An October surprise -- that's how many are interpreting Microsoft's 11th-hour revelation that it will be providing a virtualized copy of Windows XP as a free compatibility add-on to Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.
Stories by Randall C. Kennedy
Will Windows XP still be properly supported by Microsoft and, as a primary development target, by third parties? Is there something XP die-hards have missed, some hidden gotcha that's going to trip them up 12, 18, or 24 months from now?
There's been a lot of chatter lately about how Microsoft needs to start over with Windows. Many point to the (NT) code base's 16-year history and how the need to maintain backward compatibility is hampering efforts to move the platform forward. According to these critics, a clean break is necessary in order to stop the kind of bloatware madness that so crippled Windows Vista. Dump the creaking legacy that is the Win32 API/ATL/MFC, they say, and solve the compatibility riddle through VM technology.
What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away. Such has been the conventional wisdom surrounding the Windows/Intel (aka Wintel) duopoly since the early days of Windows 95. In practical terms, it means that performance advancements on the hardware side are quickly consumed by the ever-increasing complexity of the Windows/Office code base. Case in point: Microsoft Office 2007, which, when deployed on Windows Vista, consumes more than 12 times as much memory and nearly three times as much processing power as the version that graced PCs just seven short years ago, Office 2000.
They say market leadership has its privileges. When you're way out in front and the competition is just a distant blip in your rearview horizon, you get to take a breather. Coast a bit. Maybe focus on the big picture for a while. Yes, it's good to be the leader. All of which begs the question: What the hell is wrong with VMware?