Windows Needs A Good PruningWindows Needs A Good Pruning
Responding to last week's blog entry about the <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/04/windows_is_coll.html">Gartner "Windows is Collapsing" Affair</a>, one reader took me to task in calling Vista "bloated." His point was that one person's bloat is another person's essential feature. That certainly can be true, but features that the user sees aren't the only thing that contribute to bloat. Microsoft needs to move aggressively to trim the fat out of Windows, regardless
April 18, 2008
Responding to last week's blog entry about the Gartner "Windows is Collapsing" Affair, one reader took me to task in calling Vista "bloated." His point was that one person's bloat is another person's essential feature. That certainly can be true, but features that the user sees aren't the only thing that contribute to bloat. Microsoft needs to move aggressively to trim the fat out of Windows, regardless of its source.Over the past two decades, Windows' resource appetite has grown significantly. Features have been added left and right, but almost nothing has been removed. You can still run most DOS programs and 16-bit Windows apps on (32-bit) Vista, for example. All of that uncontrolled growth has left Windows in need of a good pruning. There are three main reasons for pruning a tree: safety, health, and aesthetics. Those are the same reasons why it's good to prune software.
On the safety front, old crusty features inside Windows have been known to cause horrific security problems. The WMF file vulnerability no doubt ruined the 2005 holiday season for several Microsoft employees as they rushed to patch a hole that already had several active exploits. This was a feature that allowed WMF files to contain executable code, and it should have been pruned out even before Windows 95 was shipped. A bloated Windows isn't in such good health, either. All of those features take up memory and add complexity, leaving it huffing and puffing even on high-end hardware. Vista provides much better tools for identifying performance problems through the Reliability Monitor. Monitoring doesn't solve the problem, though; it just tells you that something is wrong. Aesthetics is a word that isn't often used in association with Windows. Both XP and Vista focused on superficial beauty -- pretty color schemes, high-color icons, and glitzy window chrome. Looking deeper at the functionality, it's often a mish-mash of features that have been piled atop one another since the days of Windows 3.1. When it comes to tree pruning, even a novice arborist has no trouble finding and removing the dead wood. The angst comes when it's time to shape the tree and prune out the live branches -- code or features -- that at least some people consider essential. How do you choose? It's not always a clear decision. Next time, I'll give some thoughts on what should be trimmed.
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