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Goodbye To Bill Gates And Windows XP

Information Week
InformationWeek Daily - Monday, June 30, 2008

Editor's Note

Bill Gates And Windows XP: Good Night And Good Luck

Microsoft marks the end of an era as Bill Gates and Windows XP -- two icons of the company at its zenith -- head for the sunset. Can Redmond survive this transitional moment, or will June 30 be the day Microsoft died?

That Gates and XP are exiting simultaneously is fitting. Both are poster children for a style of computing that is fading, literally, into the clouds. Both also represent a late '90s to mid-oughts Camelot period that Microsoft may never recapture.

In his various roles at Microsoft -- as CEO, chief software architect, and, lastly, chairman -- Gates championed a PC-centric view of computing in which the desktop was king and the operating system was the brains of the whole operation.

And under Gates, Microsoft utterly dominated personal computing with its DOS and Windows systems.

Windows XP was the best of the bunch.

Reliable, relatively secure, and easy to use, XP may go down in history as the last, best OS for the client-server world. XP does everything an OS needs to do to facilitate traditional, networked computing. Indeed, its utilitarian excellence left Microsoft with nowhere to go.

As a result, the failure of the widely maligned Vista OS was almost preordained. All of Vista’s bells and whistles -- like the silly, Flip 3D interface -- are merely subtraction by addition to a Windows environment that didn't need any more tinkering.

As long as client-server was the dominant computing model, that is.

But its days are numbered. Moving forward, computing will be all about the Web as a platform for tapping applications and services. It's a scenario that's been dubbed cloud computing.

Fat OSs, like Vista, and even XP, are overkill when it comes to the cloud. Cloud computing is all about fat pipes and distributed processing power. Thin operating systems that quietly, and modestly, direct traffic while running in the background will be all that's required locally.

Read the rest of my blog post to understand why future operating systems will be judged like NBA refs, and let me know what you think.

Paul McDougall
[email protected]

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