Technologizer: The Future of Windows


By Harry McCracken

In 1985, almost all PCs sat on desktops, the Internet was a Defense Department research project, and the cell phone revolution had barely gotten underway. It was also the year that Microsoft launched a DOS front-end called Windows 1.0.

Over the past quarter century, Windows has evolved many times, and it will change again in light of Microsoft’s investments in cloud services, mobile platforms, and other new technologies. And as the way people compute and communicate morphs faster than ever, the challenges ahead for Windows are huge.

With that in mind, Technologizer asked some of the industry’s big brains about what Microsoft needs to do to keep its operating system relevant in the years to come. Their advice ranges from merely simplifying the interface to borrowing ideas from other Microsoft products such as the Xbox to giving the OS a complete reboot. Here’s what they (and we) have to say.

–David Worthington, story editor

[This post is excerpted with Harry’s permission from his Technologizer blog.]

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22 thoughts on “Technologizer: The Future of Windows”

  1. ihavewin.7and they give you xp modeso you can run older programs and not one of my older programswould work on it because my os. was win.xp notwin.xp pro which they give you so none of my programs ever worked anyway they should tell people it is win. xp mode and not xp mode microsolf is full of shit over charge for their junk and i will change to a different os. my next build above it says mail will not be published why not then why submit a comment yours truely sandy casselman good luck all

  2. I purchased W7 Pro on special three months before the official release. The OS generally works well for me; I prefer it to XP for a few reasons, none of which would sit well with the technocrats. The reason for Pro was the availability of “XP Mode” within Windows Virtual Machine. “XP Mode” almost works for some of my older applications, but to get the work done I dual-boot to XP Pro.
    I like Ubuntu Linux, but a lot of hardware compatibility problems get in the way. If I could get off my lazy backside and get to the peak of the learning curve with Ubuntu, I would use it exclusively. For the moment, I’m anchored to W7/XP.

  3. Gee, this sounds like what people where saying about Win-me ( bad one )and very much like Win-Vista. Boy was there an uprising over that one and its still not right but close. I think I will stay right here for now and waite a year or two before i start think about Win-7. If everyone could wait then it would forse Windows to move faster on improvments. HA! No chance.

  4. The things that will keep Windows relevant for years to come are these.

    1) The sheeple that have to have the latest and greatest for no particular reason.

    2) Marketing to the sheeple, it’s a simple thing really, because they have been told it is thebgreatest and personal computers as they know them will cease to exist if they don’t upgrade.

    3) Because of years of anti-competitive and illegal business practices Microsoft succeeded in locking people in. That was their goal to begin with, they succeeded, and now they just continue to reap the benefits.

    4) Because of those tactics, 90% of the people who use computers are not even aware an alternative exists.

    Finally, Microsoft will always remain relevant, because people have a hard time doing anything differently then they have always done. That is shown here by a few folks who can’t even come to grips with a new version of windows, they will never/can’t learn any new operating systems because they struggle with using the same one they have had for years, aka with a new GUI slapped on it.

  5. Jerry Patterson

    I realize how hard it must be to monitor/scrutinize all posts that are put on your site, but there was one from “Ray” on March 11th (5:43am) that should not have been allowed. I know! There are people out there who can’t carry on a conversation without using the “f” word but it sure would be nice if they wouldn’t put it in print. There are lots of young people who read these posts and I’ll just say, “why can’t we be nice for their sake”. Dictionarys are full of adjectives that can be used in place of “f”. Thanks for allowing me to respond.

  6. I just love the fact that I can choose what OS I want, when I want and how I want. I love them all !!! Each OS has its own ups and downs in my honest opinion….I use them all 🙂

  7. Just get a large HDD and istall whatever OS’s you want on it (Linux, XP, Windows 7, and Vista). Install all these on one HDD and take your choice to use anyone at anytime. Do whatever you want too using PC.

  8. When I felt I was being extorted by Microsoft to dump XP (the first Microsoft OS I was finally pleased with) in favor of the reputed “lemon” called Vista, I did what I had been threatening to do since the day I purchased my first PC – switch to Macintosh. Contrary to my fears, I had no difficulty making the “transition”, found an abundance of excellent applications that no only equaled, but surpassed the performance of their PC counterparts. May I also say that MANY of them were free from the open source community. I found not need for costly security subscriptions to keep all the malware from reducing my PC to a $3K paper weight. I now use ClamXav, a FREE antivirus application, and I’ve honestly never discovered one contaminated file since I made the switch over two years ago. I no longer spend hours running defrags, scans, or performing a litany of tweaks to maintain my machine (nothing personal PC Pitstop). I now spend those hours doing what I enjoy; what I originally spent all those hard earned dollars for – to compute.
    I’d switch back to “The Dark Side” if they all of a sudden decided to adopt a newfound respect for the consumer, relax their ironclad proprietary stance, and engineer a streamlined, reliable and relatively well defended operating system, but let’s be real. I’m afraid for now the only way out of Microsoft Hell is Macintosh.

  9. A point that most complainers about windows are missing is that no matter what OS becomes top dog, that product WILL become as quirky as any Win product. It won’t be able to keep up with new products/drivers (LINUX) and those with malicious intent (spammers, hackers, virus developers) will make the dominant OS their pet object/target of affection.

    I have Macs and PCs. With proper diligence and maintenance, I have had only one major issue/attack that required basic sanitizing of one PC on my network/system since 1985. Lucky, maybe but considering the HUGE numbers of hardware/software variations from ALL of the applications, Windows has done a fairly remarkable job of providing a common OS worldwide.

    The one Win OS that really tanked was Win-ME. Yup, that one was a real stinker.

    Whatever your bitch is about a Win platform, get over it. It is NOT going to go away AND it WILL continue to evolve, unlike some of you flat OS earthers our there. 🙂

  10. I am so close to going linux. I own or maintain at least 6 computers. Some laptops some desktops. If I have to go buy windows for all of them every time something doesn’t work with the older versions of windows or when Bill decides it’s time to stop supporting the older version it could come close to half a paycheck to upgrade. Compare that to a free platform and it gets easier to choose. Platforms are a necessity, the junk that comes after is what should be sold. That way we get the basics and pay for what else we want at a minimal cost.

  11. Blah Linux, blah opensore crap. blabla apple. Oh yes i am a revolutionary! Downn with the establishment! Geekware instead of usability. Get alife..Che Gelinuxvaras
    PS: and chrome is a piece of unneeded junk too. Tired of being not able to display this , not able to display that, needs a plugin to display that.. you got too much time on your hands it seems!

  12. Was a Dos user back before Windows came along and will have to admit those were the days. Over the years I’ve used the various Windows version some being complete nightmares to say the least.

    Will have to admit that with Windows 7 they did a pretty good job of it even my games that I ran under XP run Flawlessly under 7.

    I’ve tried Linux and the problem with it is the fact that it don’t or wont run allot of my games or programs. Even my Logitech blue tooth mouse and keyboard wouldn’t run under it.

    As for Apple the think about apple is it’s cost. I can get build a pc for allot less than the cost of an apple. And allot of the RPG games that I like to play won’t run under Apple.

    So until something better comes along we have Windows. I don’t care for the fact that M$ makes you buy a whole office suite just to use one program say MS Word. Why don’t they bundle them indvidually.

  13. MS will do what they’ve always done with new versions of Windows;

    1. Require an absolutely state of the art system to run their supposedly “more efficient” version of the OS.

    2. Add more restrictions and digital locks on what the user can do with their system.

    3. Ensure that backward compatibility sucks so that it breaks as many older games as possible.

    4. Only release DirectX for the latest version so that gamers will be forced to “upgrade” when all the game companies start using it.

    5. Add lots of little convenience features that make life marginally easier for users, but which open up gaping security holes and which then have to be turned off by users.

    6. Drop support for older versions of Windows as soon as they possibly can.

    7. Promote Windows as the star of the show, the end-all, be-all of owning a computer, rather than being the support software that enables you to run third-party software.

    8. Change tons of things that users have gotten used, for no apparent reason.

    9. Make using a computer even more abstract so that the average user has absolutely no clue what’s going on behind the scenes or how to perform even simple file operations manually.

    10. Tell everyone that THIS version of Windows is the best ever and that all past versions are crap.

  14. When people are on camera, they fear of being quoted, so they say little or none at all. When they can speak freely, very few have much good to say about windows especially Vista. The push for clutter and end result of using only about 5% of this junk, says it all. The industry has most users in a state of parinoia and addicted to the need for constant change. What ever happened to simple, short,sweet and basic. You can always add the various bells and whistles piece meal, if your time and environment calls for it. I agree totally with most of the negative feedback. I firmly believe all the virus’s and all the other need for security, is mainly a industry thing, to see how much havoc they can invoke in order to protect their product, create extra market or to create complete havock when people steal their ideas. Patents are a thing of the past, raising hell and cain is the in thing today. What else is new?

  15. I agree with John P Guckel, Although Chrome OS is designed for net books (final release will be laptop size) it will be lightning fast, some say as quick as it is to switch on your TV. Everything is done in the cloud, so no need to download, thus no more viruses, and no need to worry about back-ups because your files will be stored on not one, but two main frame servers (second one being a back-up). Finally the whole project will be open source.
    So long M$

  16. Well when linux gets around to supplying all my drivers. I am with AOL. They don’t support Linux and there are no drivers for my netgear router. Is there any good in changing?

  17. After futsing around with an older and slower Dell with Windows XP I decided that I wanted to stop buying computers with Windows operating systems that were one or two generations old. (Because they were cheaper.) So, I got my Gateway with Windows 7 as my Christmas gift to me.

    WHAT A MISTAKE !! Programs I had on the computer using XP (like a very easy to use fax using my all-in-one and Picture It!) the were not supported on unlucky 7.

    The programs on Windows 7 are harder to use and don’t give the same results. I’m out $150 to get Photoshop for still and video editing.

    As soon as I can I’m going to switch to Apple.

  18. Carolyn Boselli

    I upgraded to windows 7 from XP as soon as it shipped. I have not been unhappy. I can un most of my apps and games (many of which won’t run in Linux), and I have another xp box for those that won’t run. And Corel Office Suite runs must fine, without the security problems that Office has, and with features it doesn’t. (Reveal codes, and easy print selection are just two of the reasons I won’t touch MS Office.) OK, it asks for security clearance every time I run Opera, but that’s a relatively small price to pay for using the best browser. I do have one printer that won’t run with any Windows later than ME, but …. I don’t need wide paper very often.

    Translation: if you are willing to experiment with apps to find the best for you, Windows 7 is an excellent OS. Much the best I’ve seen from MS yet. But I do miss the CoCo3….

  19. Windows just needs to go fully open source, then we can worry about how to improve it and make it better ourselves 😉
    I’ll never understand how they think they can charge so much money for something that they think is gold when in actuality. it is a pile of doodoo. People are also tired of all the proprietorship and having to buy software, like Office. Why isn’t Office more compatible. Why must it feel the need to monopolize and corner the format in documents?
    You would think, with the ridiculous price they charge for it, that would work on any platform and make documents that can be viewed and edited by anyone, using third party apps, those who cant afford the “not all that” office suite.
    Charging money for Windows, and then charging money for the software needed to run on it is just fucking retarded. No wonder no one likes Windows. The Man needs to be taken down.

  20. Johyn P. Guckel - Milwaukee, WI U.S.A.

    I find it quite humorous that when I opened this page I find a guy promoting LINUX, nothing wrong with that, and to the left are Amazon Ads to buy Windows products. I like LINUX, and agree totally with Bruce Willenberg. But personally? I think that once the Google Chrome O.S. has finished it’s “Shakedown Cruise” it will surpass all. Just explore Android on an HTC phone and see what I mean!

  21. SIR/MADAM:
    Free yourself switch to LINUX. Why pay good money for Windows and then have daily aggravation of updating to keep virus,malware,hackers off of your computer plus being nagged to death about activation. I payed for it and activated it ONCE why be nagged to death.I have Xp on a computer for courses that require Windows. Be Happy get LINUX………………

  22. You jest, surely? The PC-using community is getting to grips with Win7 (I’m upgrading at the weekend, from XP), and personally, right now I couldn’t care less about the next version of Windows. Give us a break!

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