You may be aware that Microsoft is readying a new operating system. It’s been dubbed Windows 7. When it is released, you can expect brass bands, dancing girls and mighty huzzahs. But why?
Windows runs your machine. It’s the middleman. It tells your programs and your computer how to work together. In geekese, it manages resources. Don’t worry about that.
Does this sound exciting? It doesn’t to me. It sounds like the transmission in my car.
So why does Microsoft bang the drums? And, really, what do you need?
Let us return to the days of yesteryear, when MS-DOS ruled the PC land. You’d get this on your computer screen: C: 1/4. To the right of the backslash blinked the cursor. That wasn’t particularly intuitive. People wanted something better. Thus was born the graphical user interface. Buttons, links, formatting to click on. Today’s Windows is a very advanced GUI; so is Mac’s OS X.
Windows improved all through the 1990s. Then, in 2001, Windows XP appeared. It didn’t crash. It didn’t cause trouble at all. People just loved it.
Jump to January 2007. Windows Vista appeared. Bombastic promotion. Events to draw crowds. But the old flying-out-the-doors spirit wasn’t there. The “experts” said Vista was a memory hog, it had too many problems, people didn’t want it. I say people stuck with XP.
See, people don’t just go out and buy a new operating system. They buy computers with the new Windows. But, this time, they didn’t need to upgrade. Why spend $800 when you like XP?
I need to know new technology. I bought a half-dozen computers in January 2007. All had Vista. The hardware has been a pain. Vista has performed flawlessly.
So, now comes Windows 7. The guys are looking forward to the dancing girls. And we will switch; we have to be out-front. But most people couldn’t care less. They get their operating system with their computer. And they still like XP, which is now eight years old. Or they like Vista.
Why does Microsoft bother with this extravaganza? That’s a good question. And I don’t know for sure. But I have a theory. (It’s possible that 800 people thought of it before me. If you’re one, please be nice.)
Microsoft watchers think nearly all profits come from Windows and Office. (This decade, we have had Office 2000, 2002 (XP), 2003 and 2007). The rest of Microsoft’s software is peanuts.
When the umpteenth Windows version appears, Microsoft isn’t really pushing Windows. It’s selling computers. Nearly everyone gets the new operating system with the computer. No computer sales, no Windows sales. (I’m not counting early adopting geeks. Microsoft can’t live on them.)
Most people probably like their machines. I don’t see a big blastoff for Windows 7. If you like XP or Vista, stick with it.
This is a terrible problem for Microsoft. Coming down the road are Google and the Cloud. Google is believed to have a million servers, more or less.
The logical use for those servers is cloud computing. You get an old computer out of the closet. On it, you install a free, small Linux operating system. But the real operating system is on Google servers. You access them through the Internet. Ergo, the Cloud.
Most people hate buying new computers. They despise learning new software. The Cloud should cure both.
How much will it cost? Maybe nothing. Whatever, it will be less than today’s almost yearly changes.
I can’t be sure this is coming. But I would be willing to bet on it.
And where will it leave Microsoft, arguably the globe’s most powerful firm?
Less than a decade ago, newspapers were rich and powerful. Then, the Internet abruptly reshaped the news world. That could happen to Microsoft. Without Windows and Office, what does it really have for personal computers?
Kim Komando hosts the nation’s largest talk radio show about computers and the Internet. To get the podcast or find the station nearest you, visit: www.komando.com/listen. To subscribe to Kim’s free e-mail newsletters, sign up at: www.komando.com/newsletters. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.