NYT article says we should throw away Windows
A couple months ago I posted about an article by some guy at Business Week, that made all sorts of rubbish claims about Windows and OS X.
Not to be outdone, Randall Stross at the NY times decided he could use some TechMeme love and wrote basically the same piece.
He says of Windows:
Painfully visible are the inherent design deficiencies of a foundation that was never intended to support such weight.
Yet he fails to mention what any of these deficiencies might be.
He then says the the best solution to any problems with Windows is to “start over.” You know, because that worked so well for Intel when they tried it.
Stross has a point when he says that the time between XP and Vista was too long. He probably even has a point when he says that Vista doesn’t look like a product that was in development for 6 years.
Guess what? It wasn’t. You see, back in 2001 the Windows division at Microsoft came up with the hair-brained idea to change pretty much everything, as Stross is suggesting now. Only he’s too late, and Microsoft has already learned that throwing out everything you know about Windows and rocketing into a brave new managed-code-centric world just doesn’t work all that well.
Stross also uses some funny math and says that Vista is the equivalent of Windows “version 12.” It’s as if he’s trying to say that somewhere under the pretty UI, the core of Windows hasn’t really changed since Windows 1.0.
Of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Windows NT was a completely new OS. Windows 2000 was nearly a complete rewrite of that. Server 2003 and XP SP2 saw more major changes under the hood, as did Vista itself.
That is to say, this isn’t your older brother’s Windows (“grandfather” didn’t quite seem appropriate given the time scale).
Even then, I’m still not sure why anyone thinks this “start over” idea has any basis in reality. Do you really think it would only take a couple of years to write an entirely new OS with all the capabilities of Windows Vista?
Stross also repeats the dubious claim that Windows is too “monolithic.” With its NT microkernel, layered and massively componentized architecture, and hardware portability – he can’t be talking about the same Windows that is sold today.
Nobody’s OS is perfect and I’ll gladly accept that Windows has its flaws. But if you want to get on someone’s back about being monolithic and having a hairy, crufty architecture – perhaps you should direct your attention elsewhere. But at least Linux doesn’t have bugs or security holes, right?
Lastly, Stross and others seem to be under the mistaken impression that Microsoft is somehow unable to change the existing Windows codebase. These guys present two options:
1) Build stuff on top of the last version of Windows.
2) Start over.
Why pretend that these are the only two options? Especially when historically Microsoft has always chosen door number 3:
Take what you have and make it better.
Replace the parts that need replacing.
Don’t break something without a good reason.