If Windows is a dead end, what's next?

Windows 7 looks like lipstick on the Vista pig. Maybe it's time to contemplate the PC after Windows

Legacy client apps could run in virtual machines that appear to the user to be part of the "OS," just as Mac users with VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop can run Windows and Linux apps as if they were Mac OS X-native today. (VMware Workstation and Parallels Workstation likewise let Windows and Linux users run multiple OSes on their systems.) Using VMs to support today's fat client approach would allow the "OS" to evolve without breaking the legacy apps, and let everyone move more quickly away from the fat client world we live in today -- one where, in Microsoft's case at least, OSes get much fatter each rev.

In this world, Adobe and Microsoft may be the new OS providers, supplemented by virtualization engines from Citrix's Xen unit, EMC's VMware unit, or Microsoft. Today's browsers may not be necessary, except as perhaps containers for bookmarks and other file management activities.

The wild card is Apple, which appears to have no strategy for the cloud other than offering application stores for downloading to its desktop and mobile client OSes. But there are hints in its vague goals for Mac OS X Snow Leopard, due in summer 2009, that Apple is considering a scalable OS that could operate in a streamed or mixed client/Web environment. Apple says it will make the next Mac OS X consume fewer resources, and its iPhone OS is already a subset of its Mac OS. But Apple has done nothing public involving virtualization, streaming, or RIA technologies -- the apparent foundations for the new PC order.

Whether Apple is part of the new desktop order, PCs would be essentially network-optimized thin clients that have enough memory and storage to run local apps in VMs or cached streams when disconnected from the Internet, but they wouldn't need a traditional OS to function.


Everyoneloves to predict the future. InfoWorld devised five possible scenarios for Microsoft after Bill Gates' retirement. Which do you believe in?

Think this is science fiction? A company called DeviceVM has an instant-on technology for Windows PCs that boots Linux first to run enable browsers to launch immediately. Windows follows along in its own sweet time. Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo are working on similar approaches -- marking a significant decoupling from the traditional client OS mentality. Microsoft says it is investigating a similar concept, using a subset of Windows to run browsers and so on before the whole OS loads. As more apps are browser-delivered, people may find they can get by without the full OS. By the same token, PC makers could make loading the whole OS an option at startup.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows Vistawindows xp

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Galen Gruman

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?