A Confident Prediction

I have been mildly surprised at various recent articles on the web, expressing surprise that Windows 7 is so popular compared with Vista. This brings to mind the old saying “those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it”, and suggests to me that many of those commentators don’t know their history…

I remember the grand old days of Windows 3.0. This was Microsoft’s third attempt to deliver a window-based environment on the PC, and had a load of technical innovations which showed that this could at last be a reality. In practice, it was a bit flaky, with some enormous frustrations (does anyone else remember the old File manager?!!)

Then came Windows 3.1. This was solid, fast, and worked so well that some people are still using it.

Windows 95 introduced a radically overhauled architecture, with the object-oriented user interface we all know and love, and a much cleverer structure for common components like drivers and communication components. In practice, it was a bit flaky, with the odd enormous frustration.

Then came Windows 98. This was solid, fast, and worked so well that some people are still using it.

Is anyone else spotting a pattern here?

Windows 2000 introduced a load of technical innovations, merging the “NT” and “9x” code bases into a single workstation line and a separate server stream based on the same core. Interestingly, although this worked pretty well, I even caught Microsoft salesmen saying to corporate clients “there’ will be an update out next year – wait for that”.

That was Windows XP. This was solid, fast, and worked so well that some people are still using it. I still run it on my laptops, although the big beast now runs Windows 7 (and Frances’ laptop manages on Vista).

If you look at the history of other Microsoft products (Word, for example), you see the same pattern: an “architectural innovation” release, followed by two or three consolidation releases which build on the new architecture and make it stable. Any the reality is that the same is equally true for many other software suppliers – see my recent postings on Bibble for another example.

So here’s my threefold confident prediction:

  1. Windows 8 will introduce a load of new technology, which will move the world of computing on. It will also be full of frustrations and most people will hate it. The critics will pan it and explain that it’s the end of Microsoft and computing as we know it. There will generally be a great wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  2. As a result, some people will still be using Windows 7 in 2020. It wouldn’t surprise me if a few are still also using XP, 98 and 3.1!
  3. Windows 8.1/9 will be solid, fast and people will love it.

Don’t say I didn’t tell you!

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