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Is Windows Vista an opportunity for Mac?

© December 2005 Tony Lawrence

Over at APLawrence.com, we've had some discussion over Microsoft's admission that Windows is seriously broken.

You can read that whole thing if you want, but the nub of it is that Microsoft threw away everything they had done with Longhorn (their next Windows OS, now renamed "Vista") and made a clean start with Vista. The reason was simply that the existing Windows code is too buggy, too messed up, too complex: they had to start from square one.

Mac sort of did that with OS X, but they were working from a very stable base - they used a BSD kernel and a lot of the work that had been done with NeXT. Also, Mac embraced a whole new interface and was able to provide a Classic mode to ease the transition. Microsoft won't be able to do that trick very easily: their Vista needs to work with everything that now runs on Windows. If it doesn't, if the developers and users see too much pain in this upgrade, or if Vista is found to be broken (which is very possible considering how much old baggage just has to be carried along), some of them may decide that the time is right to investigate other options.

What's the best option for folks wanting to leave Windows? Well, gosh, that's obvious: Linux servers and Mac Desktops. And maybe even Mac servers and Mac desktops for some. But definitely not Linux desktops, which means Mac could slide right into the void.

With the coming switch to Intel, the timing couldn't be better. If the new Macs can safely sandbox the old Windows into VMware or some other virtual machine, then there is even more incentive to switch: keep the old junk running while we segue to a better world.

Exciting possibilities? You betcha.

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Sun Feb 5 03:28:15 2006: 1603   drag

haha. I think Linux desktops.

But it doesn't realy matter.. OS X and Linux are suprisingly compatable. Especially when you take into account that the GNUStep system (the 'alternative' GNU desktop) is a open source implementation of the OpenStep API. And since Cocoa API used in Apple's "modern" side of their desktop is based on OpenStep with a few apple-specific extensions they are only a short hop away from each other. Programs designed in one are very compatable with programs designed in the other.

When you take into account Winforms being developed for Mono's '.NET' implimentation.. This makes it easy for a programmer who went to school for Windows and .NET to make complex programs for Linux without actually having to know that much about Linux.

And Winelib makes porting applications from Windows to Linux simple. After Vista comes out it may be theoreticly easier to port Windows programs to Linux rather then port Windows programs to the new Window's API. (avalon and all that) It's already possible to go the other way and program, compile, and test win32 programs in Linux to be run in Windows without actually using Windows.

There is all sorts of stuff like that. And since OS X and Linux are highly compatable then a win for one is a win for the other. I figure if Window's desktop dominance (currently around 95 or so) degrades down to 70-80 then you will have significant increase in vendor software and hardware support for both OS X and Linux. It would be economicly justifiable. (the "firefox effect"?)

At that point it would be easy for users to choose what platform they'd like to use and OS X, Linux, and Windows will be more often choosen for real merit rather then being forced to use one platform for application/file/exchange compatability.

I can forsee a time were Microsoft's attempts at lockin by not adhearing to standards and refusal to provide compatability for other people's products can come back to bite them by making them seem the odd man out. You'd have applications that "just work" on OS X and Linux.. Thats were all the fun stuff would happen. And then they'd have to be ported to Windows.

Sun Feb 5 03:37:41 2006: 1604   drag

oh, and if you take history adoption rates into account it can take 3-5 years before Vista install size can become more then the Windows XP install size.

This is about the projected lifespan of computers I suppose. It'll take that long for the average person to get rid of what they are currently using and buying this year and get a new computer (which would generally have Vista pre-installed)

So even if Windows Vista gets out the door at the end of this year, which is only so-so likely, then I expect that you have another 2-3 years for Linux and OS X to make significant inroads into the XP install base before having to compete head to head with Vista.

Wed Mar 19 20:28:44 2008: 3860   TonyLawrence

I really liked this recent warning at (link) about installing Vista SP1:

"Remember, it may take some time for the service pack to finish installing, especially if you have an older computer or many files on yours. Be patient, as it may take several hours to complete."

And I get upset when a Mac security patch takes more than five minutes..

Wed Mar 19 20:31:59 2008: 3861   TonyLawrence

And this from (link) is precious also:

"The install process takes a while… it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the speed of your computer, and it will reboot your system a number of times during the process."

Oh goody - multiple reboots, giving you multiple opportunities to hold your breath and wonder "Will it fail this time?". Gotta love Microsoft patches..


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