Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Desktop

Microsoft is releasing Windows 7 sometime soon.

The hype is growing, Windows 7 however is Vista with the kinks straightened out, the OS that Vista should have been 2 or 3 years ago. At work we still use Windows XP, and there is not one feature that we are missing, no killer reason to update.

The only reason that we will eventually update will be when Microsoft stop releasing security updates for XP. There you have it, that is how Microsoft create value for their customers - security updates. The rest is marketing pizazz. Think of Vista or Windows 7 as big, expensive security updates.

In fact forking over money for XP gave you the chance to have a couple of more years of security updates than sticking with Windows 2000. Windows 2000 was the first OS which Microsoft got relatively stable, that was the killer feature (when you think of it stability shouldn't be a feature it should be a requirement!) and Microsoft have been struggling to find a compelling feature for every release since.

Apple of course are going down the same route. The Linux desktops are similar, but people are willing to experiment and take more risks so there is always something interesting happening around Linux (whether it's useful or not is another thing).

I do not want to sound like that guy that wanted to close all patent offices in the US at the turn of the century because he couldn't see any innovations coming, however slowly but surely the desktop (alongside many other types of software apps) is becoming commoditised. There have been few (if any) compelling new features on desktops anywhere in the last ten years or so.

The desktop has ceased to become a moving target. Pretty much every platform is on an equal standing.

Google recently announced Google OS. It's aimed at netbooks, which makes sense, Google's online apps only cover the basics. Point is whether it is nimble enough (it will compete against a one size fits all Windows 7 for the most part) and hits all the right points that netbook users look for. If so, it could well carve out a niche for itself.

This is the message everyone should be taking away from Google's announcement. Where once no one in their right mind would look to tread on Microsoft's patch, the desktop is not a moving target anymore. There are so many niche's which Microsoft will be too cumbersome to serve, and perhaps then we will then see innovation kick started again.

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