Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 6th Apr 2008 09:38 UTC, submitted by Francis Kuntz
Windows Ars analyses the concept of a modular Windows, and concludes: "Modularization - and the discriminatory pricing it permits - might appeal to accountants and economists. But it is bad for consumers, bad for Windows, and ultimately, bad for Microsoft. A modularized Windows, or worse still, a modularized subscription-based Windows, undermines the purpose and value of the Windows OS. If it comes to pass it will surely sound the death knell of the entire Windows platform."
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One can only hope...
by Morgan on Sun 6th Apr 2008 10:14 UTC
Morgan
Member since:
2005-06-29

"If it comes to pass it will surely sound the death knell of the entire Windows platform."


Ok so I don't really hope the Windows platform goes away completely. There should always be competition. However I'd love to see OS X -- or something even better -- take over as the mainstream platform. It would also be nice to see FOSS operating systems triple in use, especially in education and research areas. It's going to take a major blunder by Microsoft, like the one this article predicts, to make that happen.

Personally though, I just don't see it coming about this way. Computing trends are slow grinds and when it does come time to see a shift in the way we use computers, Microsoft may not even be the company it is today. They may well be a small player overall and possibly out of the OS market completely, focusing on hardware and support software only. They already are trying to think ahead with the Surface project, and the time may come where they only design and sell interfaces to the computers of tomorrow.



Edit: Forgot there are no blockquotes allowed again...

Edited 2008-04-06 10:18 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: One can only hope...
by hobgoblin on Sun 6th Apr 2008 17:01 UTC in reply to "One can only hope..."
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

OSX on any x86 hardware, and i may be game. but if i can only get it on apple approved hardware, forget it.

Reply Score: 9

RE[2]: One can only hope...
by axilmar on Mon 7th Apr 2008 17:28 UTC in reply to "RE: One can only hope..."
axilmar Member since:
2006-03-20

Me too!

Apple, do you read these comments? there are all over the web!!!

Reply Score: 1

RE: One can only hope...
by holywood on Mon 7th Apr 2008 17:20 UTC in reply to "One can only hope..."
holywood Member since:
2006-09-25

Ok so I don't really hope the Windows platform goes away completely. There should always be competition.


You said it. I wouldn't want to see Linux, BSD, Solaris or whatever taking 95% of the marketshare.

You can argue that these OS are free software, but you get the point.

Having at least 3 majors OS to force interoperability would result in free as in speech standards.

Reply Score: 1

Subscription based
by aaronb on Sun 6th Apr 2008 10:44 UTC
aaronb
Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm not a fan of this subscription based Windows.

Windows Product Activation is perfect for enforcing subscriptions but in my opinion its just opening the way for...
1. More activation issues. (For Windows XP I had to use the call centre to activate my legally bought retail copy of XP after a mother bored failing).
2. More expensive in the long run.
3. Why upgrade Windows when users will have to renew the subscription each year.

Why don't Microsoft take one of the following options...
1. Make windows cheaper and release a new version more often.
2. Make Windows free and charge for support.

Edited 2008-04-06 10:53 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Subscription based
by PlatformAgnostic on Sun 6th Apr 2008 18:28 UTC in reply to "Subscription based"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

The goal is to make Windows easy enough that no one should need support. We aren't there yet, but if we just charged for support then anyone else could come along and support the software too. And any improvements in usability would have a negative impact on the bottom line.

The Windows software has value, and the value has increased over time as features are added. The price has also decreased over time due to inflation (the numerical value of the price has not changed much since the beginning).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Subscription based
by aaronb on Sun 6th Apr 2008 21:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Subscription based"
aaronb Member since:
2005-07-06

Its true that Windows does have good value.

However this modular way of thinking is not new for Microsoft. In Windows 98 Second Edition you could chose components to be installed. And making things optional again should not come at the extra price and hassle of time based subscriptions.

That is why a more frequent release schedule for example Microsoft office seems better to me.

I'm not bashing Windows (With the exception of Windows ME). I just think that to further fragment Windows will be painful for us all.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Subscription based
by jdrake on Mon 7th Apr 2008 06:58 UTC in reply to "Subscription based"
jdrake Member since:
2005-07-07

Microsoft cannot release Windows more often; if it were to do so, they would have one hell of a time getting businesses to upgrade.

Consumers would also have trouble with this. The products would be much less polished (Vista was likely rushed).

As for price, they could use a reduction there, but I do not know what drives its price.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Darkmage
by Darkmage on Sun 6th Apr 2008 11:19 UTC
Darkmage
Member since:
2006-10-20

with the destruction of microsoft the 2 most heavily used operating systems will both be UNIX based. Is anyone else wondering about the implications of this? I mean sure unix was good in the 70's/80's but surely other system designs should be given a chance? I don't think microsoft is the way forward, but I'm not so sure that linux and mac are the best way either. Do people think that other operating systems will be able to rise up to challenge *nix style systems, or will we be stuck with *nix platforms forever?

Edited 2008-04-06 11:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Darkmage
by Lennie on Sun 6th Apr 2008 14:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by Darkmage"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

What is wrong with Unix(-like) again ?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage
by Darkmage on Sun 6th Apr 2008 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Darkmage"
Darkmage Member since:
2006-10-20

I'm not saying unix-alike is bad, but I do feel it will be unfortunate if the only "man" standing at the end of the OS wars is unix-alike. I'd like to see various other OS implementations appear. I don't want to see the next 20 years be all *nix. A nice varied ecosystem is a good thing, as we've all seen the prevalence of windows systems leading to a hellstorm of viruses/malware. I'm interested in seeing what other vendors/groups can come up with that's neither linux/mac/windows. No system is perfect yet. I'd like to see what people come up with given a chance to explore other models.

Edited 2008-04-06 14:40 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by Hands on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
Hands Member since:
2005-06-30

I would hazard a guess that if Windows were to decline by 50% over the next several years, the largest benefit would be to Apple simply because most people still think you have to pay for an OS, but Linux would also benefit enough that the split might be something like 46-36-13-5 (Windows-Mac-Linux-Other).

The mere fact that Apple is gaining mindshare at Windows' expense helps people to realize that a computer doesn't have to run Windows. And, the fact that Windows can easily be installed on current Apple hardware, makes it much easier for many people to understand that the major difference between Apple and Windows is a difference in software rather than hardware (Windows boxes can be designed well too).

This opens the door for people to ask if there are any other options. The obvious alternative to Windows and Mac is Linux, but many would argue that the BSDs and Solaris are very good alternatives as well. Of course, all of those fall under the category of being Unix or Unix-like, but I say that it would also make people more open to trying other systems.

If that were the result of Microsoft trying to modularize Windows for profit, I would be all for it. It would pave the way not only for an increase in *nix usage, but it would make the development of more alternatives increasingly likely. Competition would truly be king.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage
by hobgoblin on Sun 6th Apr 2008 17:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

the problem is that apple is unlikely to license out their os to competitors.

its that one could shop around for the best offer in hardware, and still use ones software that have made the computer a home item.

still, there are some benefits for the home user in having a os locked to the hardware. and i have often found myself saying that the average user (if such exists) do not want a general computer, he wants a typewriter, media player/recorder and web portal device. at least thats the use i have seen over and over again, with the odd game thrown in.

so in many ways, said user would be better of with a combo of boxes hooked up to a single input and output. each box providing one of the features listed.

Reply Score: 2

v RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by Almafeta on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage
by apoclypse on Sun 6th Apr 2008 20:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage"
apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

Well look at it this way. Look at when the Unix architecture came out and look at its prevalence today. That should tell you something right there. look at the scope in usage of *nix platform, look at the fact that MS themselves have licensed parts of the *nix platform to use in their own OS, look at the fact that MS is trying to do the same thing *nix has done for over 2 decades with windows 7. Modularity isn't a new concept, *nix has had this from the start. I'm not saying *nix is perfect or that every OS should be just like it but the proof is in the pudding and the *nix paradigm has been proven over and over again for more than 30 years. It has taken MS decades to come to the same technical conclusions that *nix made in the 70's.

Reply Score: 6

RE[5]: Comment by Darkmage
by intangible on Mon 7th Apr 2008 16:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage"
intangible Member since:
2005-07-06

That old quote:
Those who don't understand Unix are doomed to reinvent it poorly.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by siride on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
siride Member since:
2006-01-02

There's so much more to Linux and especially Mac OS X that's not really Unix of yore that I think you are doing a disservice to these OSes by calling them holdovers from the 70s. Yes, the Mac OS X kernel is Unix-based, but even that is a lot different from the Unix you'll remember from the 70s. Almost the entire userland is not Unix, it is very modern and very different from the traditional Unix userland. That's where it counts these days anyways. The Linux userland is a more unix-y, but even so, it is still quite a bit more modern than you seem to be making it out to be.

I think at this point, saying that "all that will be left standing is Unix" is akin to saying "all that will be left standing is virtual memory based kernels". Yes, all mainstream kernels use virtual memory with paging. So? That's the solution that the the industry has adopted to solve the problem. Same with other Unix-y stuff. Even Windows got a lot more Unix-y with NT and later. A lot of things we take for granted as "how a system should work" were developed first with Multics and Unix.

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by l3v1 on Sun 6th Apr 2008 16:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

I do feel it will be unfortunate if the only "man" standing at the end of the OS wars is unix-alike. I'd like to see various other OS implementations appear. I don't want to see the next 20 years be all *nix. A nice varied ecosystem is a good thing


Forgive me saying it out loud, but some of you people just need to get a cluebat and start hitting the wall at least. For far too many years has the consumer OS land been dominated by a single OS, and hey, a real minor number of people kept repeating that a varied OS landscape would be better. Now, that suddenly some people have woken up, and we start to see some light at the end of the tunnel - and we're still pretty far off to having a varied OS ecosystem (availability in itself means nothing) -, people pop up and start complaining that reducing the lead of Windows as an OS (reducing, not eliminating) will bring us doom, and we should have something, anything just not unix/linux-based OSes. It's just funny.

As regarding the subscription-based plans for Windows... my feeling about that are just skeptical. You see, even MS acknowledges that a very high percentage of the OS-income comes not from individual OS-buyers, but from OEMs and companies. For home users this subscription-based Windows will probably be a major pain in their proverbial behinds, and even more so if we consider that bugs and glitches in the respective services will take your patience by its neck, twist it around, spit on it and bust its face with a twenty inch steel-toe. For companies, well, I don't think a sane cio/cto will go into such a mess. I might be wrong, we'll see (unfortunately).

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Comment by Darkmage
by bryanv on Mon 7th Apr 2008 16:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage"
bryanv Member since:
2005-08-26

The problem with your argument is that you rely up CIO/CTO's to be sane.

That's funny stuff, right there.

I've worked for CIOs and CTOs of huge industries. I've worked with CIOs in several state governments.

I have yet to work with one who makes decisions based upon the precept that they're role is to solve problems with the least-complex, most effective, and cheapest technical solution. Using these measures as the means to selection would not only be sane, but would be rational, responsible, and likely lead to highly successful projects.

Instead, they read Dr. Dobbs, bow at the alter of Gartner, or do any combination of hair-brained, moronic, absolutely stupid, backwards, and self-defeating methods of choosing and selecting "solutions".

Honestly, these people are rarely sane, intelligent, knowledgeable when it comes to technology, and normally promoted out of the way at company X, where they use that high-ranking position to attain an equal position at Company Y, who realizes their inept, and promotes them out of the way, until they move on to Company Z.... and so goes the cycle.

I wish I were kidding, but I've seen it way too many times.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by Sunnz on Wed 9th Apr 2008 14:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
Sunnz Member since:
2008-04-09

Haiku OS?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by Darkmage
by StychoKiller on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:18 UTC in reply to "Comment by Darkmage"
StychoKiller Member since:
2005-09-20

Amiga OS4.1 sounds like the answer to yer prayers!

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Darkmage
by Anonymous Penguin on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by Darkmage"
Anonymous Penguin Member since:
2005-07-06

While of course I disagree with your analysis of Unix(-like) operating systems (I have seen them improve, become a lot more user-friendly since the year 2000, getting (more) proprietary software, dramatically increase what you can do with them, with the possible exception of games...), I have no interest in seeing Windows disappear. But can't they conceive something completely different? I mean, for instance, an OS without the Registry and the DLL Hell.
Which takes us back to Unix. Maybe they shouldn't create yet another Unix based OS, but taking a few ideas from Unix wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by Darkmage
by kaiwai on Mon 7th Apr 2008 01:32 UTC in reply to "Comment by Darkmage"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

with the destruction of microsoft the 2 most heavily used operating systems will both be UNIX based. Is anyone else wondering about the implications of this? I mean sure unix was good in the 70's/80's but surely other system designs should be given a chance? I don't think microsoft is the way forward, but I'm not so sure that linux and mac are the best way either. Do people think that other operating systems will be able to rise up to challenge *nix style systems, or will we be stuck with *nix platforms forever?


In an ideal world we would be using the superior (technologically) operating system; Plan9 would become the new UNIX, people would clone/duplicate it and make it better. The sad reality is that pragmatism, not technology, decide the direction (along with success) of an operating system.

With that being said, UNIX isn't the greatest thing in the world, but when compared with the mess that is Windows NT, we could be doing alot worse.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage
by bryanv on Mon 7th Apr 2008 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Darkmage"
bryanv Member since:
2005-08-26

If pragmatism decided the direction, then management would have to be thinking pragmatically.

That doesn't happen in > 90% of the businesses out there.

I call your bluff.

Most of the time, what happens is you find a manager with a hard-on for company / technology X. They won't accept anything other than company / technology X. Why did they get such a boner for this decision? It could be pragmatism, but that would imply rational, conservative problem-solving being applied to a problem set.

Normally they read it under a headline written by some industry analyst blow-hard, or got a few nice steak dinners on the vendors dime.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Darkmage
by kaiwai on Tue 8th Apr 2008 02:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Darkmage"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

If pragmatism decided the direction, then management would have to be thinking pragmatically.

That doesn't happen in > 90% of the businesses out there.

I call your bluff.

Most of the time, what happens is you find a manager with a hard-on for company / technology X. They won't accept anything other than company / technology X. Why did they get such a boner for this decision? It could be pragmatism, but that would imply rational, conservative problem-solving being applied to a problem set.

Normally they read it under a headline written by some industry analyst blow-hard, or got a few nice steak dinners on the vendors dime.


What the f*ck are you going on about "I call your bluff" - I made no such thing! idiot. I also said NOTHING about acquisition of information technology for companies - may I suggest that you're not so cocky next time.

The point I was making is that engineers within companies like Microsoft, Sun, IBM and so forth have to make pragmatic decisions; they have limited budgets, limited time, and ever demanding customers wanting more for less. It is up to the engineers to be pragmatic on what they can do given the constraints which are placed on them.

Again, read the posts before you start running off to the create reply button.

Reply Score: 2

Cheaper is better?
by Earl Colby pottinger on Sun 6th Apr 2008 11:19 UTC
Earl Colby pottinger
Member since:
2005-07-06

One) I don't see how this would kill Windows. Cut into MicroSoft's revenue stream yes, kill it no. Too many companies use Windows now, and they are in no mood to pay for complete retraining of their work force.

Two) The more important question for MicroSoft is can they control the modules loaded. Perfect example right now is the Web Browser, FireFox is eating into MicroSoft's share of the market, but most people are lazy - it is hard to believe that FireFox will own more than MicroSoft of the general market when IE comes with each and every machine.

Even when given a choice of suppliers for different modules most people will want the one-store-shopping of going to MicroSoft's site.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Cheaper is better?
by sigzero on Sun 6th Apr 2008 11:54 UTC in reply to "Cheaper is better?"
sigzero Member since:
2006-01-03

If modularization is fragmenting enough it might be just as cheap for businesses to retrain their workforce on something else.

Vista has shown that businesses aren't willing to swallow anything that Microsoft labels as "Windows" hook, line and sinker.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Cheaper is better?
by hobgoblin on Sun 6th Apr 2008 17:22 UTC in reply to "Cheaper is better?"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

i suspect that both apple and microsoft is heading towards google, while google is heading towards the other two.

as in, both are heading towards a service and portal like place (.mac, live) and creating specialized boxes and solution that can tie into that to provide additional services with little effort from the user (zune, ipod, appletv, xbox360).

google on the other hand is a service and portal, and is now producing the first hardware related products (android). it will not surprise me if android can be scaled up to do PVR, online video rental or game console.

Reply Score: 2

Good for the consumer ...
by MacTO on Sun 6th Apr 2008 11:55 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

Yes, technophiles who want computers that do everything will hate this because it will drive up the cost of buying an operating system.

But it will probably end up being a great thing for hardware vendors and most consumers.

Hardware vendor will love it because it will allow them to differentiate their systems based upon the components loaded. Want a low price model, then just load the core. Making something with limited hardware resources like the Eee, then only keep the resources that would perform well.

It would probably work out nicely for the consumer too. How many people would buy a new version of Windows every two years? Relatively few. If you tried to force upgrades by changing the API, software developers would ignore the API of the new release because most people will be using the old release. Which further negates the reason to upgrade. On the other hand, Windows XP looks pretty bad compared to a recent release of Mac OS X or Linux. So why not solve the situation by upgrading the core on a regular but infrequent basis, while upgrading the ancilary stuff frequently? Consumers who want upgraded ancilary stuff can upgrade as frequently as they want, so Windows looks relatively up-to-date without loosing customers to other software houses. Customers who are happy with the status quo will have less pressure to upgrade.

As for charging businesses more, I don't know how well that will work out for Microsoft. While I can see a business being willing to pay more for a new system, it would provide an extra disincentive for them to upgrade. That, and if they don't use custom software, they may look towards alternatives more keenly.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Good for the consumer ...
by hobgoblin on Sun 6th Apr 2008 17:26 UTC in reply to "Good for the consumer ..."
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

and now that one have the net, the formats and similar thats being used there acts to level the playing field. unlike earlier when each computer brand had a silo like market share.

these days one have to be net compatible or one is dead in a market sense. and so it becomes very simple for the user to move his data between vertical platforms.

the apps may be different, but as long as they can read the same data, will the user care?

Reply Score: 2

The Deathbell for M$
by sharkscott on Sun 6th Apr 2008 11:59 UTC
sharkscott
Member since:
2006-08-19

Too bad it will still take Microsoft 20 years to die even after the life support is yanked.

Reply Score: 3

RE: The Deathbell for M$
by Morgan on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:53 UTC in reply to "The Deathbell for M$"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

That's technically true, but as I said in my previous post, I don't think they will ever really go away. There's no reason for Microsoft to completely disappear from the IT scene even if they do move away from operating system development. For one thing, there's a hell of a lot of talent there, albeit with less than stellar management. They have the resources to make a graceful shift away from OS work and towards service and support software. Why can't Office, or its future incarnation, be the flagship of the company ten years from now? Imagine your computer running a free OS (Linux, Haiku or whatever is out there then) and on top of the OS is Microsoft's productivity suite. I know, not everyone wants to see something like that, myself included, but it's one of the many possibilities when we go down the road the article suggests.

As I said before I don't see it playing out like this; I have a feeling Microsoft will be the gorilla in the room for many years to come. Eventually though, they will have to innovate on their own and stop borrowing ten year old ideas. That will be something to see.

Reply Score: 3

Invincible Cow
Member since:
2006-06-24

Just because an operating system is modularly programmed it doesn't mean it has to ship in a lot of different versions...

Reply Score: 7

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

vista anyone?

Reply Score: 2

Let's just cut the crap, shall we?
by cmost on Sun 6th Apr 2008 12:27 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

Everyone knows that to compete with better operating systems, Microsoft has to modularize. We also know that Microsoft will do whatever it can to maximize its profits through deals with OEMs, big corporations, and schools. The home user (i.e., you and me) will be the big losers of this spectacle of shear greed that will ensue as Microsoft tries to provide the core OS along with a myriad of subscription based or otherwise 'PLUS!' pack style features. Anyone who has purchased a car knows that the one must-have feature is always buried in the option package that has all the crap too. As usual, this will prove to be a disaster for Microsoft and everyone else too.

Reply Score: 5

And the most popular version is...
by uteck on Sun 6th Apr 2008 12:32 UTC
uteck
Member since:
2006-07-16

Windows Game. The stripped down version for gaming. But the Xbox group will never let this get off the ground as it would directly compete with them.
From what I hear about the infighting between various departments inside MS, I doubt they would let a potential successor arise. With a dedicated gaming version you could run an emulator for your old Xbox games and not have the expense of the hardware development that a consul has. And considering the poor quality of the Xbox hardware and the sizable cost of development and production, this could cause a dramatic shift in funding.

So, modular Windows sounds good, but I think internal politics at MS will ensure it does not work.

Reply Score: 4

Frobozz Member since:
2005-12-04

Windows Game. The stripped down version for gaming.

You read my mind perfectly. As far as I'm concerned, I can do the majority of my "work" on Linux. To me, Windows has become nothing more than a glorified gaming platform. I'd gladly take a version of Windows for gaming - why bother with all that stupid eye candy when you aren't going to be seeing it for more time than it takes for Spore or Crysis to load?

Reply Score: 1

What's modular?
by pysiak on Sun 6th Apr 2008 12:58 UTC
pysiak
Member since:
2008-01-01

Nobody really can say now what win7 be like. And I always thought that modularity in win7 would be all about a programming concept not marketing. ie. having the OS more extensible, more resilient. Like, with w2k3, MSFT couldn't upgrade a thing in IIS6 without shipping a new kernel (ie. with a SP or R2). Now, with w2k8, IIS7 can be upgraded, without in-depth core changes. That's the modularization I'm talking about.

Although MSFT really made a bad choice with the plethora of Vista Versions, it doesn't mean they will stick to it (or even push it further) with win7.

I hope that as subscription-based office and vista versions are things that will never come back when win7 is up.

BTW. The article says that vista and w2k8 are making first steps with modularization with roles. But w2k3 had roles too, so it's been there some time now.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What's modular?
by PlatformAgnostic on Sun 6th Apr 2008 18:37 UTC in reply to "What's modular?"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

I'm not sure you're right that IIS6 required kernel changes to be upgraded in server 2k3. It's just a program, like apache or any other web-server. Perhaps there were some kernel enhancements that made it run a little faster, (I can think of one that might have affected IIS performance), but that does not imply that any part of IIS is attached to the core kernel.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: What's modular?
by pysiak on Sun 6th Apr 2008 20:55 UTC in reply to "RE: What's modular?"
pysiak Member since:
2008-01-01

I can't find the source right now, but I know I was reading about the fact that IIS6 being monolithical couldn't have been seriously upgraded without updating the files it has dependencies in. IIS is not just a program, http.sys is actually a kernel-mode driver, so it had dependencies in kernel code.

I think I was reading on IIS7 being modular and that was to be a benefit over IIS6 where it could be upgraded, like you say, like just a program.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: What's modular?
by PlatformAgnostic on Mon 7th Apr 2008 02:25 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: What's modular?"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

That's a little different. The IIS7 modularity has to do with the fact that it processes web requests in stages in a pipeline. Each part of the pipeline is implemented as a module, and so can be filtered or modified. The older versions had larger chunks of processing being done in the engine itself, so you couldn't, for instance, change the way that SSL processing was being done without modifying the core engine (not a real example.. just for illustrative purposes). The new IIS would handle connection establishment as part of a module that could be switched out without changing the rest of the serving pipeline. But all of this added modularity is in IIS itself, and has nothing to do with its interaction with the OS. It's just a program like any other.

HTTP.SYS is just a normal driver that helps IIS. It can be replaced or modified independently of the OS Kernel. I think the interface to http.sys is also public (search MSDN for HTTP API), so even apache or lighttpd could use it to serve requests. It's pretty unrelated to the Core OS.

Reply Score: 3

Interesting question
by trenchsol on Sun 6th Apr 2008 13:18 UTC
trenchsol
Member since:
2006-12-07

It is interesting to see if other vendors are going to be allowed to write modules for Windows OS, which will compete with Microsoft's own.

What will these modules look like ? For example. let's assume that there is a module for web server. Does it mean that TCP stack is going to be rearranged in a way that no incoming port 80 connection is going to be accepted unless web server module is purchased ? Or the owner (user) can install and use Apache without purchasing the module ? Or Apache foundation can write their own Windows module wrapped around Apache HTTPD ?

Reply Score: 4

Business model vs. software design
by Larz on Sun 6th Apr 2008 13:29 UTC
Larz
Member since:
2006-01-04

Where should I begin and where should I end?

Firstly, I think the author could have been more attentive to the difference between a more "modular" business model and a more modular approach towards software design (which I think is a good thing in most situations). Developing modular software is not the same as changing the granularity of the software sold.

Secondly, mainly relying on discriminatory pricing to explain the effects, he neglects one thing. Most users (I am not talking about the average OSNEWS or Ars Technica reader) has already been "overshot" by the featureset in modern operating systems. A tendency towards only paying for what you actually use, could in fact result in a downward pressure on pricing - given enough competition of course.

I think it was an interesting, but very flawed article.

Edited 2008-04-06 13:31 UTC

Reply Score: 3

cheaper Windows ?
by raver31 on Sun 6th Apr 2008 13:39 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

Clearly this would be an excellent way to market Windows.
Someone buys a cheap PC, with a cut down version of Windows, and upgrades the system as they upgrade the hardware.

Buying a gaming PC, great, you dont need anything for user support and a load of help files and tutorials.. Buying and office machine ? great, you dont need directx etc

So, when you do make the move, you can get the needed parts as and when.

Now, if Microsoft will implement something like "update-manager -d -c", then moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will be as simple as paying the charge and clicking the link.

Reply Score: 3

RE: cheaper Windows ?
by Phloptical on Sun 6th Apr 2008 14:14 UTC in reply to "cheaper Windows ?"
Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

In a perfect world, I would agree that this would be the way to go. A la carte Windows could work, but since MS is more about making money than caring about product and customer satisfaction (the result of owning 95% of a market) a modular subscription based Windows would be a disaster in terms of end-user experience and implementation.

IMO, Windows is modularized enough as it stands now.

Reply Score: 4

RE: cheaper Windows ?
by Doc Pain on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:44 UTC in reply to "cheaper Windows ?"
Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Buying a gaming PC, great, you dont need anything for user support and a load of help files and tutorials.. Buying and office machine ? great, you dont need directx etc


This would be a nice utopy for "windows" users, but sadly, this concept seems to open up new problems. Things that users might expect (e. g. have seen it in the office or at the neighbor's PC) arent present in fact and require manual installation afterwards. "But I want this working!" could be a common phrase. The additional installation of software that is needed to extend the product could develop into a problem for users who are fine with the concept of taking software as it is (first) and then start complaining that something isn't possible out of the box (later on). This is due to the tendency of seeing the PC as an allround device, so, following your example, as an office PC for games, file sharing and video editing.

The selection of what is minimal and what you can use as extensions is a difficult task because someone could miss something - missing something is the beginning of complaining, and complaining is a step closer to abandon a product and stopping using it.

So, when you do make the move, you can get the needed parts as and when.


And for the nice numbers on the price tag. :-)

Now, if Microsoft will implement something like "update-manager -d -c", then moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will be as simple as paying the charge and clicking the link.


This would require their modularized infrastructure to be well designed. Some users blame MICROS~1 for putting more work into the eye candy and the advertising than in testing their software before selling it. I'm not sure if MICROS~1 can reach this goal, it would imply that they break with some of the concepts they're familiar with for years...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: cheaper Windows ?
by PlatformAgnostic on Sun 6th Apr 2008 18:41 UTC in reply to "RE: cheaper Windows ?"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

Dude, it's more work to type MICROS~1 than to type Microsoft or MS. Why would you do more work just to be impolite?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: cheaper Windows ?
by sbergman27 on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: cheaper Windows ?"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Dude, it's more work to type MICROS~1 than to type Microsoft or MS. Why would you do more work just to be impolite?

Dude,^WIt's more work to start your sentence with "Dude" than to just leave it out. Why would you do more work just to be impolite? ;-)

Edited 2008-04-06 19:11 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: cheaper Windows ?
by PlatformAgnostic on Sun 6th Apr 2008 20:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: cheaper Windows ?"
PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

The dude abides.

Reply Score: 1

Nickeled and dimed
by Almafeta on Sun 6th Apr 2008 15:06 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

The more you don't include by default, the more opprotunity you give things to break in the future.

The more you don't include by default, the more your customers will resent everything else they have to pay for later to just run some shareware.

Oh, here's something else to mention -- how will their install media work once you have umpteen functions on that disc that they may or may not have been purchased? Will they have to enter one huge key which will be decoded to determine what they get, or will they have to just enter one key per function? Or just one disc per function?

I don't think this will be "The End Of Microsoft" -- people have been heralding that even longer since they've been heralding "The Year Of The Linux Desktop" -- but I do think this is going to blow up, horribly and expensively, in their faces. If Windows 7 goes to modular/subscription, I guarantee Windows 8 will be back to the sane software development and deployment model.

Reply Score: 3

Who is the real competition?
by Hands on Sun 6th Apr 2008 16:09 UTC
Hands
Member since:
2005-06-30

Microsoft has an obvious problem on their hands. They have attempted to differentiate their software business so much that they can't make a change in one area without affecting another. The problem is that it will be very difficult to find the decisions that will be beneficial in all aspects of their business.

So, who should Microsoft compete with? Should they compete with Mac and Linux? Should they compete with Google and Yahoo? Should they compete with someone else? Is Windows still as valuable today as it was in the past, or should they shift their focus to Office or other products? Should they offer a free consumer version to retain mindshare while asking a larger premium for a commercial license (maybe through paid support) in a manner similar to what some Linux companies do?

Companies like Google and Yahoo have shown that the internet is a very attractive place to be in business. The possibilities for success can be incredible. Unfortunately, predicting success for an internet strategy can be difficult. The internet does provide a vehicle for marketing subscription based services though. People don't inherently think that they own what is on the internet.

Regardless of what the internet has to offer Microsoft, Windows and Office have been major contributors to Microsoft's success in the past. If they move toward an internet-centric business, does it weaken Windows by moving their strategy away from core strengths and opening them up to competition that is already strong? If Microsoft doesn't go with an internet services approach, will they be able to continue to compete with Mac and Linux in the face of antitrust concerns?

Businesses and consumers alike have begun to realize that single-source practices can have more than short term effects in the computing world. By relying on a single vendor for the majority of software needs, companies become increasingly dependent on that vendor due to the potentially high costs of changing vendors. Should Microsoft become more flexible and open in an effort to ameliorate corporate concerns of software lock-in. Would that flexibility simply hasten moves toward competitors' offerings. Will it matter what Microsoft does if companies decide to adopt a policy to limit the potential for lock-in?

I don't think that the majority of consumers or businesses will abandon Windows in the near future, but the poor response to Vista does not bode well for the long term outlook of Windows. At least, I would say that unless Microsoft is very savvy about how they develop and market Windows 7, Windows' marketshare could actually drop below 90% within three years.

Reply Score: 5

Good for power users?
by WorknMan on Sun 6th Apr 2008 17:42 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Think this could be a good thing for power users. Generally, the only thing we need Windows for are the 3rd party apps, so the first thing we usually do when we install Windows is turn off UAC, turn off system restore, turn off search indexing, and other stuff we don't use. Imagine not having to pay for any of that crap .. it's gonna be cheaper for us ;) Just as long as they don't screw with the APIs to make life harder for developers. But I really don't think they're that stupid.

Reply Score: 1

Dead no, minimised yes
by bousozoku on Sun 6th Apr 2008 18:28 UTC
bousozoku
Member since:
2006-01-23

I don't see that Windows would die, but it would lose ground. People might actually get what they want. Looking at the various retail configurations of Vista, most people probably just walked away in confusion. Being able to buy a basic configuration for home or business and then, being able to add pieces would be ideal for many.

Of course, those who constantly feel entitlement to everything will complain that they bought the whole thing and Microsoft is forcing them to pay more but who really uses everything?

I'd like to see a better selection of operating systems, as we had in the 1980s, with the hardware and software of today. If Apple and Microsoft had more equal shares, the various Linux and BSD distributions could gain ground and the focus might become application software instead of which operating system is better.

We need Windows a while longer, if only to keep Apple from taking the monopoly position.

Reply Score: 2

corbintechboy
Member since:
2006-05-02

Where it might be a cool idea in concept, trust the fact that it boils down to money! It would be just another way to make huge bucks and track system use. Could you imagine this later down the line? You buy the gamer module, you decide to check your email, message pops up and says "please purchase the email module". Where this may seem far out, there is no end to greed, and we know what company has shown they love greed!

Reply Score: 2

It all depends...
by irbis on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:03 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

A very modular OS might be a good or a bad thing as there are many different ways to implement it. Now Windows 7 or its modularity is just pure speculation still, at least outside of MS development labs.

Also the last page of the article mentions lots of potentially good things in modularity although the point of view may be rather sceptical in general.

I guess it all boils down to the goals that the OS manufacturer tries to achieve with modularity. Is it mainly just a new way to get more money from customers, or are they truly trying to listen to and serve the customers better? Of course, those two goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive. But one thing is sure: pissing off customers is not good for any company in the long run, including Microsoft. Once people lose their trust in a product line or a company, it can be hard to get that trust back.

Microsoft is already suffering from some symptoms of customer distrust, so they should consider their decisions carefully if they don't want to lose more friends.

Edit: The interesting question we could ask is why an IT site like Ars, when writing about the (maybe) modular future Windows design, tends to fear for the worst rather than hope for the best...? What has happened? They are not alone but IMHO you can read pessimistic comments about the future of MS Windows also on many Windows-centric IT blogs, news sites and forums. I would be a bit worried if I worked at Microsoft.

Edited 2008-04-06 19:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: It all depends...
by corbintechboy on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:36 UTC in reply to "It all depends..."
corbintechboy Member since:
2006-05-02

I would like to sit and hope for best myself, but history has shown that hoping won't get us very far in the world of MS. If they did get it right, I would jump on it.

I don't think anything good can come from this, any time I have to buy software "packs" to accomplish something I feel screwed. There is no "one size fits all" that would work here. Like me for instance, I am a semi active gamer, yet I do a lot of browsing, I also embark on media adventures from time to time, I use a email program... Where am I going to be "if" this happens?

Well for my sake as well as many others, I do hope we are wrong and MS is doing this because they love the consumer and want the consumer to hold more power in the hardware they purchase (wow I'm dreaming?). But at the end of the day, chances are, It will be the same old situation! All bout the mighty dollar!

(Why when I speak about MS I somehow feel like I'm talking about crooked politics??? hmmmmm!)

Edited 2008-04-06 19:37 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Modularisation
by segedunum on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:44 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

Modularisation is a term Microsoft used to describe pretty much every version of Windows since 2000. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Modularisation
by corbintechboy on Sun 6th Apr 2008 19:52 UTC in reply to "Modularisation"
corbintechboy Member since:
2006-05-02

Hmmmm.... Seems as if I just installed my games, browsers, media apps and used them? Did I miss something in the windows flavors up to this point?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Modularisation
by miles on Sun 6th Apr 2008 21:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Modularisation"
miles Member since:
2006-06-15

Actually, that's what lots of people do. All in all, we pay more than 100 bucks for something that could easily fit in 50Mo. They just inflate the OS to make you think you get a good value, when almost each part of Windows has better free or open source counterparts.

Just sell us a wine version of DirectX, we wouldn't have to buy a game console instead.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by miles
by miles on Sun 6th Apr 2008 21:22 UTC
miles
Member since:
2006-06-15

Considering I'd only use Windows for the games (and virtualised for Naturally Speaking), I'd say yes to a 30$ license with just DirectX.

No web browser, no file manager, no Windows Media, no small games, no notepad, no firewall (I prefer installing it myself, thanks), no Paint, no search, no MSN, no MSN games (what?), no Outlook Express.

Although I don't think that's what Microsoft has in mind - the cheapest version will still be around
130-199$ (box, I still have 2 OEM Windows I'm not "legally" supposed to use).

Anyway, you seem to be sad it's going to hurt Windows. In my book, anything that hurts Windows is good for the OS ecosystem, and for the user.

Reply Score: 1

Most modules are terrible anyway
by tdemj on Sun 6th Apr 2008 22:26 UTC
tdemj
Member since:
2006-01-03

I don't know about you, but I don't care about most of the Windows modules. As long as I can execute applications, I'm fine.

Media Player? It's horribly outdated, I can't use the keyboard to skip or pause, it can't play AVI without installing DivX. I'll just use 3rd party.

The same can be told about Calculator, SoundRecorder, Backup, Notepad, WordPad, Paint, Messenger, Outlook Express, Picture Viewer, Internet Explorer and even Window Explorer. I don't use any of those, because even the worst freeware beats them in features and usability.

I can always run Apache instead of IIS. Yes, Apache can be configured to run ASP.NET too using one more level of indirection. I don't trust the built-in encryption, only TrueCrypt. OpenOffice is not any worse than Microsoft Office. The best Microsoft product is Visual Studio 2008, but that's free anyway.

Other than the kernel and the windowing subsystem, the only module that we really need is DirectX. As a home user, I refuse to pay subscription for anything else. As a developer, my company gets everything via MSDN subscription.

Reply Score: 1

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I don't know about you, but I don't care about most of the Windows modules. As long as I can execute applications, I'm fine.

Media Player? It's horribly outdated, I can't use the keyboard to skip or pause, it can't play AVI without installing DivX. I'll just use 3rd party.

The same can be told about Calculator, SoundRecorder, Backup, Notepad, WordPad, Paint, Messenger, Outlook Express, Picture Viewer, Internet Explorer and even Window Explorer. I don't use any of those, because even the worst freeware beats them in features and usability.

I can always run Apache instead of IIS. Yes, Apache can be configured to run ASP.NET too using one more level of indirection. I don't trust the built-in encryption, only TrueCrypt. OpenOffice is not any worse than Microsoft Office. The best Microsoft product is Visual Studio 2008, but that's free anyway.

Other than the kernel and the windowing subsystem, the only module that we really need is DirectX. As a home user, I refuse to pay subscription for anything else. As a developer, my company gets everything via MSDN subscription.


You can take this concept even further.

Why do you need the Windows file manager, explorer, and window manager (the GUI) ... just install KDE 4 for Windows and it will give you all that. Install Samba4, CUPS, FileZilla and Putty for your networking. Install VLC and Amarok on Windows for your media player solution. Install OpenOffice or KOffice 2 for your Office suite, Thunderbird or Evolution or KDE PIM, Pidgin or Kopete, and Firefox or Opera or Safari or Konqueror for internet and have your entire desktop as non-Microsoft modular addons.

In fact ... if you don't want games and directx, you can completely avoid having to subscribe for any software at all by installing Linux in the first place. Buy your computer with a blank hard disk (or perhaps with Linux pre-installed) and avoid any software charges altogether.

Edited 2008-04-07 04:00 UTC

Reply Score: 3

apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

Yeah. VLC is a much better player in my opinion. Even Linux has better media players (if you've got all the codecs) than windows media player.

Reply Score: 2

trenchsol Member since:
2006-12-07

I am not sure, but you might not be allowed to use third party software. For example, if you have not purchased media player, media playing might be disabled completely (in kernel ?) somehow ? You might need to pay for media playing ability even if you are using third party application.

I am only guessing, but it would be Microsoft-like. On the other hand they could get hit by anti monopoly regulations in that case.

Is there anybody here who has a little more information ?

DG

Reply Score: 2

r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think they would lock media playing ability in the "core" when subscription Media Player lacks.

It would be far more inconspicuous to just strip the audio subsystem out of Windows and bundle this with MS audio applications (Media player, sound recorder, volume mixer, etc.) as the multimedia subscription pack.

You want to play audio via Amarok? No problem, subscribe to the multimedia subscription pack and you get the audio subsystem + a lot of neat useful MS tools for $ 9.99 per month.

And that is if they can resist the urge to entangle the "separate" modules with each other by quirky dependencies. E.g. Gaming depends on Multimedia, Visual, Network and Utilities. Productivity depends on Multimedia, Network, Utilities and Visual. Network depends on Utilities. Maintenance depends on Utitlies and Network.

Yes, it would be modular but you'd need practically all to be functional.

Reply Score: 2

Ohhh
by linuxdude on Mon 7th Apr 2008 08:29 UTC
linuxdude
Member since:
2008-02-26

Windows is going to sux no matter what it does. Anything that comes out of Intellectual Property based Software Development company has to sux.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Ohhh
by WereCatf on Mon 7th Apr 2008 11:52 UTC in reply to "Ohhh"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Windows is going to sux no matter what it does. Anything that comes out of Intellectual Property based Software Development company has to sux.

Wow what a smart and insightful comment. I feel totally enlightened.

But seriously, I am Linux fangirl all the way but I still do think Windows XP nowadays is a good OS too. I have managed to crash it only once this year and it isn't too slow compared to Linux either. Oh, and have you f.ex. seen their Surface thing? I do think that's a pretty cool idea and will probably get lots of buyers. Sooner or later other companies will try to duplicate it, too. So, that kind of nullifies your comment.

Reply Score: 2

rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

The idea of modularisation of Windows is interesting, but one thing Ars Technica never touched on was whether OSS equivalents of Microsoft's "modules" could be developed and released in direct competition with Microsoft's versions?

This would, of course, require full documentation of any API hooks into the core OS that module code would need - any bets that Microsoft will either charge a fortune for these docs or attach an onerous usage license to them (e.g. can't be used for GPL'ed apps)?

Well-written OSS modules written to replace MS's could severely dent revenue for MS, particularly if OEMs started pre-installing them on a "Core-only" modular Windows.

Reply Score: 1

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Considering the interoperability dog and pony show that MS is currently conducting for the benefit of the EC, I would guess that they would claim that anyone is free to do it, and then throw up some practical road blocks for anyone who actually tried doing so. Then they could claim later that they offered, but that there was no interest.

Reply Score: 2

MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

The idea of modularisation of Windows is interesting, but one thing Ars Technica never touched on was whether OSS equivalents of Microsoft's "modules" could be developed and released in direct competition with Microsoft's versions?

This would, of course, require full documentation of any API hooks into the core OS that module code would need - any bets that Microsoft will either charge a fortune for these docs or attach an onerous usage license to them (e.g. can't be used for GPL'ed apps)?

Well-written OSS modules written to replace MS's could severely dent revenue for MS, particularly if OEMs started pre-installing them on a "Core-only" modular Windows.


If I were Microsoft I would do this just to placate the EU. But as a practical matter, it seems it would be a disaster. Talk about taking "write once, debug everywhere" to the most extreme. Software developers not only have to test their software against Microsoft's own modules, but against all other alternative modules, and the combinations between them? The combinatorial explosion would cause a testing nightmare.

I'm not sure how it helps the user either. Do I, as a user, really want to have to choose between multiple implementations of ole32.dll (for example)? How would I make such a decision?

I'm not even clear how it helps developers of alternative modules. How would I, as a developer, make money by offering to the public my own implementation of ole32.dll? What, everytime the dll gets loaded, I display some sort of advertising message box, the contents of which I would sell to the highest bidder?

As I said, were I Microsoft, I would totally allow this scenario just to tell the EU to get off my back, but it helps neither users of modules, developers of modules, or developers of software that runs on top of the modules.

Edited 2008-04-08 04:13 UTC

Reply Score: 2