The Last Windows OS?
Sometimes the game is over even though somebody on the losing team is still running like mad toward home plate.
SCO, for example, has released a version 6 of its Unix OS, but they haven't sold many upgrades. For the vast majority of SCO users, their "five dot" releases are effectively the "last" SCO OS. When RedHat stopped "free" versions at RH9, that release effectively became the last RedHat Linux that many users care about (though RedHat has had a lot more success with its paid versions than SCO has with SCO 6).
XP may be Microsoft's last OS.
Oh, yeah, I know: Vista. Yes, of course they'll release that. And they'll sell more of it than SCO or RedHat will sell their new products. That's a given.
But there are obstacles to Vista being a big success. For one thing, it's confusing: there are five versions planned and the differentiation isn't all that clear. Secondly, it will require faster hardware. That need comes at a time when budgets are being squeezed; yes, PC's are getting cheaper, but if you have something that works (XP), why upgrade your hardware just to get Vista? A lot of companies and individuals will let that opportunity pass.
Windows Vista is also going to be more annoying. Unless Microsoft changes their present security model, Vista is going to be *very* annoying (from http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista_5308_05.asp):
Here's the good news. In Windows Vista, Microsoft is indeed moving to this kind of security model. The feature is called User Account Protection (UAP) and, as you might expect, it prevents even administrative users from performing potentially dangerous tasks without first providing security credentials, thus ensuring that the user understands what they're doing before making a critical mistake. It sounds like a good system. But this is Microsoft, we're talking about here. They completely botched UAP.
Well, I doubt it's going to affect hundreds of millions of people. I think Microsoft will change this (and probably break their whole security module in the process or delay Vista's release even more). If not, those "hundreds of millions" are going to hear about this and say "No, thanks" pretty loudly.
The bad news, then, is that UAP is a sad, sad joke. It's the most annoying feature that Microsoft has ever added to any software product, and yes, that includes that ridiculous Clippy character from older Office versions. The problem with UAP is that it throws up an unbelievable number of warning dialogs for even the simplest of tasks. That these dialogs pop up repeatedly for the same action would be comical if it weren't so amazingly frustrating. It would be hilarious if it weren't going to affect hundreds of millions of people in a few short months. It is, in fact, almost criminal in its insidiousness.
A large number of people just don't need to switch. If it's expensive, confusing, troublesome and annoying, they just plain will not. It's as simple as that.
Heck, I still see people sticking with Windows 98. I don't just mean home users, I mean corporate users. The number who will elect to stay with XP is going to be far larger than those who stayed with 98.
Another place where XP may "stick" is in Mac OS X. According to Cringely at his There May Be an End-run for Apple Around Windows After All post, Apple may have a legal right to put XP API's into Mac OS X. That, in combination with virtualization, is just another reason to keep people developing and maintaining XP apps.
"But it's stagnant!", you exclaim. "People will want new OS features."
Ayup. They will. But nothing says those features have to come from Vista. Linux and Mac OS X can move forward faster than Microsoft can because they don't have to care so much about backward compatibility - if virtualization spreads as I think it will, they don't have to care at all. But Microsoft has that albatross forever. I think XP will be around for a long, long time.
*Originally published at APLawrence.com
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A.P. Lawrence provides SCO Unix and Linux consulting services http://www.pcunix.com
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