I’ll admit it. I spend a long time on the Internet each day reading about the latest gadgets and technology trends. Some could argue that I’ve spent too much time doing this, but in the field I plan to enter very shortly, I feel it is necessary. One of the more interesting things that I’ve been keeping track of over the past few weeks is the development of new Operating Systems. It was announced a few months ago that the new version of Windows (Windows 7) will debut a new kernel called WinMin– a completely rebuilt core operating system. Shortly thereafter, my hopes were dashed as it was announced that Windows 7 will instead be built off of the existing Windows Vista architecture. Such a rework would have been wonderful for performance, and a simple restructuring is always good for behemoth software applications.
What was most disappointing about Vista was that Microsoft had a solid 6 or 7 years to release a truly stunning product. The end result was that we didn’t get anything worth writing home about. Sure, there are a few more security features, and it looks a little better than XP, but it offers little in the way of an actual performance increase. I can still remember the angry customers at the major consumer electronics retail store that I worked at after the release of Vista. They wanted to return the OS after installing it because they found out that their computer was too slow to run the new OS. In my six months of employment there, I had never seen so much disdain for any one product by customers. One of my coworkers would point people in the direction of the Apple Center of our store when people asked where they could find Windows Vista. Although it was purely a geeky joke, there was some truth in it. Customers would probably save money in the long run if they bought a Mac. The headaches that some people had due to Vista were enough to allow Apple to enjoy a greater marketshare.
Since we’re on the topic of Apple products, I would like to mention a new Apple initiative that will prevent OS X from suffering the same fate as Vista. Leopard OS X is a great Operating System and represents a decently sized change from the version prior to it (Tiger). For the next version of OS X (Snow Leopard), Apple is taking an incredible initiative to improve their OS. Instead of focusing on new features and gimmicky crap, they are reworking the core of the OS. Developers have gone through and optimized the size and performance of popular applications (article here). Additionally, developers are making the OS truly x64 bit to take advantage of Intel processors. Up until now, computers don’t really take advantage of having multiple cored processors. Since it is not uncommon to have quad core or even an oct core, there is a big need to harness all the power. Apple is introducing Parallel Programming into the core of Snow Leopard so all applications can take advantage of the technology. Additionally, computers with dedicated GPU can use the idle processing power of the graphics chip to assist the CPU.
It is refreshing to see a company spend time in improving upon an existing platform that will benefit both customers and the company in the long run. If Microsoft spent a few CPU or product cycles on this effort, customers would definitely take notice. People would remember why Microsoft was able to secure its giant stranglehold on the IT industry, and not be angry about it.
So please Microsoft, make people happy. You will be doing yourself a favor in the long run. Don’t let the fact that reworking an OS can sometimes lead to massive failure. Take a chance, make the next Windows OS something you can be proud of. Make the next OS something I can be proud of, rather than me having to explain, for the one thousanth time why PC’s are better than Macs. Leave your suggestions on how Vista and the next Windows OS can be improved. I would very much like to hear what you have to say.