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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.

Does Vista mean the begining of the end for Microsoft? Well that's an interesting suggestion from John Naughton at the Observer

I found this courtesy of and it does raise some interesting points regarding the gestation period of Longhorn and it's challenges getting to this point? Have we reached the natural plateau of how large a software program can be?

There will be a predictable (and expensive) PR campaign to coincide with the final release of the software. But in Redmond, Washington, the Microsoft campus, the only sounds to be heard are of people muttering 'Never Again'. For the Vista story has turned out to be an interminable corporate nightmare. The system is two years behind schedule, and in its released version will be only a shadow of what was envisaged when it was first given the code name 'Longhorn'. It has left behind it a trail of corporate wreckage and prompted a major reorganisation of the company's senior management. Jim Allchin, one of the company's most hardline ideologues (and the guy whose internal memo about 'leveraging' the Windows monopoly probably triggered the anti-trust suit in 1998), announced that he would go when Vista shipped. And even as RC1 was released, it was announced that Brian Valentine, Microsoft's operating systems chief, is leaving to join According to the Seattle Times, Valentine's departure is amicable, but his exit signals the end of an era.

The Vista saga has two interesting lessons for the computer business. It raises, for example, the question of whether this way of producing software products of this complexity has reached its natural limit. Microsoft is an extremely rich, resourceful company - and yet the task of creating and shipping Vista stretched it to breaking point. A lesser company would have buckled under the strain. And yet while Microsoft engineers were trudging through their death march, the open source community shipped a series of major upgrades to the Linux operating system. How can hackers, scattered across the globe, working for no pay, linked only by the net and shared values, apparently outperform the smartest software company on the planet?

Microsofties retort that Vista is much more complex than Linux. But it's not the whole story. It could be that purely networked enterprises like the Linux project are actually a better way of producing very complex products, much as Toyota's 'lean' production system is the best way of making cars.

The difficulties in developing Vista stemmed from its monolithic structure and the need for 'backwards compatibility', ie ensuring that software used by customers on older versions of Windows will work under Vista. This vast accumulation of legacy applications acts like an anchor on innovation. The Vista trauma has convinced some Microsoft engineers that they will have to adopt a radically different approach.

Its outlines are already visible. It involves, firstly, abandoning the idea of an operating system as a monolith and breaking it into modules, and, secondly, adopting 'virtualisation' - a key technology that enables a single machine to run several operating systems (or modules thereof) in parallel - to deal with the backwards compatibility problem.

Virtualisation is the Next Big Thing in computing, and the lesson of Vista is that Microsoft will have to embrace it to survive in the operating system market. The trouble (for Microsoft) is that the leader in the technology is Xensource, a spin-out from Cambridge University's Computer Laboratory. And here's where the delicious ironies begin. For not only is the lab housed in the William Gates Building (in recognition of a donation by the Microsoft boss), but Xen's core technology is - wait for it! - open source, which in Redmond is still viewed as the spawn of the communist devil. In due course, an accommodation will be reached - and Xensource will go through the roof. If you were thinking of investing, however, I'm afraid you've missed the boat. John Doerr, the world's greatest venture capitalist (Sun Microsystems, Compaq, Lotus, Intuit, Genentech, Millennium, Netscape, Amazon and Google, inter alia), got there before you. In this business, you have to get up early if you want to get into bed.

Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2006 7:59 PM IT Management | Back to top

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