Ten years ago around this very time—April through June 2008—our intrepid Microsoft guru Peter Bright evidently had an identity crisis. Could this lifelong PC user really have been pushed to the brink? Was he considering a switch to… Mac OS?!? While our staff hopefully enjoys a less stressful Memorial Day this year, throughout the weekend we’re resurfacing this three part series that doubles as an existential operating system dilemma circa 2008. Part one ran on April 21, 2008, and it appears unedited below.
A couple of Gartner analysts have recently claimed that Windows is “collapsing”—that it’s too big, too sprawling, and too old to allow rapid development and significant new features. Although organizations like Gartner depend on trolling to drum up business, I think this time they could be onto something. “Collapsing” is over-dramatic—gradual decline is a more likely outcome—but the essence of what they’re saying—and why they’re saying it—rings true.
Windows is dying, Windows applications suck, and Microsoft is too blinkered to fix any of it—that’s the argument. The truth is that Windows is hampered by 25-year old design decisions. These decisions mean that it’s clunky to use and absolutely horrible to write applications for. The applications that people do write are almost universally terrible. They’re ugly, they’re inconsistent, they’re disorganized; there’s no finesse, no care lavished on them. Microsoft—surely the company with the greatest interest in making Windows and Windows applications exude quality—is, in fact, one of the worst perpetrators.