Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Will Windows Vista End Microsoft Monolith?

We’ve written a lot in Syntagma about Windows Vista and what it will mean for Microsoft as a business and as an increasingly monolithic company.

Now John Naughton of the UK’s Observer Sunday newspaper has spelt out the future with some clarity. First, though, you have to bear in mind that The Observer is a “left wing” paper, so has a natural affinity with the open-source software model. With desk-top Linux as it is, however, it’s not at all clear that the future lies there. But let’s keep an open mind about that.

Naughton describes the slow agony of the Vista development process very well. “Never again”, is his sensible conclusion. The fault, he rightly says, is the perceived need for “backward compatibility” (using old files and processes) which stifles innovation, plus Vista’s monolithic architecture which had to be scrapped in 2004 and completely reworked.

Naughton then zeros-in on Virtualization — “a key technology that enables a single machine to run several operating systems (or modules thereof) in parallel — to deal with the backwards compatibility problem.”

“Virtualization is the Next Big Thing in computing, and the lesson of Vista is that Microsoft will have to embrace it to survive in the operating system market.”

The problem for Microsoft is that the leader in the technology is Xensource, a company that began life in Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory. Ironically, not only is the lab housed in the William Gates Building, but Xen’s core technology is open source. Eventually, when a deal is done with Microsoft, Xensource could become the most sought-after company on the planet.

Isn’t this a good investment opportunity then? Not so fast. “If you were thinking of investing, however, I’m afraid you’ve missed the boat. John Doerr, the world’s greatest venture capitalist (Sun Microsystems, Compaq, Lotus, Intuit, Genentech, Millennium, Netscape, Amazon and Google, inter alia), got there before you.”

So the “Syntagma Solution” is probably on the cards after all?

Leave a Reply