NYT: Gartner and Even MS Engineers Think Windows Must Change

While Apple and the Linux community make frequent improvements to their OS, Windows has become an obsolete monolith, according to the New York Times on Sunday. The design deficiencies of Windows are now becoming painfully obvious; it could use a rush of fresh air.

"When IT professionals and consumers got a look at Vista, they all had this same question for Microsoft: Thatis it?" wrote Randall Stross. Ever since then, while IT managers have slowly worked towards adopting Vista, observers and even Microsoft engineers have been asking themselves whatis next as Microsoft plugs holes, fixes the fixes that never worked, and continues to rest is laurels on an aging architecture.

Apple, in contrast, had to make some dramatic changes in the late 1990s just to stay in business. With their backs against the wall, Apple introduced Mac OS X while giving customers a way to run their legacy Mac OS 9 applications with "Classic" mode.

Mr. Stross asked Arvadis "Avie" Tevanian, formerly with Apple and the father of Mac OS X at Apple, if Microsoft could make the same kind of switch. "Perhaps, but I donit know if it has the intestinal fortitude," he said. "At Apple, we had to. It was a matter of survival."

Microsoft, on the other hand, has not elected to make any radical changes. Mr. Stross pointed to the April 2008 Gartner report "Windows is Collapsing" which said that 20 years of legacy code and backwards compatibility will prevent the timely updates needed. "Windows must change radically," the report said.

Even some Microsoft engineers agree, but theyire relegated to internal research groups. Those engineers believe that a fresh start is needed to eliminate the crashes and security problems built into the aging architecture.

While the industry seems to be agreeing on more and more that something must be done about the state of Windows, TMO notes that another question arises. Given the fact that IT is locked into Microsoft technologies, one has to ask whether Microsoft will 1) pay a catastrophic price for their current approach, 2) drift unaware into hard times, or 3) more or less continue on forever as the default choice for the enterprise.

So far, Microsoft hasnit had to pay a dramatic price for the current state of Vista, and thatis a powerful incentive to continue business as usual.