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The Windows 8 Path

I'm not generally a fan of analysts, or more specifically analyst firms. When vendors pay for research, one must suspect each and every finding. Are most legit? Sure. Is too much research seriously sketchy? Fo sho.

One outfit I really like is Directions on Microsoft. Powered by ex-Microsoft execs, Directions (no one calls it DoM...but perhaps they should) doesn't do Gartner-style prediction research. DoM is all about analysis -- bringing clarity to the complex ever-changing world of Microsoft.

Last week the group laid out its view of where Windows 8, both client and server, is going. Here are a few highlights:

Of course you probably know that the Windows 8 client has two dual personalities -- it will run on x86 and ARM low-power processors. And there are two distinctly different interfaces: a rich, old-style "classic" interface (more or less like we have with XP, Vista and Win 7) and a new tile-based look called "Metro" that looks more like a smartphone than a PC.

The goal is for Win 8 classic to run all Win 7-compatible apps. This means that IT will be largely interested in Win 8 on x86 machines where the migration (hopefully) will be relatively smooth.

Metro, which is core to ARM, is more disruptive. Older apps must be rewritten or ported, and there is a huge question over device drivers, which is problematic even when you stick with the same processor architecture.

Another item that will lead IT towards x86 and Win 8 classic is Hyper-V, expected to be bundled and only work with x86. And productivity workhorse Office isn't even guaranteed to run on ARM.

Windows Server 8 has been lost in all the client hype, but this is perhaps even more important to IT. Details are still a bit unclear (though Redmond magazine will have a full report in our November issue), but Microsoft is making one point of emphasis: Based on success with Windows Server 2008 Core, with no GUI, Microsoft is also pushing the stripped down version of Windows Server 8. DoM thinks the server OS might even beat the client to market, coming about next year of the year after.

Have you looked at early Win 8 client or server code? If so, talk to me at

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/28/2011 at 1:18 PM


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