Is it time to rethink Windows?

[Disclosure: Many of the firms mentioned are clients of the author.]

It’s easy to forget that Windows was initially a shell for DOS before it went through a massive change in 1995 (after Apple made GUIs the next big thing). Microsoft dominated the market that resulted, of course. But this was a market defined by desktop hardware, where servers sat in the background and the idea of a terminal was mostly verboten. {Before the rise of the PC we had terminals tied largely to IBM mainframes that were far easier to maintain, arguably more secure because they couldn’t run viruses, and far more appliance-like.)

As we move to a cloud-driven present where offerings like Azure define the space, shouldn’t we clean-slate a new client much as we did with DOS, Windows and iOS? Doesn’t it make sense to strive for a result optimized for the cloud world of tomorrow rather than the PC world of yesterday?

Clearly the Windows Virtual Desktop showcases the need for this change. But much like we didn’t take the operating system off IBM’s mainframe and port it to PCs, I don’t think we should take the operating system off of PCs and shoot it up to something that looks a lot more like a mainframe today.

Why we might want to rethink windows

Windows goes back to its DOS roots, and every generation has built off the generation before it. This layered complexity allows applications to migrate and provides users with a level of comfort that they wouldn’t get from a changed product. But it also takes constructs that were for different generations of technology – generations that are now obsolete – and passes them up to current versions where they undoubtedly slow performance, increase security exposures and increase the costs related to updating and maintaining the offering.

A company like Microsoft can, and does, handle this overhead, but should result in unnecessary costs and problems. These problems would be avoided if the firm took a tabula rosa approach from time to time to get rid of all the baggage and start anew.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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