Aquarium Blog

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

64-bit computing and legacy hardware support: The two sides of the Windows fence

Here is Scoble calling for nominations for Team 99, some kind of "external evangelists" group that will provide Microsoft with feedback on Longhorn and will also help with "communicating the good news" about the OS.

I posted there a link to my blog, in case somebody will want to nominate me. However, I am not expecting this to happen, as I am not very well known. I don't care. I usually give my feedback just because poorly worked software pieces (not only from Microsoft) annoy me a lot.

There are a few things interesting in the discussion following Scoble's post:

Andre Da Costa says:

Ok, if any of you get to become a part of this Team, try and deal with some of issues facing Windows today. Try and think beyond the average user base, think about Windows world wide. I am from a third world country where its still difficult to buy a PC because of cost. Try to think about how Windows can better conform to the needs of these economies or how Microsoft can better meet the needs of users in these countries through programs such as Starter Edition.

Good! Very good! I have spent a lot of time to thinking about this, and I agree completely. Microsoft needs to pay more attention to this.

Scoble replies (to me):

Diego: yup, and on the other side of the fence, Paul Mooney just reminded me not to forget 64-bit enthusiasts too.

Well, that is very important too. On one hand, if MS doesn't get 64-bit computing right with Longhorn, it will certainly loose some market to Linux and others.

But if they don't get legacy hardware support better than in the past... Well I wouldn't want anybody at Microsoft to get the idea that those millions of old government computers around the world will stick to Windows 98 and 2000. It is more likely that they will switch to Linux instead. And with them will go many developers all around the world.

It has been typical of Microsoft to push the hardware envelope on each new version of Window and this way they have increased their revenue and helped the hardware industry at the same time. Historically, most Windows copies have been sold on brand new computers, but year over year, the size of the installed base has grown.

This time, maybe the balance has shifted enough. Maybe it is time what is good for Microsoft is not exactly what is good for hardware makers. I mean, people would be happier paying for software, hadn't they have to pay for hardware upgrades so often.

What I would like to see is a very secure, manageable and stable version of Windows that is light enough to run on the same hardware that used to be the Windows 2000 baseline. It doesn't really matter if it is not very beautiful. It is enough that it runs Office, Internet Explorer and Terminal Server Client well.

I am cool with Microsoft adding 10 million lines of code to Windows on every new version, if they let people disable or avoid installing the heavier parts of it. For instance, I agree Avalon makes a lot of sense, and it is understandable that it will need serious GPU power and large amounts of video RAM. But I would like that XAML applications were able to "degrade gracefully" on older hardware.


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