 the best operating system ever released. Here are a few free tips:

  • The design needs to be modularised so teams can work on their section of the operating system without the fear of affecting other parts and enable them to roll out small upgrades of Windows without a huge service pack.
  • It learns from it’s Singularity project, and writes as much of the operating system in managed C# code as possible, which leads it to better memory management and stability.
  • It imposes a strict security model that breaks many legacy applications, but fuck them because it’s about time Windows got decent security.
  • It implements enforced driver signing and the driver management model.
  • WinFS is made a real file system instead of an abstraction layer on top of NTFS.
  • It gets real and releases only two version of Windows, one for the home and one for work.

They have five years to do this, if you include the time spent developing Fuji. It’ll be a big shock to everyone, especially for developers who find their applications no-longer work. Not everyone will be happy, and Microsoft will generate a lot of bad press, but they have the money and the monopoly to ride the storm, and its what Windows needs if it wants to have a sustainable future. Its about time the Windows NT 3.1 code base got retired for something a bit more modern.

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