Response: By 2010, will Windows 'Seven' (or any desktop OS) really matter?

The following is a discussion between myself and a friend in response to David Berlind's article: By 2010, will Windows 'Seven' (or any desktop OS) really matter?

Assumption: Internet OS implies: Internet, Intranet, and Extranet
"People that are engrossed in technology tend to overestimate the timeliness of the impact that new technology brings to the market. For example, fewer than 40% of the developed world who owns PCs have broadband internet right now and even if they have it they probably don't have it outside of their work or their home - obviously that would have to change dramatically if the world is going to become that dependent on the internet to make their PCs useful. Windows could prove to be the most important OS in a long time because potentially it could become the first OS that makes more use of internet services to improve productivity. People want to be able to use their computers online and offline, on the road and in the office, with and without rich editing capability and many people like the privacy of their own PC - maintaining their own private documents, desktop and settings. I don't really know you have to think that with 6 billion people in the world and only 1 billion on PCs with less than 40% in internet access and even fewer on mobile solutions that the world would have to advance fairly fast in the next two and a half years for Windows to not matter anymore..."
Overestimated timeliness: this is something that started 3 years ago and is here today. Look at the clients Google Premier Apps / SalesForce has built up already. And don't underestimate the headaches involved in managing a hardware infrastructure / licensing agreements in the non-techy enterprise. Enterprise is entrenched in their current technology, but as this tech becomes obsolete, companies will start realizing the cost savings of moving to 100% online. Especially when they can translate reduced licence costs into a competitive advantage against their competition. Basic Economics will play a role in these decisions.

Broadband PC users / Internet Service OS: How is productivity going to get better by introducing Internet Services at the OS level? The only thing I can see is grid computing / shared computing resources (OS Cloud for more processing power for R&D / Science). Internet Services become useful at the Application level. Internet Applications already consume Internet Services and have for 3+ years. If that is the goal for 2010 then MS would be about 6 years behind the rest of the world (10 years before mass adoption). Who knows, possibly Microsoft can't divulge half the info about that anyway.

Online / Offline: One can already build online / offline web applications.

Productivity: I have seen nothing recent from Microsoft that makes me more productive. Everything I've seen / heard about (Office 2007 / Vista) actually decreases productivity because of the learning curve. They totally ditched super users in favour of making it easier for beginners - and that's just stupid in a mature market where loyalty is a two way street. This learning curve is pushing people into the internet application space (Google Premier Apps / Salesforce / Zoho /...). Just keep in mind this P word's biggest limitation is human nature - and technology can't do much about that.

Portability: In the era of the Internet as an OS I don't need to sit at the same desk, office or even be on the same network to be productive nor to collaborate. All I need is access to the internet and I have everything I need. Google doesn't even have assigned seats in their office - they just have floors with computers. They spend their money on other things like hot tubs, sports and 20% time - that leads to employee retention. I bet the cost of each Google employee is about 1/2 the cost of each MS employee should MS actually have to pay licenses for software and infrastructure they consume.

Saturation: People who want PC's / broadband already have it (at least the people that matter EX// not Coboconk). As people better understand WHERE and WHAT they WANT to do on their PC's they will realize they don't need to spend $500 on an OS when everything they do is in a browser (exception: image & video editors, gaming and game programming). The internet is mature and is evolving into the OS that Microsoft predicted when they won the Internet Explorer anti trust case earlier this decade. I'm purchasing a Fedora laptop with the equivalent power as my current laptop for $150 USD brand new. Would cost $650 with Vista. I don't know if Vista is really worth the cost of 4 internet only Linux boxes.

T-1 Adoption: Windows 7 will be adopted in 2015 no earlier. It may be released in 2010 but even after a year you'll only have early adopters and people that were forced to have it because they bought new PC's (as is the case with Vista). Because the enterprise is the only customer that will see value in Windows, they will adopt Vista no earlier than when Windows 7 is released. Hence Windows 7 will actually be 10 years behind when adoption rates are significant, and if history repeats, will only come with another HUGE learning curve that organizations don't want to pay for in productivity losses.

Collaboration: Is the buzz word in the age of internet applications. Our consulting firm could win more bids if we didn't try to push Sharepoint (have still not seen a decent implementation of that beast). Sharepoint is required to link all the MS parts together. It costs $30K to brand and deploy in an organization plus volume licensing of the parts. All of this functionality is included in the $50 per year per user Google Premier Apps package without the need to manage hardware. In an economic era of big boxes vs. bootstrapped startups how can any org compete with costs like that?

Privacy: Is legislation not technology. Is enforceable in a court of law. Any company seeking to house user data will be subject to privacy regulation. In that their systems will be more secure than a basic Windows OS installation or else their business will be shut down by the courts (or repairs will be made and distributed to everyone immediately rather than VIA service updates). I can customize my Social Web OS EX// Facebook to look like I want it to with the privacy that I want. I can specify who to share documents with in my Google Collaboration suite. The company cannot share my data without a court order, and because of this enforceability - their systems are less subject to intrusion than even my own PC. If my home PC was hacked I could do nothing, if my web data account was hacked tI could sue.

Mobile: Is the fastest growing segment of the internet and will drive the Internet as an OS theory. Regardless of what the numbers are today, mobile devices will increasingly consume internet data sources. The single largest factor prohibiting mobile internet usage is platform. These limitations push developers further into the internet space. The iPhone's Safari browser is a key differentiator that other companies are trying to copy and will lead the charge in this arena. AJAX is here to stay, even on mobile phones!


Unfortunately I don't think that this has anything to do with the rate of technology progression. I say this because it started drizzling about 3 years ago, started to pour in the last 18 months, and we now sit in a very mature Internet Application Space. YouTube is mature, iTunes is mature, Ring Tones are mature, Office Productivity is mature, and VOIP and Social Networking are nearly mature (also adoption rates are much faster for web apps over desktop apps). It's not about reinventing the wheel here - it's about making the wheel easier to produce, use and maintain - all the while keeping it the same. It's about developing a rubber that works as well on ice as it does on asphalt as it does on concrete. It's about giving the driver the same feel of control over his vehicle in every type of driving condition such that they can focus on what is really important: getting to where they are going.

Having said this I do recognize that this is a huge mindset shift for people at the CTO level and directly below, and in this you could turn several of these arguments against me. But as the CFO's start tightening the purse strings as the US goes into recession, technologies largest opponent becomes cost. And in time's like that the Board of Directors are more inclined to listen to the CFO over the CTO, especially when companies like Google are setting up aggressive corporate sales teams who's job it is to make people appreciate just how much cheaper their product really is.

It's nice to think that technology is the savoir of business, but it's actually the other way around. Without a business need, there never would have been a technology developed to fit the hole. It's important to recognize that business dictates this change, not technology companies. It just becomes a bit insulting when status quo is a superior route of action than action it 'self.

P.S., Gaming, Video Editing, Image Editing, and general media consumption are outside the scope of this posting. Should Microsoft decide to include media services in the base Windows 7 install they will face another anti-trust case. It's tough being Microsoft right now - but I'm rooting for them. At least they have Virtual Earth, Silverlight and control over the best darn CLR on the market. Their future is still bright, I just question if they will see continue to see ROI's similar to previous Windows releases after the Vista generation.

Over and Out

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