Windows Client Collapse?

Last week, I voiced a few concerns over Gartner's analysis of virtualization. The esteemed group argued that PC virtualization will spell the end of "the monolithic, general-purpose operating system" (read: Windows).

I did an analysis of Windows on the desktop and found it almost impossible to kill. Compatibility, OEMs and the economics of Windows PCs will keep the OS large and in charge for years to come. There's simply nothing that can replace it. The Mac, Linux, mobile devices -- all just nibble around the edges of the Microsoft monopoly.

Now, the Gartner gurus have another proclamation: Windows is collapsing due to its sheer size and the only thing that can save it is virtualization (the exact opposite of the company's first prediction). The idea is for Microsoft to write all-new OS code and use a virtual layer to maintain backward compatibility. It sounds interesting in theory, but these kinds of compatibility layers are always way harder to write than you might think.

Don't these analysts even talk to each other or read each other's press releases? And just what is going to replace Windows? The expensive Mac? Linux? Pure Web? Tell me where I'm wrong and Gartner is right by writing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Microsoft Builds a Simple OS
Microsoft may be in a position to replace Windows with its own new OS, after all. Microsoft Research has a brand-new, stripped-down, ready-to-rock OS development called Singularity.

The new OS is designed from scratch to resist attacks such as buffer overflows and actually checks code for stability and compatibility before it runs. It all sounds great. But, then again, Microsoft will have to do something about all that backward compatibility.

Redmond Helps Hardware Gurus Innovate
While Microsoft Research preps Singularity, the same group has also built a unique system to test out new hardware designs.

On the surface, it seems like a killer PC, one a geeky teenage game freak might own. It's got a boatload of computer and network interfaces and 64 gigs of RAM. But unlike that sick gaming system, Microsoft's BEE3 has a bunch of programmable arrays, so designers can turn it into anything they want without having to build new chips first.

BEE3 is based on work from UC Berkeley (BEE stands for the Berkeley Emulation Engine) and was built with the help of Canadian design company Celestica.

Real Security Needed for Virtual Environments
At the recent RSA Security Conference, the talk wasn't just about patches, hackers from Bulgaria and the latest virus. Much of the conversation revolved around security for virtual shops.

The concept is surprisingly simple and alarmingly scary. If you have 1,000 VMs, a single attack can compromise them all. Vendors are just now starting to address these issues, and, fortunately, we haven't had that one killer attack that makes us all rethink the drive to virtualize. VMware is helping by sharing APIs with security companies, who are now starting to build VM-specific tools.

How do you protect your VMs? Clue us all in by writing dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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