Microsoft out of the window?
Microsoft out of the window?
Sometimes I feel more cyborg than human after twelve hours slumped in front of this screen. Am I alone? With the internet doing all my thinking for me, my fading laptop keyboard and beleaguered mouse tapping and clicking away like autonomous extensions of an increasingly bedraggled sedentary body mass, my adopted electrical brain still insists on continually bleating: “Windows has encountered a problem…” And yet unfathomably this all remains somewhat acceptable. It’s just how it is. All of which makes me wonder if my blinking reaction to this week’s news of Microsoft’s leaked future plans for its operating system are typical or skewed by my tragic computer dependence.
Internal Microsoft documents which somehow fell into the hands of editors at Software Development Times revealed plans for a new modular operation system project codenamed Midori. According to the leaked information, the new OS would be developed from the ground up to be internet-centric, service-oriented, and geared towards highly connected users, distributed computing, shared resources and mixed environments.
Looking for positives, I’d say that re-engineering something so pretty but fatally flawed as Vista as soon as possible could only be ‘a good thing’. No matter how much processor power, memory or patching I throw at the thing, it remains horribly slow and clunky, riddled with error messages and incompatibilities, and bizarrely deskbound in a tech world long dominated by connectivity and internet content. On the downside, each time Microsoft decides to revamp its operating system, I find it an enormous upheaval that also usually results in me wanting other revamped things too – like new laptops, service providers, desks, a house…
Perhaps it’s not surprising in a way. Like many people I plug myself in – literally I guess taking into account my headset – every weekday morning after coffee, and apart from necessary ‘bio-breaks’ I’m still there or thereabouts until bedtime. It’s only natural then that this sudden news of my 17-inch widescreen immersive world changing – perhaps radically, perhaps disappointingly – is a little daunting. How will all my other hardware and software bits and bobs react? Will we all still get along?
Moreover, if Microsoft does go ahead with its roadmap of OS alterations, does this mean we will all have to shell out a hundred pounds or more for upgrades or standalone installations every few years (or worse if we all get tetchy and buy new pre-installed laptops)?
Discussing this in my office this morning, one of my colleagues chipped in helpfully with: “Linux! Linux! Linux! Linux!” A compelling argument well put, but a call I’ve resisted to date. I’ve flirted with dual-boot a couple of times, but deep down although I proclaim to hate Microsoft on an almost hourly basis, I do ultimately trust it more than any other OS manufacturer to hook-up easily with my array of peripherals and support all the various software tools and doodads I now have hanging around on my home network.
Although it has just about managed to skirt on the legal side of monopoly, any layman will tell you that Microsoft does, really, actually, utterly dominate the operating system space in any sense that is meaningful. Fortunately, its desire and stated intent to move away from its deskbound comfort space into wider web waters will certainly put it up against more formidable competition than Linux can currently provide, notably in the shape of Google, but inevitably also with myriad newcomers and upstarts eager to show off innovation and grab a slice of Microsoft’s pie.
At this stage, news of Microsoft’s Midori research project roadmap all pretty much stems from those leaked internal documents. It will prove useful to the market as a whole, as analysts and developers gauge public reaction through online discussion. The problem as I see it over the longer term will be the sheer diversity of those reactions.
How blind is loyalty to Microsoft, despite the heartache and tribulation it frequently puts its users through? Will this news boost or deflate the Linux and open source community? Where does this leave Apple and its pile of pleasing gadgets in terms of OS provision? Can Google really win hearts and minds in the operating system world as easily as it has won eyes online? Is Microsoft being remarkably astute in laying out its plans for a more flexible internet based platform this far ahead of realisation, or is it playing in to the hands of its rivals? Should I budget for a new laptop, or simply get out more?
Please chip in with your own thoughts – I’m sure to be online somewhere to read them – Vista permitting.