Sunday, February 4, 2007

Thoughts on Next Windows

Sent the following feedback to Mary Jo Foley's article on "Windows 7" at

Thanks for the column,

I especially liked the realization that "Microsoft is currently facing some of the same problems with Vista it has been experiencing with Office for a couple of years now."

This is in my opinion very true, and gives hope that the Redmond Co can actually pull itself back into fondness and innovation camp, if it truly wants.

What I'd already have done, if I were their head of OS development:

- Handle Win32 compatibility via sanboxes and emulation (each app getting its own image of Windows, unable to mess up the underlying OS at all)

I _thought_ they were into this, when they purchased Connectix (Virtual PC) a few years back. Basically, they should have made Virtual PC an essential part of Windows itself.

What this allows, is re-making the actual OS on _any_ architecture they like. All C# or something like that. Transition from C/C++ to higher languages was promised by them ("managed code") but has it happened...?

- Split the company. For their Own Good.

They could make old-style Windows support into a separate, limited resources company. One of their problems (and I've seen this in other big, succesful sw houses) is that they're plain too big. Software development does not have an economy of masses. Car production has. For sw, innovation and effeciency works in small groups, tied together by a flexible integration framework. This is what Windows lacks, and maybe cannot ever really be given. Virtualization/sandboxing would place technical limits to the "weight of compatibility" they carry along, splitting the company in parts would do the same at an organizational level.

- Learn from the XBox 360

Rather, make the New Windows around it. Allow XBox 360 to run the SAME os as next-gen Windows PC's (maybe even the games, being DirectX based always was the promise they had on the XBox line).

Granted, the CPU differences (x86 vs. PowerPC x3) are huge, but that's where the virtualization helps. XBox 360 can surely run Virtual PC, they've just not released such a product.

APIs and "binaries" of the new OS would anyways be non-native (think Python/Ruby/C#/Lua bytecode) so having different hw backgrounds no longer is an issue like it used to be.

Asko Kauppi, Finland

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