Opinion – Microsoft seems to have developed an astonishing ability to forget the past with its introduction of Windows 7, an amnesia that is matched only by its long time partner, Intel.
Intel, as ancient people interested in technology know, has come up with all sorts of projects, reference platforms and research & development ideas which haven’t made the grade and have been conveniently whitewashed from history.
So, of course, has Microsoft but the difference between the software giant and the semiconductor giant is that up in Redmond, there appears to be precious little sign of technology’s favorite buzz word, “innovation”.
Naturally, Microsoft does not want to share its Windows code with the wider world, because that code is the equivalent of its crown jewels. What we’d give to be able to peep underneath the hood, and compare Windows 7 with Microsoft’s stillborn OS, Vista.
According to seer-in-chief Bill Gates, the development of Vista cost as much as the first mission that put a man on the moon. Vista was late, probably over budget, and certainly didn’t inspire the corporate market to open the company coffers and upgrade hardware and software. Even before the credit crunch, the corporate buyers were sitting on their hands – refuseniks to the last chief financial officer.
How, then, did Microsoft manage to pull off the miracle of creating the Windows 7 operating system in a time period that makes Vista development look like it had taken millenia?
It’s speculation because Microsoft will never deny or admit it, but it’s my hunch that the only real difference is that Windows 7 consists mostly of a front end covering up a Vista core, with some additional minor tweaks.
Why does Microsoft seek to change its operating system every few years anyway? The answer to that question is very clear. The revenues from Windows are considerable and if it can perform its usual party trick and drag the PC manufacturers and channel into its usual cycle, Microsoft will accumulate the usual rack of golden coins it’s done before.
What is very clear is that Microsoft is not developing successive versions of Windows to “enhance the user experience” – a mantra it constantly trots out at every possible opportunity. Along with a new iteration of an old operating system comes a collection of other associated baggage – not just additional hardware, but training for the new interface too.
Microsoft has every right to make money, of course, but this is the 21st century and we’re in the middle of a severe recession. Over the years, Microsoft has promised that with every revision it makes Windows better than the previous versions. But that hasn’t always been true – far from it – and not everyone feels they have to be a passenger on a gravy train that never stops rolling. Microsoft, don’t cut off your nose to spite your interface.