Over the next week or two, I'll be blogging about Microsoft's product strategy. I have received a variety of interesting reactions to Windows Vista: Past its Due Date. I obviously struck a chord with many people both inside and outside of Microsoft. In the "Vista" article, I related a tale of another time a major product met its demise: dBASE. I was there for that one. But, history repeats itself, and it's happening with Windows. Windows is headed down the same path.
Unless Microsoft does something dramatic. I call it Windows TNG.
Microsoft's best, and perhaps only opportunity to take their products to the next level involves four simple, bet-the-company steps. Each follow-up post will go into these steps in detail. Honestly, I don't think Microsoft has what it takes to take such bold moves anymore. But, here they are:
- Scrap the Windows codebase forever. Release Vista, and announce publicly that it will be the last version of Windows based upon the NT/Win32 platform.
- Use Linux as the base operating system for the next generation of Windows. Do not modify it, do not "Microsoftize" it. Do not try to own it. Exploit it.
- Reinvent the Desktop. Call it Windows. Windows: The Next Generation. Outdo Apple, outdo the current platform, outdo every "Linux desktop" effort in existence.
- Put applications first. Office TNG, Project TNG, Excel TNG, Outlook TNG. Do not port. Rewrite. Do not create a Win32 compatibility layer. Do it right.
To some readers, this is an obvious win. To others, it's ridiculous. Some would say it is heresy. The most analytical would say that it throws away Microsoft's biggest IP asset, the Windows codebase, and puts Microsoft head-to-head on a level playing field, making them far too vulnerable. The stock price would plummet.
Maybe so. But, once you realize that the codebase is the problem, you also realize Microsoft has to devise something better.
My early career was fueled by the exitement that Microsoft brought to the playing field. They not only created a C compiler for me, they created a better one. They not only gave me a graphical desktop. They gave me a better one. They not only created a better way for the novice to write windows applications, they amazed the world with VB and revolutionized the desktop development environment. They were hungry, unfettered by legacy strategies and technologies. They were the underdog, and they were my champion.
So, rather than bitch and moan (which is so easy), I'll go into details about these steps in a multi-part post. I hope it's useful.