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Gartner Analysts Warn That Windows Is Collapsing 868

spacefiddle writes "Computerworld has an article about a presentation from Gartner analysts in Las Vegas claiming that Windows is 'collapsing', and that Microsoft 'must make radical changes to the operating system or risk becoming a has-been.' Michael Silver and Neil MacDonald provided an analysis of what went wrong with Vista, and what they feel Microsoft can and must do to correct its problems. Larry Dignan of ZDNet has his own take, and while he agrees, he suggests that the downfall of Windows will be slow and drawn-out. As an interesting tangent to this, there's also a story from a few days prior about Ubuntu replacing Windows for a school's library kiosks, getting good performance out of older hardware. '[Network administrator Daniel] Stefyn said he was "pleasantly surprised" to discover that the Kubuntu desktops ran some applications faster with Linux than when they ran on Windows. An additional benefit of Windows' departure from student library terminals saw the students cease 'hacking the setup to install and play games or trash the operating system.'"
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Gartner Analysts Warn That Windows Is Collapsing

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  • Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toleraen ( 831634 ) * on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:19AM (#23034766)

    "Apple introduced its iPhone running OS X, but Microsoft requires a different product on handhelds because Windows Vista is too large, which makes application development, support and the user experience all more difficult," said Silver and MacDonald.
    Wait, the iPhone OS X can run on a several devices, with as little as a 133 MHz processor with 16MB of RAM?
    Wait, Apple didn't have to customize OS X to run on the iPhone, it was perfect the way it was?
    Wait, it's easier for people to develop and distrubte applications for the iPhone, even though the ability isn't avaiable yet?

    Are these guys supposed to be taken seriously?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by San-LC ( 1104027 )
      Yeah, I'm confused along with the GP. Last time I checked, the iPhone ran a 620 MHz ARM Processor, and the original OS X Kernel was not suited to run on ARMs, only PowerPC and x86 architecture. Then, the OS X system folder was originally 2 GB on a PowerPC/x86, yet it magically became less than 500MB on an iPhone? I feel to believe that some trimming was done to the Kernel and system files in order to make it fit, so who's to say that Microsoft can't trim Windows in order to fit better on a handheld? Steve J
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gigne ( 990887 )
        well, nothing at all. Microsoft have a Windows XP Embedded designed to run on small thin clients devices. These devices typically have very underpower CPUs and hardly no hard disk. It stands to reason they could do a similar thing for Vista.
        You could always trim your own XP/Vista down with http://www.vlite.net/about.html [vlite.net] vLite (okay, got bored of trying to get the link formatted in the new inline editor.)
        • Vista is just XP once you strip it down for embedded applications.
          Aero, UAC, DirectX 10, etc... all goes out the Window (pun intended).
          You simply cannot have that stuff on a small device.

          Anyway my P3 laptop running Linux will boot to GUI (KDE 4) faster than any Vista box no matter how much you chop out.
        • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @02:38PM (#23039268) Journal
          You can trim a 600M Windows XP image down to about 120M if you know for sure you won't be using a lot of functionality, or 150M to keep all the functionality that 99% of users use (e.g. taking out the ATM networking and Trident drivers). This keeps a LOT of functionality that you don't need on mobile devices (mostly user space apps), and includes things like SP3, Windows Update updates, NVidia drivers, and so on.

          Such installs, when automated, tend to take, in my experience, around ten minutes off a disk image in a VM, compared to an hour and a half for installation (not counting the time wasted when you don't know it's asking you a question because you're off being productive elsewhere), plus the hours and hours of installing drivers for networking and video, rebooting, updating Windows Update, rebooting, running Windows Update, rebooting, running Windows Update again, rebooting, and so on.

          You can trim a Windows Vista installation (between 2GB-4GB, according to TPB) down to around 600M, trimming out all the crap that I personally couldn't afford to lose. The result was so absurd that I just wiped it out without bothering to test it.

          So, if Windows Vista is really just 'XP with prettyness and UAC' why is it an extra 450M? It's not drivers (I wiped out everything that Vista comes with). It's not useful apps or productivity tools (everything Windows comes with, I replace). So where's it all going?

          I know there are a lot of under-the-hood changes, but certainly for the loss of performance, ballooning of requirements, complexity and frustration, certainly it can't be justified... can it?
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MLCT ( 1148749 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:49AM (#23035010)

        so who's to say that Microsoft can't trim Windows in order to fit better on a handheld?
        I think that is the point. 5 years of development and one service pack later MS is still struggling to get Vista to run on the machines it was designed for. Creating a lean palm version would be a million miles away.

        I am not aware of the detailed structure of Vista's kernel, but my guess would be it is unlikely to be easily scaled down - it is an OS that requires higher specifications than XP to do mundane tasks like file copying. That doesn't suggest efficiency and portability.
        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

          by RazzleDazzle ( 442937 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:37AM (#23035490) Journal

          Creating a lean palm version would be a million miles away.

          Hardly. They could just do this on their source code to make it smaller

          s/.*linux is the devil.*\n//gi

          That should drop about 50% of their code size

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

        by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:03AM (#23035784) Homepage
        Last time you checked, you failed.

        iPhone runs on a down-clocked 112mghz processor. (before the 1.1.2 firmware, it ran at 100mghz). Yes, the processor is capable of 620mghz but the battery would last something like 1 hour so it's been down-clocked.

        Plus the iPhone doesn't have to carry the bazillion drivers that the regular Mac OS X carries, nor the bazillion software in embarks. It is, otherwise, the same Mach kernel.
      • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:12AM (#23035898)
        Rosetta. Classic. 68k Emulation. Three different times Apple's jumped platform and each time they had less backwards compatibility problems than XP to Vista has.

        Apple made it easy (If you were using their compiler) to release for 4 different platforms. It's just a check box to make a 32/64bit X86/PPC program where as, from what I've heard, everything for XP/Vista 64 bit is a 'different program'. You have to make sure you download the right one, etc. When Microsoft bought Virtual PC they had an easy out. They could have made Vista scratch up (like OS X sort of was) and left all the old XP bits behind. Instead they decided to kludge it together and screw that up.

        OS X is pretty modular, I wouldn't be surprised if it was just a different ".config" when they compiled the iPhone. And why was OS X 'not suited to run on ARM'? Heck 3 years ago it wasn't suited to run on X86 and EVERYONE knew that apple going to Intel would kill them. Turns out they've had it the whole time. I wouldn't be surpised if in some vault somewhere Apple has OS X running on an Power6, Iridium, and SUN.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by OzRoy ( 602691 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:53AM (#23035056)
      Of course not, that is stupid. But you would still say Linux can run on these devices despite the fact it also has to be recompiled and tweaked etc. I think what they are arguing is that Apple uses the same code base for the iPhone as it does for their desktops. Microsoft however has two completely seperate products for Windows and Windows Mobile which increases the development costs and complexity.
    • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dol d a 2 0 0 0 . c om> on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:14AM (#23035254) Homepage

      Wait, the iPhone OS X can run on a several devices, with as little as a 133 MHz processor with 16MB of RAM?
      I'm no Apple fanboy, but I don't really think that your points are valid anyway. Apple has no embedded device with a 133 MHz processor and 16 MB of RAM, so why should they even try to make the iPhone OS X run on such a device? In fact, since there has been no attempt to run it on such a device, how can you even sound so sure that it cannot be done?

      Wait, Apple didn't have to customize OS X to run on the iPhone, it was perfect the way it was?
      Of course they had to -- it is called "porting" the operating system to a new hardware platform, and it is a different process from writing a new system from scratch. You may have heard already, but there are several so called "Linux distros", many being ports of an operating system to different platforms, without necessarily making it a completely different system.

      Wait, it's easier for people to develop and distrubte applications for the iPhone, even though the ability isn't avaiable yet?
      While the iPhone SDK hasn't been publicly released yet, it was pretty clear from Apple's Keynote demonstration of it that it still uses all the standard OS X libraries and interfaces (with, of course, the addition of the libraries for the new UI elements). Of course, your being wrong does not necessarily make Gartner right, but I don't know enough about such things as Embedded XP to make any claims in either direction.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:23AM (#23035328)
      Steve has shown in 5 years that Apple can release more interesting stuff than Microsoft. Apple just "does" it, they don't pre-announce years in advance. Steve just shows up on sage with a fully operational Intel Mac running Apple's software Suite (OSX, iLife, etc) on day 1, or with a fully functioning iPhone that happens to have used OSX, on day 1.

      Microsoft bellyaches how "hard" software is to make, and constantly delays (and they don't make computers or phones and sell them) Apple makes it look very easy and investors are starting to see Microsoft isn't really that good at their CORE job.
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:42AM (#23036300) Homepage

        Apple just "does" it, they don't pre-announce years in advance.

        That's very true. The reasons are more to do with where each company is in the market though. Apple doesn't have much to lose if some applications don't maintain backward compatibility. Microsoft has a hell of a lot to lose. Shit, Apple just announced they were ditching Carbon for the fully 64 bit version of OSX. That means a lot of re-development, and incompatibility of apps. For Microsoft when you're at the front of the race you've got a LOT more to lose than anyone else.

        The other major difference is Apple doesn't have this horrid codebase that Microsoft does. They went through their transition pretty recently having ditched all their legacy code long ago. Essentially OSX and Linux are light on their feet, modular, and can turn on a dime. Windows is the hulking giant dinosaur that takes years to realize it-ain't-gonna-work.
        • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @11:56AM (#23037268)

          The other major difference is Apple doesn't have this horrid codebase that Microsoft does.
          Apple also has complete control over the hardware specs their software is supposed to run on, which must considerably narrow the complexity of their hardware interfaces. That's why Apple makes whole computers (or devices) and doesn't separate their hardware from their software.
          • Re:Really? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @02:51PM (#23039456)

            Apple also has complete control over the hardware specs their software is supposed to run on, which must considerably narrow the complexity of their hardware interfaces.

            I think this argument is incorrect. MS doesn't spend a lot of time making their OS work on every hardware combination, rather because of their monopoly position they can just release whatever they have knowing that hardware makers will write their own drivers and do whatever else is needed to make it work with Windows, since otherwise they aren't going to make any sales. Heck, Vista has removed hardware support for some motherboards and even things like TCP/IP over Firewire. MS isn't the one doing the work to make Vista work on all hardware and hardware makers will even change their hardware designs in order to make them work with Windows.

            Apple, on the other hand, targets a subset of hardware themselves and works with the hardware vendors to make it work, and deals with extremely large problems getting drivers for and third-party add on hardware like video card upgrades, web cams, external drives, etc. A lot more of that work does require Apple to intervene and make things really easy for hardware makers, because they usually can afford to walk away from providing mac support if it is problematic.

            That's why Apple makes whole computers (or devices) and doesn't separate their hardware from their software.

            Apple makes whole computers and won't license their OS to OEMs (who do most of the work making hardware run with an OS) because the market is destroyed at this point. They even tried going that route back in the 90s and had to cancel it not because of hardware support problems, but because they were damaging their brand because a lot of the OEMs were using really cheap and crappy hardware that often failed and at the same time had the same bullet points as Apple's hardware but at a lower price. Basically, when the desktop OS market is monopolized, try to compete therr is a doomed venture and Apple and several other vendors discovered.

            Apple ties their hardware and OS because it allows them to sell systems based upon the features of the OS, while at the same time competing in the computer system market which is still relatively healthy (against Dell, Sony, etc.) instead of trying to compete against MS in the desktop OS market, which has been completely undermined by MS's monopoly.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:29AM (#23035394) Homepage Journal
      This confusion is very common. There is the core OS and the MacOS X product you can buy in boxes. The core OS does not include Finder or Aqua. Just by getting rid of the superfluous components, Apple was able to shrink OSX to a bare minimum and then, just by selectively compiling the parts that made sense to include in the phone and iPod products, they achieved the desired footprint. It's like compiling a minimal kernel on Linux or BSD - really simple.

      There could have been some problems with ARM-incompatible stuff, but those problems did not prevent the product launch.

      As for developing, doing it for the iPhone OS is very close to developing for MacOS. Not everything is present, but it is a lot easier than to transition from desktop Windows to Windows CE.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Apple did shrink it even further for smaller devices. The iPhone/iPod Touch have proven it can be done and getting rid of OpenGL ES, CoreAnimation and Cocoa Touch would end up in a very, very small OS.

      Yes. Microsoft painted itself into a corner. They will, eventually, figure a way to get out, but I am not sure they will do it in time.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:56AM (#23035706) Journal
      Of course not. Gartner is a think tank for hire, their bread and butter is outlandish predictions. The only news here is that Gartner is predicting bad things for Microsoft. Was Microsoft late on their payments?
  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:26AM (#23034814)
    Most users do not understand the benefits of Windows Vista...

    You mean the almost-constant nag screens?

    or do not see Vista as being better enough than Windows XP...

    Making them smarter than the lying marketroids selling it...

    to make incurring the cost and pain of migration worthwhile.

    Translation: People are smarter than they think, and an OS that takes twice the hardware to be twice as slow AND even more incompatible with previous software isn't worth my money.

    Of course, they still get sales - from the same idiots at my work who want to be upgraded from Office 2003 to Office 2007 because it's a bigger number, and then complain that they are confused by Office 2007 and want the tech support guys to "fix" it.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:50AM (#23035016)

      Most users do not understand the benefits of Windows Vista...

      You mean the almost-constant nag screens?
      Are you sure you mean the almost-constant nag screens?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 )
      Believe it or not, I think many, if not MOST of the new ideas in Vista are fundamentally reasonable. They're awkward in Vista for historical reasons, or because of certain implementation choices.

      The UAE "nag" screens are not, in principle, any different from Ubuntu's sudo pop-ups. They're more ubiquitous because of the Windows software ecosystem's DOS pedigree. DOS was not an OS, it was more like a library of system access routines. Any process could access any resource on the system and do as it please
  • by Kwirl ( 877607 ) <kwirlkarphys@gmail.com> on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:28AM (#23034826)

    For how many years have slashdot 'experts' been predicting the 'downfall' of windows? For 23 years they have not just controlled, the word is 'dominated' the desktop environment. For the majority of computer users, the words 'Windows' and 'Computer' are borderline synonymous.

    And you're proof? Because some users believe that 'Vista sucks' blah blah blah. How many people started ringing the bells for Microsoft after Windows ME? We saw how that worked out...

    • by Doctor_Jest ( 688315 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:35AM (#23034886)
      Gartner owns Slashdot now?

      Man, when did this happen?

      You are right about one thing... the morons still equate "windows" with "computer". But thanks to the 'tubes, TV, and Apple's marketing, that _is_ changing.

      Death knell? Windows will not die with a bang, but with a whimper... but what do I know... I'm posting on Gartner, er Slashdot.
      • by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:53AM (#23035664) Homepage Journal

        Death knell? Windows will not die with a bang, but with a whimper...


        Windows will die like a big ole dinosaur, and its death throes are gonna mess up its local ecosystem real bad.

        Stay well clear of that tail. There's no mind controlling it any more.

        And... well... there's no pleasant way to say this, but it needs to be said. So WARNING: NEXT PARAGRAPH MAY EVOKE UGLY GRAPHIC IMAGERY!

        When a dinosaur dies like Windows is dying, it not only thrashes around a lot, but all its sphincter muscles relax and contents of its bowels and bladder spew forth, driven by the pressures of the terminal seizure. You want to be on high ground and up wind when that happens.

    • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:42AM (#23034948)
      There is a difference. MS rely on the guidance of marketing analyst PT Barnum ("There's a sucker born every minute"). In the days of ME, this was a fair analysis - most ME users had never seen a computer before. Not only you could sell them most anything, they had no one to turn to who knew better until win2k came out, and then the migration path was obvious.

      Unfortunately for MS, virtually the entire world's population now has Windows experience. It was not a great experience.

      Some are cretins, and could not interface with a 4x2, but enjoy blaming windows

      Some are experienced IT people who have seen Linux/Unix and know how it could be.

      Most are now in a position to ask the professionals "Is this as good as it gets?" and being told - no, there IS another way.

      Some are migrating to Vista, and realising that if it can get worse, sure as hell it could get better somehow. They know who to ask for advice, and its not the guy in PC world.

      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:20AM (#23035298)
        Some are experienced IT people who have seen Linux/Unix and know how it could be.

        Was this a pro-linux/unix comment or a pro-windows comment? Its much too ambiguous.

        Getting linux running smoothly can be just as trying as windows if not more trying.

        Most are now in a position to ask the professionals "Is this as good as it gets?" and being told - no, there IS another way.

        A different way, with its own slew of canyon-wide pitfalls. Like... nearly all your software won't work, including your accounting software won't run on it at all, period. Or the minefield of setting up dual screens or wifi, or getting your shiny new blackberry or iphone to sync contacts with outlook... oh wait... no outlook...

        Sure ubuntu etc have reached the point where you can build a basic web&email machine very quickly and its pretty simple, but go much beyond that and Linux throws plenty of obstacles into your path. Some can be overcome, some can't.

    • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:45AM (#23034968)
      Your argument essentially boils down to, "they had a pretty good run so far so I'm assuming they are invincible".

      Same how the Roman empire was invincible, really. And the British empire. And let's not even get started on the American empire, which is crumbling before our very eyes.

      Where is IBM? Where is Word Perfect? Both ruled supreme in their days, but those days are long gone. And just like IBM, Microsoft will still be around - but not as the powerhouse it once was. It will just be another big player instead.

      One day soon the stockholders will ask why Microsoft is sinking so much money into XBox 360 or any of those other loss-making projects that Microsoft enjoys so much. And once they pull the plug on such projects, they will start to wonder if profits wouldn't be higher if Office were in a separate company, not fettered to any particular operating system.

      Windows will survive that, as will Microsoft. But it will gradually become a niche product, one of many choices available for the operating system. Hardware will be controlled more and more through hypervisors. Applications will more and more be in virtualized environments of their own (beit virtual machines like Java or .NET, or in interpreted environments like browsers).

      And one day, someone will ask "what operating system are you running that on?", and despite being a card-carrying geek with a 4-digit slashdot ID, you will be forced to admit "Uhm, I'm not actually sure." Because it won't matter anymore.

    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:45AM (#23034970) Homepage Journal
      The Windows Me situation was different.

      Microsoft had the entire Windows NT branch practically ready and waiting in the wings to replace it with.

      With XP coming to the end of its life for desktop machines, what can they move to this time?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:48AM (#23034994)
      Ordinarily, it might look like everybody is just decrying their favorite OS...but I think Bill's recent announcement that Win7 is coming next year lends some credence to the speculation.

      Think about it--every self-respecting business decided to hold off on Vista until at least after SP1. Well, SP1 has only just arrived, but before those businesses even have a chance to think about migrating, M$ is talking about releasing a completely new OS. It's speculation, sure, but it looks like Redmond believes it too, if they're willing to make a move like this...
    • by Slashidiot ( 1179447 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:54AM (#23035068) Journal
      Well, in my opinion, the big difference is that when the Windows ME was released (2000), Apple was just coming out of their crisis, and Linux was too far behind in ease of use for the general public. Now, Apple is a real competitor, eating marketshare fast, and Linux is more than ready to be an option for anybody. So now there are real alternatives, and then there were none.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:13AM (#23035236)
      I would personally love nothing better than to be able to cut the strings and ditch Windows myself. It's expensive and the target-of-choice for virtually every piece of malware, spyware, and virus. But every time I try, I always come back. Why?

      Because Apple is even more expensive and just as proprietary as Windows, won't let me build my own system, and is poorly supported by software developers. If Apple dominated the market, there is every reason to believe they would be just as heavy-handed as MS, if not much worse.

      Because doing anything in Linux ends up with me banging my head against my computer screen. Even Ubuntu, the most user-friendly distro so far, is an endless series of frustrations. "Why can't I just download a piece of software and double-click on it to install?!?!" "What is the difference between KDE and Gnome and why should it matter?!?!" "Why do I have to go to the command line interface to do even basic stuff?" Hell, until the latest release, Ubuntu wouldn't even let me attach a projector without a complicated edit to the Xorg config file. ARGHHHHH!!!

      Windows may die one day, but it's going to take a *lot* more work before anyone else is going to slay that dragon.

      • by R_Dorothy ( 1096635 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:56AM (#23035708)

        "Why can't I just download a piece of software and double-click on it to install?!?!" "What is the difference between KDE and Gnome and why should it matter?!?!" "Why do I have to go to the command line interface to do even basic stuff?"

        As a Linux user I have the opposite frustrations when I come to use Windows. "Why do I have to search the web to find a piece of software to download? Why can't I just go to 'Add/Remove Programs', type in the name (or a keyword) and click install?", "Why can't I chose a different desktop environment when I log in?", "Why can't I use the command line to do even basic stuff?"

        Different strokes for different folks.

    • by poot_rootbeer ( 188613 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:08AM (#23035850)
      For 23 years they have not just controlled, the word is 'dominated' the desktop environment.

      Check your numbers. Windows 1.0 may have come out in 1985, but it was pretty much a joke, a slightly prettier version of DOSSHELL.EXE. Windows 2.x was hardly any better.

      It wasn't until 1992, with version 3.1, that the Windows monoculture really began to take hold, and not until Win95 that 'domination' could be rightly claimed.

  • by sqldr ( 838964 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:32AM (#23034854)
    An additional benefit of Windows' departure from student library terminals saw the students cease 'hacking the setup to install and play games or trash the operating system.'"

    Yeah, that'll last. I'll give it a week before someone finds a manual and migrates their "expertise" to their new operating system.
    • by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:12PM (#23037476) Homepage
      OSU (Oregon State University, a bastion of open source) has Ubuntu terminals. Now, I'm pretty good at what I do, and that used to include breaking Windows for fun, so I tried to break their terminals. My goal: root.

      Not easy. First, they use Idesk for their desktop (on Windowmaker), so all you can open is Firefox. I used the local browser code execution trick to get a shell, and took the home directory back for myself, but had no root. I eventually had to look up an old, old, old overflow in ping, compile it on another box (since there's no local compiler), and copy it to the terminal, and then I had a root shell. Total time: 5 hours. That's roughly 60 times what it took for me to break an XP kiosk.

      The moral is either "don't admit to fucking with kiosks online," or "Ubuntu is, despite its friendliness, surprisingly more secure than Windows."
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:34AM (#23034868) Homepage Journal
    until Netcraft "confirms it"[tm].
    • by value_added ( 719364 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:58AM (#23035100)
      Forget netcraft.

      It is official. Gartner now confirms: Windows is collapsing.

      One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered Windows community
      when Gartner confirmed that Windows is collapsing in complete disarray and
      risks becoming a has-been. Coming on the heels of a recent survey which
      plainly states that by the end of 2007 only 6.3 percent of the 50,000
      enterprise computer users it surveyed were working with Vista.

      You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin to predict Windows' future. The
      hand writing is on the wall: Windows faces a bleak future. In fact there
      won't be any future at all for Windows because Windows is collapsing.
      Things are looking very bad for Windows. As many of us are already aware,
      Windows continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of

      Fact: Windows is collapsing
  • At home perhaps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oxy the moron ( 770724 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:34AM (#23034872)

    I can see this happening rather quickly at home. It hasn't been hard to convince my family members to get away from Windows. While my wife is probably more computer savvy than most, she hasn't had any problems switching from Windows to Linux, and actually likes it more. It's been more difficult for others I've gotten to switch, but in general the result has been positive.

    The corporate world is a completely different story, though. Many large, medium, and small companies have committed vast resources to development in .Net. And while a good chunk of that can be run on Mono in a non-Windows environment, it's not entirely the same, and transitioning to something else, from a OS or software perspective, is going to take even more time and money in an economy where money isn't readily available.

    Additionally, while you can probably count on your IT staff to have a reasonably easy transition to something other than Windows, your non-tech employee base is almost certainly going to have a great deal of difficulty. Add in the fact that lots of small and mid-size businesses use "friendly" accounting software that runs solely on Windows, and I think Microsoft has a much larger buffer for error than most people think.

    Will it happen? God I hope so... but I'm not optimistic it will happen even in the next 5-10 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimicus ( 737525 )
      Add in the fact that lots of small and mid-size businesses use "friendly" accounting software that runs solely on Windows, and I think Microsoft has a much larger buffer for error than most people think.

      You've alluded to the biggest issue.

      Businesses depend on a whole bunch of software which isn't fun to write, requires enormous amounts of maintenance (you try telling your local taxman that your tax return is innaccurate because nobody's bothered to update your software for the recent changes in legislation!
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:36AM (#23034894)
    Michael Silver, it should be noted, is fairly neutral in his coverage of Microsoft. Here is a link to his past papers:

    http://www.gartner.com/Search?op=16&f=2&keywords=&bop=0&op=16&sort=73&archived=0&simple1=0&n=8332&authorId=8332&resultsPerSearch=0&dir=70&sort=73&dir=70 [gartner.com]

    The problem, as I see it, is not Vista itself. Rather, it is the slow but steady migration from PCs being central to computing tasks to reliance on servers for processing power and storage. Although Outlook client may run on your PC, the real work managing your company's mail is handled in the backrooms on server hardware. They aren't running client Windows back there.

    So on the front end, as McNealy and Ellison have been saying for a decade, computers require less and less individual computing power, and backend servers need more and more. This is the problem for Windows because the growing requirements of the OS to do all the cool things that users like is outstripping the pace at which the needs of the users are growing. Translation: Vista does too much unnecessary stuff (however cool and flashy it might be.)

    Apple does this too, but their hardware requirements are automatically met by virtue of them selling the hardware themselves. Linux, OTOH, is both a low-end client and a high-end server. It fills the roles needed by users without bringing with it a hefty cost per unit.

    The upshot is that the PC as a computing platform is ailing. It will always have its place, and it will hang on for quite a while longer. However, the general trend towards less necessary functionality on the client end and more stability and power on the server side means that alternative systems now have a lower hurdle to gain a foothold in the upcoming paradigm shift.

    We have already seen a huge shift away from laptops as the mobile computer towards dedicated devices like the Blackberry and smartphone. As we progress, many of the roles that the PC plays now will move closer to the user so that the usage scenario no longer is sitting in front of a glowing monitor but rather sitting back and doing the same job faster and more easily than currently performed. I, for one, welcome our new embedded overlords.
  • Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imstanny ( 722685 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:39AM (#23034918)

    An additional benefit of Windows' departure from student library terminals saw the students cease 'hacking the setup to install and play games or trash the operating system.'"
    Are we to infer that non-windows operating systems are unhackable?
    • no (Score:3, Insightful)

      All the man said was that the students stopped "hacking the setup to install and play games or trash the operating system."

      If you infer any more from that statement than that the kids stopped hacking to install games or trash the os, that's about you and whatever you're bringing to your reading of the article.
  • by Bombula ( 670389 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:41AM (#23034938)
    Despite Microsoft's valiant efforts, the real problem is that PCs running a windows-ish GUI have become a ubiquitous utility in our society, just like water and roads and electricity and phones. This is not a good thing for a technology company. It was not good for Bell for phones to evolve from a cutting-edge innovative technology to a ubiquitous utility, or for Edison for electricity to do the same.

    When a technology service becomes ubiquitous and homogenous and - importantly - ceases being innovative, it runs the risk of becoming a candidate for conversion into a public utility. To stave this off, either ongoing innovation is required or the illusion of innovation and change is required. Microsoft has done a bit of both with Windows. But it's a thin veneer. As a result, poopulist efforts to 'socialize' this technology into a public utility are surging; hence, Ubuntu et al.

  • by vainov ( 107102 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:42AM (#23034950)
    Windows NT was developed by Dave Cuttler (of DEC VMS team) based on a operating system specification developed by IBM. (It was supposed to be released under the name OS/2 version 3).
    Microsoft implemented the Windowing API on top of that operating system.

    The fact is that Microsoft has never developed a commercial operating system from scratch!!!

    They have only incremented the original Windows NT (a.k.a. OS/2 v3.0) code base, for example by:
      - replacing the OS/2 file system delivered in Windows NT with the more modern NTFS
      - re-writing the OS/2 deveice driver layer of Windows NT with a new, 32-bit and C-based API [the original NT device driver model was 16-bit and assembler-based]
      - moving the implementation of the graphics API into the ring-0 kernel [big mistake!]
      - replacing the OS/2 multitaskin DOS compatibility (i.e. the text window of Windows) with a less DOS-compatible one, which was supposed to run on multiple processor architectures.

    The effort to create a new operating system core for Vista failed because of lack of in-house knowlege.

    The task of writing a new core OS (under the Windows API) seems to be too difficult for a company run by marketing people and lawyers.
  • legacy code (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:46AM (#23034980)
    If anything, legacy code will be Microsofts downfall (as TFA stated). I saw this happen firsthand for a company I worked for over a decade ago. They had a pretty impressive application and a long list of Fortune 500 corporations as customers. Even IBM (we're talking back before the Windows 3.x days) was basically giving the company a few million dollars a year for the privilege of reselling the software themselves. Well rather than build new versions of the application from the ground up, or even introducing potential incompatibilities between major releases, the powers that be insisted on full backward compatibility.

    Over time more competitors showed up in the marketplace, and as the economy shifted IBM stopped tossing money in our laps. Our engineers (of which I was one) spent most of their time trying to figure out how to shoehorn new features and entire new parallel products on top of the existing legacy codebase. The inevitable result was that we struggled while our competitors came out with newer, more modern & more powerful software. I eventually left that company to go to a startup where 7 others from this company had already gone to. That company was acquired a couple years later, and the application pretty much no longer exists.

    If the engineers, who had requested the ability to create a new product from the ground up, had been listened to, then perhaps that company would still be around and competitive. It was mainly because of the business decisions to retain backward compatibility, like MS has done with Windows, that they eventually disappeared. As long as MS maintains their own demand for backward compatibility they'll be waging a slow & prolonged war that they have no chance of winning.
  • Seriously folks... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GiorgioG ( 225675 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @08:49AM (#23035006) Homepage
    ...do we really need Gartner to tell us that Vista is crap - one year and 3+ months after it was release?

    Statements like "Users want a smaller Windows that can run on low-priced -- and low-powered -- hardware..." make me wonder if these guys graduated at the top of their class at Captain Obvious University.

    Additionally they state "...increasingly, users work with "OS-agnostic applications..." - is there a reason for them to not just say "web apps"? And how about the fact that most large organizations have so much legacy code that even if Windows development stopped entirely today, you wouldn't get rid of all of that desktop apps for many, many, many years.

    ""Apple introduced its iPhone running OS X," no, it's a variant, which is a code-word for sub-set.
  • by noldrin ( 635339 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:01AM (#23035130)
    Windows has always been a dog, but that has never stopped it. Vista is a dog, but I still have customers clamoring for it despite our best efforts to get them to stick with XP. The only way Linux will compete is if they build new platforms for people to do business on. Trying to clone the MS platform is always going to be buggy and incomplete. FOSS developers would do good to spend some time temping around as office admins to get an idea of how offices actually use their computers.
  • by charlie ( 1328 ) <charlie.antipope@org> on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:05AM (#23035154) Homepage Journal

    Of course Windows is going to decline.

    The International Monetary Fund [telegraph.co.uk] just announced that the sub-prime crisis has tipped the USA into the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. During recessions, the first thing to get cut back on is unnecessary infrastructure replacement -- and PCs have been marketed on the basis of planned obsolescence [wikipedia.org] for around a decade now. So the PC replacement cycle will be hit, hard.

    Vista is a resource hog, Ubuntu is just about coming up to mass market usability, and a lot of places are going to stop replacing their PCs annually or bi-annually in the next couple of years. Unless Windows 7 is as comparatively lightweight as XP, it's going to crash in the "upgrade your OS" market -- only new PCs will ship with it. So Microsoft will have two poor sellers in a row -- which is enough, in the mind of the fickle public, to establish a trend, and with Apple chowing down on 25% of the high-end laptop market already, they're in danger of being squeezed between a high-end competitor and a low-end one.


    Windows is so big, with such a huge established base, that its decline will resemble that of the old IBM mainframe environment -- which is still doing fine, decades after the death of the mainframe was predicted. This ain't going to happen overnight.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by myside ( 679429 )
      I'm a bit of topic, but you missed the mark there. What they (the WEO) said was, "The financial market crisis that erupted in August 2007 has developed into the largest financial shock since the Great Depression, inflicting heavy damage on markets and institutions at the core of the financial system."

      However, if you read on, you realize this is just a bit of journalistic bluster since the WEO is predicting the US economy to grow this year (just grow slowly). Growing slowly isn't a recession at all - I b

  • by rpp3po ( 641313 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:13AM (#23035244)
    Balmer is a Tyrannosaurus, a dinosaur of the past. He's still playing an aggressive dominance card of leadership, but his ship has started sinking very slowly a long time ago. His style of management is imperious and ignorant. This used to be the way to go, when Microsoft was a aggressive and flexible shop going for world domination - not by being better, but being faster, and by _setting_ standards instead of waiting for them to evolve. Those times are long gone. Microsoft is a moloch. Vista didn't set any standard for anything. Apple did on the desktop and Google and others did in the web. And still there we have yelling Balmer as commander in chief shouting at those who could know better instead of listening and comprehending what is really going on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:14AM (#23035252)
    Microsoft got all corporate and forgot their customer were the *end users*.

    They seemed to get it in their head their customers were the people asking for DRM throughout the OS.

    They seemed to believe the end users (the ones who have to pay for, and use their product) don't matter. They thought people just wanted some fancy need interface tweaks, and they'll accept whatever is forced on them.

    It turned out they were wrong.

    Microsoft need to strip it down, make the next version wicked fast, make it open to people who want to use their platform and media the way they want, and encourage developers. Backward compatibility? Only to the extent of running the top 500 well-behaved applications.

    Give the next version away. Use the slogan "We're showing Windows the door".
  • by pcguru19 ( 33878 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:15AM (#23035264)
    There are folks that take the word of Gartner like it is manna from heaven and it continues to amaze me. They've managed to position themselves a trusted source by putting products in a 2x2 square after they interview people using the software despite the fact that most of the time they end up being wrong. Like any good psychic, they only refer to their successes at predicting the future and hope people will forget when they missed the mark.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, exactly. We scoffed at them (and rightfully so) when they said "Linux is dying," and now that they say "Windows is dying" we're prepared to believe them?
  • by Bones3D_mac ( 324952 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:50AM (#23035618)
    All of you open source developers hoping for the day that Linux/BSD/etc is taken seriously as a consumer platform (similar to what Windows and the Mac OS have enjoyed for over a decade) need to start banding together now to discuss how to make something as complicated as Linux truly accessible to any user without sacrificing the benefits Linux offers. Until commercial entities like Adobe see that there is a viable audience to market their products to in Linux/BSD/etc, these OSes are going to live out most of their lives as little more than behind-the-scenes grunt-work software or as a niche item on a hobbyist's / enthusiast's computer in some basement.

    Somehow, there needs to be some form of interface consistency across the board that is logical, useful and attractive to even the least intelligent of users.

    Take the 3D application "Blender" for example. Most of us know that Blender itself is fairly powerful when used correctly by the right person. Yet despite the fact that Blender is both power and free, your typical consumer level user is far more likely to gravitate toward products like Carrara Studio, based almost entirely on it's presentation and interface design. People don't like it when their software intimidates them and they are more than willing to pay good money to avoid it whenever possible.

    You also have to consider that time is a major factor as well. While anyone could "learn" to use Blender effectively and efficiently, the time invested in overcoming the learning curve is too much for many of us. If you were to compare Blender's interface directly against Carrara Studio's interface. Most users would again gravitate toward Carrara since they perceive a much lower investment of time involved in trying to "get it". The reality though, is that the core learning curve on either of these apps for most functions is probably identical.

    Overall though, it's likely going to be a lot more difficult than it sounds to put a new face on Linux to make it pretty, useful and non-threatening to the average user. Hell, Apple's been trying for nearly 10 years with Mac OS X, and they've only just barely got it right. (Despite the numerous flaws...) It can be done, but it'll take a lot of effort to really pull it off.
    • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:29AM (#23036112) Homepage

      All of you open source developers hoping for the day that Linux/BSD/etc is taken seriously as a consumer platform
      I think you may be missing the point here. MS has always lived on its revenue stream generated by OS and Office. Over the last half-decade or more, the market growth has dwindled to represent a small percentage of their streams; this was inevitable as the installed base grew. Without upgrades on installed machines, their revenue drops.

      That's bad. Really really bad. It's bad because they won't be able to afford to develop their way out of their problems if the cashflow into the OS division becomes a serious drag on the bottom line. The current Windows system is so large that it requires armies of programmers to develop it's many little pieces, and any sort of "global project" is simply impossible -- as Vista demonstrated.

      The situation is extremely similar to Apple in the mid-90s with the Copland project (go read the wiki article). As the project grew it got to the point where they needed an infinite number of people to develop it (see "Mythical Man Month"). Combined with rapidly dwindling sales, and thus revenue, they couldn't even afford a finite number of developers, and the entire project imploded.

      As Copeland demonstrated, the solution is to start over with a new plan. Let's not forget that Apple has switched platforms _four_times_ (68k -> PPC -> OS X -> Intel). If they can do it, so can MS. But if MS is going to do it, they are going to have to pull the trigger, and every release of the existing code base makes that decision harder and harder.

      Working against MS is the fact that they are *not* near death. Apple's brush with extinction meant there was very few people to piss off when the inevitable happened and the old systems were semi-abandoned into the "penalty box" (Blue Box). MS has hundreds of millions of users, it's going to make their life extremely difficult. VMs may indeed work, given recent advances, and if they can isolate applications in different VMs then they might make the system more secure as a free offshoot.

  • The REAL reason (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @10:06AM (#23035820)
    From the full article on computerworld.com

    Backward compatibility is a losing proposition for Microsoft; while it keeps people locked into Windows, it also often keeps them from upgrading
    Finally somebody exposes the main reason Windows is not a cutting edge product, nor will it ever be (using the current business model).
  • by pseudorand ( 603231 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @11:36AM (#23037020)
    From TFA Summary: "must make radical changes to the operating system"

    Any software developer knows that 'radical changes' to working (however imperfectly) code is a bad idea. The only thing really wrong with Vista (other than the necessity of all those graphics in the first place, which boils down to a matter of opinion) is the video drivers, which can be blamed on Nvidia and ATI, not Microsoft. I get similar problems using the proprietary binary drivers on Linux from time to time as well though. It usually only crashes Xwindows rather than requiring a reboot, but you probably shouldn't be running a 3d graphics on a machine with uptime requirements in the first place.

    Mr. Silver and Mr. MacDonald are either:
    a) Complete morons
    b) Covert Linux enthusiasts frustrated by Linux's slow advances in the desktop space
    c) Very knowledgeable about the direct relationship between sensationalism and ratings and lack thereof between intelligent analysis and ratings

  • by Paperweight ( 865007 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:42PM (#23042080)
    I went and installed Windowblinds and a Vista skin on our XP machines. Now users think we have Vista for all intents and purposes, and I get to support XP. It's win-win!

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson