In a piece on the public radio program Future Tense, a tech writer says “The Windows ecosystem is broken, bigtime.”.
The discussion is an extension of a post where he explains why he believes the interrelationship between hardware, software and OS in the Windows world is collapsing.
This is a tremendous issue, because it is the ecosystem surrounding Windows — the vendors that make hardware that rely on it and the software developers who make programs that run on it — that has driven Microsoft’s success. The ecosystem has become horribly complex over time, to the point that it’s collapsing of its own weight, out of whack, out of balance.
The ecosystem has two huge drawbacks.
The first is Microsoft’s promise to make each generation of Windows compatible with as many products designed for previous generations as possible.
The second vulnerability is the growing number of products produced to run on Windows.
I think anyone who uses Windows, even just a little like me, has experienced this increasingly unstable chaos. Friends who have “upgraded” to Vista are finding even more of it.
However, is the Mac OS any less complex?
Hardly. But it certainly is more stable, for the simple reason that when it becomes necessary, Apple is willing throw out everything and start over.
I’ve been a Mac user since almost the beginning and have been part of the rather messy switch to OS 8 in the 90’s and the much smoother move to OS X just six years ago.
In both transitions they offered a kluge to allow older software to run, but both solutions were shaky links to the past and were rather quickly abandoned.
So, what’s the solution to this house of cards that’s ready to collapse?
Microsoft really has no choice — it can no longer support the ecosystem that has built up for so long. An attempt to add another layer will send it crashing, if that’s not happening already.
It’s time to tear it down, and start again.
I wonder how long that will take.