Opinion: Vista is dead, PDC suggests

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Opinion: Vista is dead, PDC suggests

Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference has shown one thing at least, says Iain Thomson: the company has given up on Vista and is now looking at Windows 7 as its saviour.

The extent to which Redmond is now trying to focus attention on its next operating system rather than the current one shows that Microsoft has now accepted what its customers have been so ably demonstrating; Vista is not wanted and is best left to the history books.

The whole focus of PDC seems to have been about Windows 7. Vista is being treated like the red-headed stepchild of its product line.

When Vista was announced it was supposed to be the nirvana of the company, a ground up rewrite that would solve the security problems that had dogged Microsoft for so long and a new architecture that would marry closely with the profitable Office suites of the future.

Instead the system was a neutered version of what it was supposed to be, and resource hungry to boot. It was always going to be a difficult sell to Microsoft’s corporate customers that an operating system was good enough to justify upgrading enterprises, but to produce software that required a hardware upgrade as well would never fly.

For years Microsoft has been in a symbiotic relationship with hardware vendors; it would provide software that needed faster and faster systems to run in exchange for giving the users more functions that they wanted.

But we’ve reached the point now where all of the basic functions needed by businesses and consumers can be run with existing software and hardware. With the exception of server systems and high end applications, plus a few gamers, there’s very little need ot upgrade, since computers do pretty much what we want them to do.

Add in the latest trend towards netbooks, a market Vista cannot penetrate, and you have a perfect storm for the operating system.

So Microsoft’s focus on Windows 7 is understandable, but will it save the company. I have serious doubts.

Yes, in two years time companies will have retooled their computers to handle the demands of the new operating system. But first looks indicate that Windows 7 will be a rebadged version of Vista and Microsoft will need to bring more to the table if it is going to win back customers.

To compound the issue open source software is going to look increasingly attractive to companies in the future. The new generation of IT staff has been raised on open source, they’ve used it as students and the old argument that support costs are higher with open source are no longer true.

Futurology is difficult at the best of times but it looks as though Windows XP was the nadir of Microsoft’s success and it will all be downhill from here.

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