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Fresh Air For Windows?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the reinvention dept.

Windows 645

jmcbain writes "The NY Times has an opinion piece on how the next Windows could be designed (even through Microsoft has already laid plans for Windows 7). The author suggests 'A monolithic operating system like Windows perpetuates an obsolete design. We don't need to load up our machines with bloated layers we won't use.' He also brings up the example of Apple breaking ties with its legacy OS when OS X was built. Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"

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heh, normal version (5, Informative)

javy_tahu (1045868) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994561)

Re:heh, normal version (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994947)

Yeah, this is what it normally says....

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(WTF? Why even bother posting these things? You work for the NYT?)

Short answer: no (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994563)

Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?

Based on past performance: No.

This has been another edition of Short Answers to Stupid Quesitons.

Re:Short answer: no (5, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994765)

The wise answer is "maybe". There are only two companies that have done something similar. Apple, tried doing it from scratch and basically killed itself in the process, had to adapt already written NeXT. Even that took forever and sucked for a couple of years before they got everything right. Microsoft did something similar with windows NT: a ground up modern rewrite that was mostly compatible with the existing windows, but there was a lot of time that passed between win NT 3.50 and win xp. So if they started right now from scratch, maybe in ten years they could have something that would be decent.

Re:Short answer: no (5, Interesting)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994807)

It could be done... in a sense. If they used their new virtualization technology (which actually isn't half bad, the beta even lets you take multiple snapshots, unlike vmware server), they could theoretically build in a "compatibility" model that could be enabled/disabled but could run older windows applications even if they new OS is radically different in how it handles such things.

Re:Short answer: no (4, Interesting)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995015)

It could be done... in a sense. If they used their new virtualization technology (which actually isn't half bad, the beta even lets you take multiple snapshots, unlike vmware server), they could theoretically build in a "compatibility" model that could be enabled/disabled but could run older windows applications even if they new OS is radically different in how it handles such things.

Sort of like what Apple did with OS 9/OS X?

If so, the trouble with that might be that the legacy OS (Win XP or Vista) is so large that the legacy OS portion would double the size of the installation. If I recall correctly, the OS 9 support in OS X only added 400 MB to the installation, as OS 9 itself wasn't that large. What was really nice about it was that it could easily be removed if you didn't need the legacy support.

(I may be wrong in my size estimates or misunderstand the OS 9 legacy support, as I moved from Windows XP to OS X when Tiger was released and have little experience with OS 9.)

Re:Short answer: no (5, Informative)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995031)

Commercial versions of VMware allow multiple snapshots. The version you refer to is the freeware version.

Re:Short answer: no (2, Funny)

stas1s (980655) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995057)

Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?

Based on past performance: No.

This has been another edition of Short Answers to Stupid Quesitons.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Wine? (3, Interesting)

karearea (234997) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994573)

They could throw some time and effort (and $$?) into the support of WINE to allow the use of legacy Windows applications in an 'archaic OS'

Re:Wine? (5, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994611)

WINE just provides a reverse-engineered implementation of the Win32 API. Microsoft has the real original code.

Re:Wine? (0, Offtopic)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994901)

Why the words "just" and "real original"? You do know that the whole "Genuine"-"Real"-"Original"-thing only exists because marketeers found that the uneducated masses pay twice the price, just to see those very words on a box.

I'll trade the "real original" BSOD in for "just a reversed engineered" software package without masses of flaws any time.

Re:Wine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994651)

Yeah. They could do as Apple have, and make a new OS based on BSD or something... and use wine for compatibility with old windows programs.

Re:Wine? (5, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994859)

the windows NT kernel is fine. Moving to BSD or linux, or QNX etc won't improve it. OS X wasn't just a move to BSD, it was also a move to OO via Cocoa. The toolbox/Carbon is/was strictly procedural, much like the Win32 api. DotNet is OO, but so was MFC.

Re:Wine? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995085)

That's kind of what I was thinking:

Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"

The original father of Linux is open source, perhaps they could start there? Joking aside, this statement is what Wine on GNU/Linux really is, isn't it?

My second thought is: Why would you want to support tons of legacy applications if you have F/OSS equivalents available? Does it have to be separate but equal?

Linux is sort-of 'johnny come lately' and is showing MS how it can be done. Arguments about security and usability aside (those are about equal on either side) I think Linux has a better stand than Vista.

But then again that is the wrong comparison since MS won't surrender DRM schemes for a truly open, standards based approach. Moving away from usability is nothing if you don't have to *use* our activation key is not going to be easy for the 800lb gorilla.

My only hope is that whatever Redmond does, they introduce standard security processes that introduce generic users to the basics of secure computing... you know, things like surfing from a sandbox, not logging in as administrator, standard backup processes, user accounts, and only having control of user account data etc. Some of those legacy applications simply need to be done away with or locked in a sandbox of a virtual machine.

My opinion anyway.

Re:Wine? (1)

cobaltnova (1188515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995093)

Mmmh hmmm. Could I get that running on Linux? And... yeah, some fries too, please. kthxbye.

Existing legacy support. Wait, what? (4, Funny)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994577)

Remember Vista? Supporting legacy apps is already something MS has no interest in, apparently.

Re:Existing legacy support. Wait, what? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994781)

Any software that was created in the past few years which vista 'broke' were most likely poorly designed or were associated with managing or doing the functions expected of the OS itself (with a few exceptions.)

Vista really isn't that 'buggy.' It is top heavy and uses way too much resources if you are only using it for limited things, but as a general purpose OS it really isn't that bad. I would still prefer Windows XP on new computers simply because I can get away with more power with a smaller investment in hardware, but I'm not necessarily 'against' Vista.

Re:Existing legacy support. Wait, what? (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995075)

Bashing Vista has become like pouring hot grits on Natalie Portman around here. It's just a meme anymore. It was funny for awhile but now it's just old.

Vista really isn't all that bad. I still have XP machines (and Linux, and OS X, and Solaris, and OS/2 even) but I don't mind my Vista machine at all. I also run a lot of old apps on it just fine.

Of Course They Should... (3, Insightful)

I Want to be Anonymo (1312257) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994579)

but I still wouldn't buy it.

Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994581)

Now that Bill Gates is retired from Microsoft, the editors should get with the times and lose that dated, painfully unfunny logo they use for Microsoft.

Most people probably wouldn't get the Borg reference to begin with, and now Bill Gates era at MS is officially in the past.

Only MS gets this ridiculous logo..now its finally the time they get rid of it.

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (5, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994627)

I vote for a chair breaking a Window :D

No, I'm serious. Get a picture from the Microsoft Headquarters, and from a building, add a chair breaking a window and falling to the floor. Cartoonize it, and you're done! :)

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (4, Insightful)

StarReaver (1070668) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994835)

Or you could just put an image of a monkey up there...

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (4, Funny)

antdude (79039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995053)

How about a dancing egg'ed Steve Ballmer who is throwing a chair? :)

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995095)

Microsoft's own logo of a disintegrating screen is silly and appopriate enough. As was their choice of a theme song (for the "Start me up" advertisements) that contained the line "it makes a grown man cry".

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (5, Funny)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994867)

If anyone doesn't get the Borg reference, they don't belong here, they should be at the geek office turning in their geek card (or educating themselves, whichever they prefer).

Re:Time to Get Rid of The Gates Borg Icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23995029)

Most people probably wouldn't get the Borg reference

You might be thinking too little of western familiarity with Star Trek TNG and/or too highly of the average /.er. Anyway, using the founder of the company as the icon for the company seems to make sense.

oh come on (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994583)

I don't have any problem bashing Windows, but being modular is exactly the change from XP to Vista and what Server 08 does even better. Which is it going to be, that Vista should go monolithic for performance or that Vista should go modular for ease of design?

Re:oh come on (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994665)

But really, being modular should allow for more flexibility and speed. But for Vista... That didn't really happen. Being modular should have allowed for more compact installs, but still Vista takes up 5 gigs of HD space on a basic install.

Re:oh come on (1)

Godji (957148) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994903)

Not really. It actually warns you if you ever try to install it on an empty partition of size less than 35 GB, and when installed on a 20 GB partition (all by itself, nothing else there yet), it refuses to install service pack 1 due to lack of space.

I know storage is cheap, but come on. It's just a kernel with a GUI. What the fuck?

Re:oh come on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994899)

Modular should not mean you have to pay to upgrade your OS for more features. Can I release 15 versions of Ubuntu, each with different things installed by default, and say it's modular too?

Why Not for Linux? (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994587)

Why bother pretending that Microsoft will do anything with Windows that's interesting at all, when it's clearly spending its time and money making "more of the same", and its design constraints are clearly defined by its corporate interests.

How about just making a version of Linux like that? If more work also makes Wine work a lot more reliably for most Windows apps, the whole thing could do a lot better than Microsoft at making "Windows" users happier.

Re:Why Not for Linux? (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994709)

Because most Linux users want apps made for Linux, not Windows and then emulating the Windows API on top of Windows. WINE is great and has uses but basing a distro around it really isn't a great idea as WINE changes so quickly. Also, most Linux distros that are popular don't even try to act like Windows (Ubuntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora, etc) and the ones that do act like Windows usually fade into obscurity, (Linux XP, etc).

Re:Why Not for Linux? (2, Insightful)

i_love_unix (1123543) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994823)

You still run into the problem of either:

A.) You need to make Linux or WINE 100% Windows API-compliant, including Direct X support for gamers who would otherwise make the switch (good luck with that short of Microsoft actually granting unrestricted access to full documentation of the APIs and/or source code; neither of which I would ever expect to happen). On top of this, you would have to devise a fool-proof way of installing legacy Windows apps either natively or under WINE. By "fool-proof" I mean "as easy as installing it on Windows" not "hack this .rc file, modify these environment variables and add such-and-such directory to your $PATH".

B.) Proprietary software vendors writing their applications for Linux and wrestling with both the implications of working with Open Source code and licensing and trying to DRM their products at the same level they do for Windows, the latter of which would meet with *major* resistance from the Open Source community.

Scenario B shouldn't be a show-stopper over the long-term, but I think it will prevent any major migration to open source platforms from Windows until people stop seeing Windows as The Only Choice (TM).

Re:Why Not for Linux? (2, Informative)

tie_guy_matt (176397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994897)

Check out ReactOS. Clone of the NT kernel so it can use windows driver. Uses WINE for the windows API. Everything is clean reverse engineered and free as in speech.

In a word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994589)

No

The "7" refers to nothing in particular (4, Informative)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994591)

Actually it stands for Windows NT 7.0. Here's a quick run-down:
NT 3.1
NT 3.5
NT 3.51
NT 4.0
NT 5.0 (aka Windows 2000)
NT 5.1 (aka Windows XP)
NT 5.2 (aka Windows 2003)
NT 6.0 (aka Windows Vista/2008)

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (1, Informative)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994735)

Actually it stands for Windows NT 7.0. Here's a quick run-down:
NT 3.1
NT 3.5
NT 3.51
NT 4.0
NT 5.0 (aka Windows 2000)
NT 5.1 (aka Windows XP)
NT 5.2 (aka Windows 2003)
NT 6.0 (aka Windows Vista/2008)

And subtract 2.1 since they started at 3.1. Math. MS should look into that stuff some day.

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (4, Informative)

BlueCollarCamel (884092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994793)

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (2, Informative)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994849)

Windows 1.x/2.x/3.x/95/98/Me have no code in common with Windows NT

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (1)

BlueCollarCamel (884092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994885)

NT 3.1 was released not too long after 3.1... I was just postulating that they "continued" from there.

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (2, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994801)

No WAYYY!!!

I'm sorry for being so harsh, but have you been Drinking Bleach [slashdot.org] ? What else would the 7 stand for? The seven deadly sins? Well.. on second thought...

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (1)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994963)

RTFA

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (-1)

MCSEBear (907831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994855)

I hate it when people get this one wrong.

Windows 1.0 = Windows NT 3.1 (Microsoft's Marketing department called the first version of NT version 3.1 because that was the version of the old DOS based Windows they were selling at the time. NT was newer so it just couldn't start with a lower version number!)

Windows 1.5 = Windows NT 3.5.1

Windows 2.0 = Windows NT 4.0

Windows 3.0 = Windows 2000

Windows 3.1 = Windows XP

Windows 4.0 = Windows Vista

So the next version of Windows that people are calling Windows 7 is actually going to be Windows 4.1 since they say they are going to stick with the Vista architecture on the next version.

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994917)

I think, if nothing else, Microsoft has earned the right to determine the version numbers for its software. The previous numbers are actually correct according to Microsoft. Once you design and build your own OS from scratch, then you can change the version numbers however you like.

Re:The "7" refers to nothing in particular (3, Interesting)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995007)

That makes no sense, given that there old DOS based system when through "Windows 1.0", "Windows 2.0", "Windows 3.0" and "Windows 3.1".

Are you saying that Windows 3.1 was not Windows?

frist pawst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994595)

frist!!
someone who knows nothing about OS teaching people who know about OS to write an OS. TFA is a troll.

Re:frist pawst (4, Funny)

Drinking Bleach (975757) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994669)

I would argue that the New York Times is better qualified to write an OS than Microsoft is...

No (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994597)

Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?


As someone who started developing applications for Windows in 1991 and stopped around 1999, I doubt it. Better let legacy applications (and the whole x86 mess too, BTW) fade away, they have gone far beyond their useful life.

Re:No (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994723)

It strikes me that most of the programs written during the 90s could be done relatively efficiently via emulation. Realistically most of the programs from the early to mid 90s were written with system requirements which are only a very small fraction of what an entry level computer of today has.

Emulation is always going to be slower, but if you're targeting such a slow environment it should be far less of a problem than miring down everything to run a program which only a small fraction of the user base even remembers. And realistically the performance issue is going to be less and less with each month if done properly. If done well the people who really need it might even be willing to pay for it.

DOS support as it is tends to be slow enough and unreliable enough that I just run those apps in dosbox anyways. Why not just do the same for all pre-win2k OSes and just provide an emulation environment.

And with the switch to 64bits this is as good a time as any.

While that's the best way, they could also go the freebsd route and just have compatibility packages which older versions can use. I really doubt that it's a good idea for MS to use, it seems to work well enough for the *BSD guys, but it's a different set up.

Re:No (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994769)

Why emulation when you can use a compatability layer such as WINE running on Windows to transfer legacy API's to the new Windows 7 API? Emulation usually requires to emulate the CPU and so it will be slower, but a compatability layer will speed up it and make it be more seamless.

Why not? (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994837)

An IBCS-like layer in Windows plus WINE-like shim DLLs would be quite sufficient for the majority of legacy code. In fact, if they used IBCS as a starting point, they could also suppor legacy Solaris, legacy Unixware and legacy Linux applications as well, with very minimal effort. As for retaining Intel support, I'd say that at minimum, there has to be Intel binaries, although the adoption of the Cell processor might not be a bad idea. Sun's T2 is too expensive and they'd never be able to scale production up fast enough, although the benefit to Microsoft of an open-source processor is that they could shift some of the core routines and helper functions into the CPU itself. (They have the money to sway Sun into applying the patches at the fab plants.)

bad idea (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995035)

You try telling millions of nerds that the new (and now decent) Windows PB (Post Bill) will no longer run any of the games they've played for the last 20 years. I'd punch someone if I could no longer run my games from the 90's. Do I play them a lot? No. But sometimes I'm in the mood for Baldur's Gate or Heroes of Might and Magic (1, 2, or 3) or some other old game.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23995043)

Indeed. End of life it. Do what Apple did - use a 'classic' enviroment that worked, but was painful enough that people were strongly encouraged to move onwards into the land of Mac OS X native. Didn't take long for basically a full transfer. (Face facts; it's basically what they're doing now; allowing a virtual XP image to boot under vista to run applications that don't like Vista.)

64 bit marks the first time Microsoft have actually had the guts to say "nope, we're not going hard-out for backwards compatability" and have dropped the 16 bit windows and MS-DOS subsystems. (Exception being the ACME installer and the Installshield 16 bit wrapper thing; I think Microsoft deal specially with those two individual exe files).

Just move on, Microsoft. And stop inventing a new API du jour.

What really annoys me is microsoft frequently do 95% of things. They'll do most of the heavy engineering behind something - like the indexing service or backwards compability in Windows. Then they'll miss the final five percent - like actually putting a useable U/I on the indexing service - which makes an utter mockery of the 95% engineering rendering it worse than useless (as it now sucks windows resorces, takes space and needs to be supported). The stupidest was taking windows help' program out of vista for no discernable reason, torpedoing all the backwards compatability engineering.

(Except, of course, you have all the *cruft* of backwards compability without it actually giving you backwards compatiabilty.)

And, yeah, this is mostly all in the API levels and user interface, not the actual NT Kernel team (who appear to be fairly competent.)

Hold on a second (2, Insightful)

lastomega7 (1060398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994603)

âoeOur approach with Windows 7,â he wrote, âoeis to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7.â I must have missed something. When did the investment start to pay off?

Not gonna work / we already have it (5, Insightful)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994619)

Apple could do that because they were much smaller than Microsoft, and had a small but relatively loyal customer base, and their rewrite did pay off, as people are generally very happy with OS X and don't care about the incompatibility with OS 9 and older anymore.

Microsoft has a huge userbase with much less loyalty, and generally a huge existing investment in software.

We don't need a MS Windows rewrite, we've already got Ubuntu, because that's essentially what the article author wants: an operating system that Just Works[tm], even at the expense of compatibility. That's a pretty good description of any popular Linux distribution.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (0, Troll)

ebs16 (1069862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994697)

I am a big fan of Ubuntu and have several servers and workstations running the OS, but it is far from being an operating system that "Just Works". Configuring Ubuntu still basically requires significant command line work. It may Just Work in a couple of years, but at this point Windows is still a safer bet for the average consumer... well, XP, anyway.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1, Troll)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994779)

Configuring Ubuntu still basically requires significant command line work.

Nonsense. Yes, I have systems that have required a lot of command-line work, but then again, I have a custom-created LDAP directory server complete with roaming profile support that "JUst WOrks" with Windows and Linux clients, a custom Intranet with a web portal, web-based e-mail and calendaring, Kerberos for security, complete with single sign on support, etc.

IF I just wanted a basic desktop, I can (and have) just ran the install and everything Just Works.

Stop spreading FUD.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (2, Funny)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994795)

I am a big fan of Windows and have several servers and workstations running the OS, but it it far from bing an operating system that "Just Works". Configuring Windows still basically requires significant registry editing work. It may Just Work in a couple of years, but at this point Mandriva is still a safer bet for the average consumer.

I agree that Linux still has it's problems, but I don't think windows is any better in a lot of ways. I mean, it can't even scale a desktop image for the wallpaper while maintaining aspect ratio. What kind of joe sixpack OS can't do that? Do you expect people to edit their own photos? Windows simply thrives because it's what people are used to. It isn't because it is any better than the competition. Truth be told, if we were all using the actual best available product, I would say that most of us would be using Macs. And that comes from somebody who doesn't really particularly like Apple.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994921)

Configuring Windows still basically requires significant registry editing work. It may Just Work in a couple of years, but at this point Mandriva is still a safer bet for the average consumer.

Eh? Just what are you configuring your Windows box to do? I've set up a lot of Windows machines in my time, and have never had to touch the registry to get them working for things your average user is going to be doing.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995011)

How about disabling the automatic reboot [askstudent.com] when windows updates itself one Windows XP home. I've configured a lot of Linux boxes without ever dropping to the command line. I've done a lot of windows machines without editing the registry. In most cases, you don't have to do much of either. But pretending it doesn't happen in either operating system just makes you look like you are in denial, or that you don't have that much experience with either.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1)

ebs16 (1069862) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994961)

Configuring Windows still basically requires significant registry editing work.

That's absurd. Aside from driver and software installations, which are more-or-less straightforward, one does not need to modify the registry (through regedit) to configure Windows.

Truth be told, if we were all using the actual best available product, I would say that most of us would be using Macs.

Agreed. I was working in the constraints of the parent post, which was in regards to Windows/Ubuntu. My next laptop purchase will be from Apple.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994813)

Ubuntu would fit all the requirements, apart from compatibility with what's on the market at the moment. That's the issue. Like it or not, Windows has a massive amount of hardware and software designed for it. Hardware and software people need to use.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (1)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994997)

I agree. Microsoft's customers are typically big business which would have no hesitation in engaging Microsoft in expensive and protracted litigation were the Redmond company to abandon them with a backwards compatibility breaking OS the way that Apple did with OS X. I have blogged [blogspot.com] on this further.

Re:Not gonna work / we already have it (4, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994999)

I would add that Apple did not do a full rewrite but, instead, adopted a stable, mature and very sophisticated OS from NeXT. Apart from that, OSX is very different from the classic MacOS and deeply incompatible. Any compatibility had to be bolted on its top.

Microsoft has nothing like it and will not buy an OS outside.

Or they could just grab any flavor of BSD, close it, build a Win32 susbsystem on top of it and sell it as Windows 8. They already did that with a TCP/IP stack.

Why is this news? (3, Insightful)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994621)

Oh, yeah, this is slashdot.
Microsoft already said they will build on Vista instead of going the microkernel way, and we have discussed that fact to death.
Windows 7 will not be "Fresh Air", to the delight of /.ers everywhere. I mean, imagine if MS actually delivered a wonderful, light OS! That would certainly be the end of /. as we know it!

Re:Why is this news? (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995013)

No. We would just be amazed they pulled that off.

Windows done right from the ground up (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994623)

WinCE. Pity about the name, though.

Re:Windows done right from the ground up (3, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995041)

Yeah... right... 16 processes, right?

CE is Windows done from the ground up, but it's not particularly elegant. And I _did_ write software for it. The 2002 model of the Brazilian electronic voting ballot runs Windows CE.

Writing for it is every bit as ugly as it is for desktop Windows.

Legacy application support (4, Insightful)

mashuren (886791) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994637)

"Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"

Well, considering the fact that Vista's all but killed the chance of running any software made before the year 2000, I'd have to say "no".

It's pretty bad when old Windows software is much more likely to run under Wine than with the latest version of Windows.

Re:Legacy application support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23995021)

>Well, considering the fact that Vista's all but killed the chance of running any software made before the year 2000, I'd have to say "no".

There is a lot in Vista to complain about but backwards compatibility isn't a problem in my experience.

My wife's XP computer died a few months ago and we ended up getting a Vista computer as a replacement as there were no XP machines available in our price range on short notice. Although much of her software is old (including Office 97) there was only one program that didn't work and it was written around 2004.

duh... its called Virtualization.... (2, Insightful)

Jettamann (25050) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994643)

full backward compatibility is trivial... the windows kernel and platform team will use transparent Virtualization of all the older windows kernels (XP and Vista) to support all old apps and drivers.

They should make a concerted effort to drop legacy (4, Insightful)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994645)

Keeping 'legacy' support has always been a nice excuse for not significantly upgrading the OS (or spring cleaning). Having tried to run many older programs under the promised legacy support (including the options to emulate previous versions of windows.) I can say that I've had small successes in keeping old software running on Windows.

To me it's always been an excuse to keep windows bloated, and not actually any effort to keep old software functional.

Re:They should make a concerted effort to drop leg (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994949)

I just had a great lesson in "legacy" support today when I bought a "Clifford the Big Red Dog" game for my son from the discount bin. "Supports Windows and Macintosh!" it said. On the old PPC iBook my son uses, the installer brings up the OS9 emulation stuff, which then seems to hang. So I try my work XP laptop, only to have the game announce "Requires a minimum of 256 colors" when I try to run it after the successful install. Only after lots of digging do I discover where I can find a dialog to set to 640x480 256 color graphics. (It certainly isn't in the main screen resolution dialog.)

This game is only eight years old. Heaven help you if you want to run software from the early 90s. And yet things aren't changed because in theory (though not in practice) Windows is backwards compatible all the way to DOS.

Uhhh . . . NT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994647)

Seriously kids. We did this already. Windows NT.

It should be noted that when Apple decided the Copland project wasn't going to rejuvenate the Mac OS they decided to license an OS from another vendor. One of the four major contenders was, in fact, Windows NT.

In fact, if you got back to Nextstep OS X is several years OLDER than windows NT.

The danger of this kind of rearchitecting project which we hear of to no end from the popular technology press is that it doesn't actually solve anything. In many ways Vista itself was an attempt to rebuild Windows from the ground up, But that simply made it a muddled, confused bag of broken promises and half baked technologies. The only good thing in Windows is what it inherits from XP and 2k - the large existing base of Win32 applications.

Yes, it's been done before (5, Informative)

LoTonah (57437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994667)

Windows NT had an emulation layer that handled 16-bit apps. OS X had Rosetta and the Classic environments. And Microsoft now owns Virtual PC.

They have the technology to make Windows a clean OS with emulation errors for doing whatever legacy OS you want. They just seem too lazy to do it.

Fluff piece (5, Insightful)

ejdmoo (193585) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994671)

He really doesn't know anything about the internals of the Windows kernel or the Mach kernel, he's just assuming that since the NT kernel is "monolithic" and the Mach kernel is a "microkernel" then the latter must be better, and the reason it's better is it is "smaller."

If you want to know where the real problems with Windows lie, they're in the API and the shell, not the kernel. The NT kernel is perfectly fine. See this Ars write-up by someone knowlegeable:
http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/what-microsoft-could-learn-from-apple.ars [arstechnica.com]

I'd like to point out that Microsoft employs one of the original authors of the Mach kernel, Rick Rashid. He runs Microsoft Research. Look it up.

Re:Fluff piece (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994775)

I'd like to point out that Microsoft employs one of the original authors of the Mach kernel, Rick Rashid. He runs Microsoft Research. Look it up.

Being put in MS 'Research' is the kiss of death if you want to make something that MS will ship. They seem to hire those brilliant people and give them massive funding only to keep them happy and prevent them from working for a competitor who might want to actually SHIP something brilliant they would come up with. Rather like IBM, only substitute incompetence in place of amorality as motivation.

Re:Fluff piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994937)

He also doesn't seem to understand that Windows 7 is based on the Windows NT codebase, and as such shares little with Win 3.1 and prior. The lineage is not that long. In terms of major versions in that line, there was NT 3.1, 2k, and then vista. The versions in between added little. NT 3.1 was a complete rewrite of Windows from scratch.

Re:Fluff piece (5, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994969)

The Ars Technica piece is interesting, but I'm pretty skeptical about this whole idea of making radical changes in Windows and breaking backward-compatibility.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that there's a huge downside for the user when you break backward-compatibility. Apple actually did an amazing job of maintaining backward-compatibility when they made the switch from 68000 to powerpc, but when they brought out MacOS X, the backward compatibility was lousy. You could still run classic apps on X, but they typically worked very poorly -- some features wouldn't work, apps would crash, and it took a really long time to start up the classic environment. Essentially Apple expected you to buy all new applications. Then Apple kept on bringing out frequent point-upgrades to MacOS X, and every single one cost a significant amount of money. My wife bought one of the early lamp-shaped iMacs, and we stayed on the upgrade treadmill for a while, but it really got old spending money every six months or so for a new version of the OS, so at this point we're still running an old version of MacOS on that (expensive) machine. Now we basically can't run any new software, because it only works on newer versions of MacOS X.

It's also worth looking at it from MS's point of view. They're a monopoly, and their interest is in keeping users sucking at the tit. Maintaining backward compatibility has worked very well for them. One of the main things keeping Windows users from jumping ship for another OS is that they know their apps will continue to work. It's actually kind of amazing. I tech at a community college, and some of my colleagues are still using an old DOS shareware planetarium app. It still runs on Windows XP.

Re:Fluff piece (2, Insightful)

drhank1980 (1225872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995063)

I agree completely, this article is pure crap. The issues I have had with Vista all seem to be up near the top; with the worst being in the "idiot proof" user interface and control panels. I would agrue the one GOOD thing in Vista is its NT Kernel. In fact, the NT Kernel was so much better than what Apple had in OS 9 it probably one of the big reasons apple went to Mach.

Sure they can! (5, Funny)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994685)

Just switch to Mac and get parallels :P

Yeah, I know, not very funny. But does every comment have to be great?

Re:Sure they can! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994989)

And this is what makes Mac zealots so completely retarded in their arguments. Their solution to Windows problems is to buy a completely new system with a different OS... and dual boot with a Windows install on it.
Thanks, I'll save myself the $2000, the hassle of moving stuff over and reinstalling Windows and just stick with what I've got.

Die Monkey Boy (4, Interesting)

MCSEBear (907831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994693)

There was a time when a much leaner Microsoft highly respected and rewarded employees who could write good code. These were the people who rose to positions of responsibility. Today, Microsoft is run by Sales and Marketing and coders are viewed as an expense. Until this situation reverses itself, don't expect any improvement in the product they create. They are too stupid to realize their product is the code. Ballmer being from sales only reinforces this problem. Perhaps he should be moved to a chair throwing division that does the monkey boy dance, and someone who can both create great code themselves and manage coders should be brought in as CEO.

Re:Die Monkey Boy (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994853)

Precisely. Other OSes are designed to be used, while Windows is designed to be sold.

Re:Die Monkey Boy (1)

flnca (1022891) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994877)

But Ballmer himself once said that Microsoft lacks good developers. Question is if the middle management would recognize one if they'd see one. The problem you describe exists for many companies nowadays. They shell out inferior code and expect it to be successful. No more investing in the good coder, it seems.

Do not want (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994731)

When I.T. professionals and consumers got a look at Vista, they all had this same question for Microsoft: That's it?

Vista as delivered is significantly different from Vista as promised [pctoday.com] . So different as to be perhaps unrecognizable. It breaks everything, fixes nothing that wasn't already fixed with third party software, and expands Microsoft's victory over Novell on the network by being consistently unreliable with Novell networking.

I was wondering if this NYTimes article would hit slashdot. It reads a little like the author's an Apple fan, but not offensively so.

While the author issues Microsoft some good guidance, they won't take it. They can't hear us at all. It's time to switch.

Question (0, Redundant)

Foamy (29271) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994753)

"Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"

Answer: No.

Next question.

They'll pry my copy of Word 1.0.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994763)

out of my cold dead hands!

How about consolidate and move on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994777)

Seriously, and it pains me to say this, but windows does the job pretty well, and most recent features have been nothing special and/or just plain irritating. And the computer world has moved from being a world of competing, hard-to-use (for joe average) OSes that almost do the job, to a world where we have several OSes (windows, linux, whatever apple is calling their latest) that all work so well that most people don't even register their existence unless they fail. Seems to me that given this the best thing MS could do to ensure their futures is to do one last push to clear out the bugs and polish the edges, then set the result more-or-less is concrete and move on to newer areas with better prospects for future growth.

Windows' Legacy is too Cumbersome (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994815)

Vista proved this. Even though it dropped Win16 support (iirc), that turned out to be inconsequential, since no one's really been doing Win16 development for over a decade.

Which leaves Win32, going all the way back to NT4, then 95, 98, 2k, XP, 2k3, Vista, and 2k8. Eight releases which changed, added to, and muddled the Win32 API, but very little is deprecated, and even less has been removed, all for the sake of the legacy apps. Not much design improvement during this time either, as the industries based on Win32's flaws (ie, anti-virus) continue to thrive.

If Windows 7 is not a shining, slimmed down beacon of flawlessness, Windows and MS are doomed to be crushed under the weight of the legacy they have nurtured over the years.

nytime is smoking pot (1)

LymeM (1314985) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994817)

I laugh every time I hear someone say that Windows has become so bloated, so slow, that MS needs to start from scratch and loose all the backward compatibility. Then I think of every time MS releases a new OS, and the whole world is complaining how their 15 year old apps no longer work, how their hardware manufacturers haven't created drivers, etc.. MS can, and could make New Windows, with a backward compatibility layer. Just expect everyone and their three dogs to be complaining that MS should have simply forgone the new and improved the old.

Yes. Here's how : (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994819)

- develop Microsoft Virtual Machine to perfection
- make sure it runs perfect with win 7
- continue to provide it freely as you are doing now
- youre done

thats rather easy aint it.

Re:Yes. Here's how : (2, Funny)

pohl (872) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995081)

Ooh, what a fun game...let me try:

How to make a Boeing 747

- start with a long tin can
- put wings and engines on it
- put some chairs in it
- you're done

Absolutly yes! (1)

ROMRIX (912502) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994821)

Can Windows move forward with a completely new, fast, and secure OS and still keep legacy application support?"


Ship it with VirtualPC or allow support for VMware and throw in a free copy of Windows XP of which ever flavor the user likes with real time backup/shadow copy/whatever and you've done it!
Just have the new secure O/S or security program scan the virtual network link for abhorrent data and quarantine it.

legacy application support (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994863)

Actually, i bet they could retain legacy application support using Virtual Machine technology.

Re:legacy application support (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995065)

Isn't that pretty much what Apple did with Classic in early Mac OS X until they finally put the knife through it?

don't bother (2, Insightful)

nadaou (535365) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994891)

quasi-informed op-ed piece. don't bother.

better to spend your time reading the classic piece about why software projects fail and why "version 2" is the most dangerous. a central point of that is "don't throw the baby out with the bathwater", ie it is a fallacy to believe that your 2nd version will be less buggy than the first. it will probably be just as buggy, only less well tested.
I hope a learned CS major can provide the link, as I'm drawing a blank on the author.

Open or broken Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23994967)

Fresh air happens only when the windows are opened (or broken). Which one is more likely, Open Windows or broken Windows.

Meh. (4, Insightful)

zx-15 (926808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23994975)

I think the author of the article doesn't realize the difference between the legacy code and kernel architecture. Kernel architecture of windows is fine - its a hybrid kernel, which in general similar to Linux, you're not able to run in HPC on it, but hey, it is better than DOS! It's the legacy code that creates so much bloat, and swapping out the kernel won't change anything if the same mountain of code still runs.

Of course Microsoft could create virtualization layer, but then Linux has Qemu, Xen and Wine, and OS X has Parallels and Wine, and of course there is VMware, so if Microsoft would ever support legacy code through virtualization, alternative implementation of it would be release pretty quickly, and everybody here knows how Microsoft likes competition.

My guess there will be dying for the next 10-15 agonizing years, dragging any progress in the industry with them.

Get rid of the registry (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#23995033)

The lamest idea of the last 15 or so years. The new Windows would just forward legacy registry calls to some simple program which would create text files in the program directory. Then read them back, eventually transitioning to the old Windows 3.1 style configs.

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