Windows Phone 7, Windows 8 and Not-Desking

Thursday, October 28, 2010 / Posted by Luke Puplett /

Smug. That’s how early iPhone users felt they up went home, or into work, with their shiny world-in-a-box gadgets. And this is how I feel as the new owner of a Samsung Omnia Windows Phone 7 device.

My first impression is that it is at least twice as good to look at and hold than I expected, and superior in feel than the aforementioned revolutionary. Or maybe its the novelty of change.

I won’t bore you and myself with a guide around it but I wanted to write about the thoughts it provoked within a few moments of using this new phone from Ford. I mean, Microsoft.

It makes you wonder what Windows desktop could be if it were rebuilt from the ground-up with selected hardware partners. Their desktop OS hasn’t changed much since I was a Windows support guy for them in 1997. Actually, the file system goes back to 1993.

Then there’s the registry from Windows 3.1. Oh and don’t forget the whole network OS; slow roaming profiles, domains, NetBIOS and the rest. Maybe it’s just me but I’ve become quite contemptuous of Redmond’s laziness when I logon in the morning.

I started my career on the frontline for Microsoft just after passing my driving test, but while I’m going grey and groaning when I ease down into my chair, Windows is still the bloody same.

Worryingly, I’ve invented a theory on why the Windows we’ve always known may just be the only Windows we ever get. Here’s why.

The ball around Microsoft’s ankle is its success. It has a generation of compatibility to nurse. With all it’s customers riding on its back, it must turn slowly to ensure a comfy ride. Their turning circle is perhaps wider than the twisty-changey road of technology. What to do?

One strategy would be to build Windows 10 with no legacy support, a .NET Framework CLR and Microsoft’s own apps, then allow people to migrate in their own time, which is effectively how Windows 95 became NT 4.0 became Windows XP.

This would be costly in the sense that they’d be supporting two Windows lines but keeping everyone happy. The Ford Galaxy and the Ford Focus RS.

Or I wonder if the desktop will actually be left to fester as the world of devices takes over and desktop computing becomes a niche in a liberated new world where workers don’t just hot-desk, but not-desk.

To make the Focus RS, is it worth the significant financial investment, upheaval and disruption to their massive customer base at a time when their future is so uncertain? Uncertain because of the interesting situation they’ve woken up to find themselves in.

Technological innovation has the biggest impact on human behavioural trends, and while Microsoft were scrimping on their mobile platform, also just an old codebase with a coat of paint, their ability to control and pre-empt future trends was also lost.

Windows may have won out in the desktop era but they’re arguably just starting out, behind not one but two other companies, in the next era of computing.

So Microsoft is in the unfamiliar position of having to take an, albeit very experienced, guess on how people will go about their lives and business in the coming couple of decades.

Interesting times.


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