Marketing cliché waiting to happen: Windows on Everything

A Niche in Time

Marketing cliché waiting to happen: Windows on Everything

It’s been a long time since I bought my first computer. Pre-eBay, that Babbage fellow was offering a good deal on a refurbed Difference Engine, but wouldn’t you know it? I snagged a Commodore VIC-20 instead. Given today’s state of the art, the VIC was pathetic; but for the time, the mere thought that I could purchase a computer for my home for $300 was thrilling, even if there wasn’t much I could do with it.

Auntie wonders whether we’re at another one of those points at which the marketplace changes dramatically. Over the past 20 years or so, players in the computing space have come and gone, and what’s left, except on the enterprise server level, is predominantly Windows/Intel (I hate the W*nt*l contraction!), with Apple in a supporting player role.

Why does Auntie think another (ugh) paradigm shift is upon us? Well, the most important resource on your computer isn’t on your computer any more. You can get onto the Internet with a PC, a Palm Pilot, a cell phone, several brands of exercise equipment, genetically engineered vegetables, a good wok… everything’s Net-enabled these days, and these technologies are maturing, so that you’re getting reasonably fast response from them (except the vegetables; they don’t say too much). PCs are now just one class of Internet access device, sitting in their own niche. We use them at home, when we want the additional features they provide, and we use them in the workplace as ubiquitous desktop solutions, as well as for servers throughout the enterprise. We also use our handhelds, whether they’re Palms or WinCE devices or whatever. We can get news headlines on our pagers, and sports scores on our cell phones. Some of the more adventurous among us put up Linux systems for their reliability, their open-source philosophy, or because we enjoy the travails of developers trying to provide the same functionality of the Windows GUI while avoiding those cranky calls from Bill and Steve’s legal department.

This fragmentation, I do divine, is inevitable, and most likely a good thing. Yes, especially for MCPs, because we get to figure out how to get Windows to communicate and integrate with all these different devices and operating systems. It’s no small challenge to build an enterprise from Windows systems; the challenge becomes greater and, we hope, more rewarding when you need to get your infrastructure and applications to deliver commodity futures data from a Unix mainframe through Windows-resident business rules through a Linux Web server through a satellite link to Web-enabled display devices implanted on the retinas of every rancher in the Mountain time zone.

“Windows Everything” and “Windows Everywhere” are empty exercises in wishful thinking. “Windows with Everything, Everywhere” is the mantra that will keep the PC niche healthy and relevant for the foreseeable future, until the next technological firestorm lets us all go off and trade commodities from ranches in the Rockies.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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