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Thread: Microsoft (Decline Of)

Author Image Gerry Patterson. The world's most humble blogger
When in doubt, tell the truth. -- Mark Twain

Now We've Got Windows 7

Chronogical Blog Entries:

Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 21:40:28 +1000

Microsoft are talking seriously about the release of Windows 7. On Tuesday there was a demo of a multi-touch interface that they say will be a core component of Windows 7. The overall impression in the blogosphere is that multi-touch is cool. Having watched the video, I have to agree that the interface seems very impressive. If you haven't seen it, just google for Windows 7 Demo.

Now it may be impressive, but it seems to me to be an application. There are many good reasons why it shouldn't be a part of the Operating System. Microsoft is a major contributor to the long sad history of integrating applications with the OS (where they don't really belong).

The most well known example was the integration of IE with the Windows Operating System. This was done largely to answer the criticism about "bundling", during the Browser Wars. It was Microsoft's way of saying "Hey look! It really is part of the operating system -- See! It's integrated! -- You can't remove it!".

Later versions of IE (version 5 and version 6) were so tightly integrated that you would not have been able to dislodge them with a crowbar.

Over time other components became integrated with the Operating system. Windows media player, a zip/unzip plugin for the file manager (that was probably a hundred times slower than WinZip) and Windows Messenger are some examples of the things that were embedded in Windows.

Microsoft applications like MS Office began to use various undocumented APIs, and anyone who developed anything useful for Windows became very nervous. Remote Access, Remote Console ... they even had a crack at security.

When asked to remove Media player by the European Union, Microsoft gave their standard excuse, namely that "It was part of the operating system". But after some heavy penalties they relented and discovered that it was possible to remove it after all.

Bundling has been the Microsoft modus operandi for almost twenty years. It may work as a business model for securing and entrenching monopoly control, but it does not necessarily deliver a good product.

Integrating so many things with the operating systems can lead to problems with performance. Despite the fact that the individual component (Messenger, Media Player etc) might perform better, the overall performance of the operating system can suffer. It can also increase the number of system crashes. And, in the case of components like browsers, can expose security vulnerabilities.

And if there are three things that Microsoft systems are infamous for it is poor performance, poor stability and poor security. Windows Vista tried to tighten up on security by limiting the number of processes that can run in "privileged mode". But the best attempts at improving security are constantly being undermined by the monopoly business model that aims to integrate everything into the kernel.

If Microsoft had released the multi-touch software as a stand-alone application capable of running on XP, 2000 (and Mac? Linux?), it might have created a bit more excitement. But the attempt to insert yet another MIP guzzling application deep into the guts of the operating system demonstrates that Microsoft still haven't learned their lesson.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Perhaps a few more years of Vista pain will help the message sink in.

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Copyright     2008, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.