Thursday, June 15, 2006

Corollary...

Today I ran across a news article announcing the demise of Windows 98 and Me:

http://www.informationweek.com/security/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=188703336

I find it slightly humorous that Microsoft is incapable of creating an upgradeable OS. Linux, and to some extent, Mac OSX, are upgradeable. Okay, Microsoft has attempted it in the past and generally failed miserably. What would be nice is if I could buy just the features I need. This would allow Microsoft to develop the software at their leisure and if I bought a feature (say for $5), I'd get that feature and any security updates for it forever. Let's take a few examples:

1) MS Paint. I never use this feature and, frankly, don't want it either. It hasn't changed since Windows 95 and people shouldn't have to pay multiple times for the same application. It is a terrible image editor. However, a lot of children in schools use it because they either are bored or really don't know there are plenty of better tools.

2) Remote Desktop. A versatile tool I use frequently. However, most users never touch it.

3) Task Manager. Something almost everyone uses. There might be the occasional person who won't buy this feature but it would be considered something more or less "essential".

4) WinFS. Some people might want it, others won't care or will really hate the idea. While removed from Vista's set of initial releases, it will be thrust upon the masses through a Windows Update sometime in the future. What if you could CHOOSE whether or not WinFS is installed and pay for the feature if it is installed or save money and not install it?

5) Specialized API calls. Windows still depends heavily on the Win32 API - or is it Win64 API now? Erk. Anyway, I'd say roughly 33% of the APIs in Windows never gets used because the APIs are for specific OSes. If Microsoft only released one version of Windows and sold "API packs", that would solve a huge number of issues. A software package being installed could ask the OS, "Hey, do you have these packs installed?" And the OS would reply 'yes' or 'no' to each request. Then the installer could say to the OS, "Hey, since you don't have these packs, could you initiate the 'API pack' purchase wizard for these packs? Make sure the user knows I need them installed to operate properly." The OS would then launch the "API pack" purchase wizard and the user could buy the necessary API packs to run the application. If the user decides to not buy the packs, the application will simply not install (or could install and the user could buy the packs at a later date).

Windows 95 isn't even mentioned in the article. My guess is that support for it died a long time ago. Windows 2000 support is coming to an end shortly too. My guess is that it will be an uphill battle for switching users from XP to Vista and terminating support for XP will be like pulling teeth. XP, despite its (easily changeable) color scheme, is actually the most stable OS Microsoft has. Vista is going to be incredibly unstable (something along the lines of WinMe unstable).

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