Yep, Folks Are in No Rush for New OS


I am always jealous of our bloggers when I see them post something to the effect of, "A leading industry expert has just announced that she fully endorses an idea that I wrote about a month ago."


I never get to do that, because a) I don't blog that often and b) I'm just not all that futuristic in my thinking. I'm too busy-at least, I tell myself that I'm too busy -- dissecting stuff in real time to ponder a lot of implications.


But in that spirit of envy, today I will write that (as I suggested in this post three months ago), Gartner analysts now say they see very little point in upgrading to Windows Vista in your shop, if you have not already done so.


To both Gartner and myself, I say: Well, duh.


There have been few products so roundly rejected as Vista was at its original release. Our own CTO compared Vista to Windows ME, which I've got to say is pretty harsh. Today, he tells me that our current plan of action is to go straight from the venerable XP to Windows 7-when we are "forced" to.


I imagine that's the ultimate challenge facing operating system designers these days. How do you make a new version of something appealing when it has worked pretty much the same way for about 15 years? In the mobile OS space, there's certainly ground to be made up in the areas of touchscreen IO and other key functionality that just hasn't matured yet.


But for new desktop/laptop versions of Windows-and for that matter, Linux, which to all but the technical cognoscenti operates the same way as Windows-what's the big draw? Cool ads and the safe haven of flying (mostly) below hackers' radar lets the Mac OS claim to be really, really different, but as somebody who grew up on Macs, let me say-not so much. And not if Windows designers keep swiping neat UI gadgets in each new release.


I remember a TV technology pundit-I think it was Leo Laporte back in the days of ZDTV, but I can't swear to it-once commenting that what's really needed is a new organizational, navigational metaphor that will revolutionize the way people view the relationships between data on the their computing devices and will hustle the old Xerox folders metaphor off to the boneyard.


To that I say: When can we expect the next revolution in fork design? How about the steering wheel that will change everything? If IKEA or GM thought there was any chance of building themselves a nice little five-year refresh cycle by releasing a new version of base products, I'm guessing they'd have one.


The cloud is the latest perceived uber-threat to Microsoft's cash cow OS business, and there's a lot of validity to that point. But ultimately, I think most customers have reached the point where they will upgrade their OS only when they have too-and that's not the best relationship to have with your customers.