Windows

Gates envisions new "platform for innovation" with Windows Vista


A dozen years ago, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates launched Windows 95 in a famously glitzy presentation with the help of Jay Leno and the "Start Me Up" campaign. (There was also a special Windows 95 Web site on an emerging phenomenon called the Internet, and at the time it quickly became one of the Internet's most popular sites ever, before it crashed Microsoft's Web servers.) A dozen years before that, in 1983, Microsoft started the Windows phenomenon by launching the very first version of the OS in New York City, promising to change computers forever with a graphical user interface for the masses.

On Monday night, Gates and company were back where it all started, in the Big Apple, making bold new promises about the latest Windows operating system - Windows Vista - which Microsoft touts as the most significant renovation of the OS since Windows 95. The primary message was that Windows Vista will become the hub of the emerging digital lifestyle for work and play by seamlessly connecting the user experience from the phone to the laptop to the desktop to the TV.

"Everything is becoming digital,” said Gates at the flashy Vista launch in Times Square, "and the platform that allows people to be creative and build new applications and show off new hardware advances, that's a central element that allows it all to thrive… People's expectations for how we can do better digital health records, better education, better collaboration; all of those things rest on having this very strong platform."

For Gates, that's what Windows is now - a platform. "It's definitely a platform for innovation. We've opened it up, and already we're seeing partners doing great things."

So what will Vista really do? Here are what I view as some of the most important issues for business users:

  • A lot of the power is under the hood with .NET 3.0, the Windows Presentation Foundation, and the Windows Communication Foundation; in Vista, these technologies will allow programmers to develop a new breed of applications that will be more secure, more interactive, and much more multimedia savvy.
  • Improved desktop search and the introduction of tagging - both of which aim to simplify the process of finding your stuff
  • A much more integrated multimedia experience that makes it faster and easier to deal with digital photos and videos and to output them to other media and devices
  • Ramped up XML and RSS support and integration to allow data to move across different platforms, form factors, and devices
  • A better security model for protecting users' privacy and productivity

And for home users (and business users who also use their business machines as home), there are also some significant improvements that could improve your digital life, including the ability to quickly turn your photos into a DVD slideshow, being able to get your photos and videos on your widescreen TV, DirectX 10 for more advanced PC gaming, and better parental controls that allow you to manage and monitor what your kids are doing on their computers.

Undoubtedly, this is a long way from Windows 95, and a light year away from the first version of Windows that Gates touted in New York City 24 years ago. Vista now represents an interesting dichotomy in that it is essentially a "beyond the PC" strategy for Windows and yet it still has the PC as the anchor and hub of the computing experience.

Shortly after Windows 95 debuted, the Internet gained critical mass and the big question was whether Internet applications would eventually displace the OS and the PC as we know it and relegate Windows and other operating systems to antique status. That obviously hasn't happened, at least not yet. The launch of Vista shows that Windows is as entrenched in our computing lives as ever, especially for business users. In fact, with Windows Mobile, Media Center, Tablet PCs, and Ultra-Mobile PCs, the footprint of Windows is only expanding.

Nevertheless, when I think of where Windows might be a dozen years from now, I think the same question that haunted it with the mass adoption of the Internet still applies. Will the OS take a back seat to Internet software or will it continue to drive the ship on where computing and digital living are going? Whether Vista is truly adopted as a "platform" and not just a piece of proprietary software that runs PCs will have a lot to do with answering that question. Microsoft's old nemesis, Apple, which has risen from the ashes in recent years, looks like it might have something to say about it as well.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

12 comments
bixbyru
bixbyru

The first Windows was a copy of VisioOn by VisiCorp. '95 was 3.11 with a CDE-like interface. Vista is a lot like a cross between OS/X-Aqua and Linux-Gnome. As far as net-centric apps, not if MS has any say. The idea of platform-independence scares them silly. That's why they've fought Java at every turn. As for .NOT, unless the enterprise is all Gates Groupies that's not the way to go. After all, Vista does NOTHING that a modern Linux box doesn't do, other than perfectly support a few MS applications. We can and must do better, and for ourselves. People are slowly getting sick of the treadmill, and while it's hard to get top-notch geeks to write boring stuff, alternatives are reaching a level of maturity such that MS *might* be doomed to fail in the forseeable furure. I for one hope so. Bix

bbezanson
bbezanson

The first version of Windows was not out in 1983. Lisa from Apple was out in January 1983 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Lisa). The Mac followed in January 1984. Windows came out in 1985, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Windows for more information.

bixbyru
bixbyru

Windows was *announced* on November 10th, 1983. Bix

bbezanson
bbezanson

So does "announced" make it shipped? What is Vista was announced ~5 years ago. So by the same reasoning in the blog it was "invented" then -- but as we know from at least one MS email leaked this week, they pushed the new search feature in after seeing how it worked in Mac OS Tiger almost 2 years ago ;-). I'm looking for the version of Vista with SQL Server as the base file system -- that was the main feature of the original OS. Guess we'll have to see what 2012 brings :-).

bixbyru
bixbyru

The author just said that Billy boy was in the big Apple in '83 hawking Windows, not that it had shipped. That was the anouncement party, fella. That said, the AS/400 had an RDB for a filesystem way back when, and in many was so did OS/2. While NTFS is loosely based on the OS/2 HPFS, the inspiration was the preliminary 16-bit vwersion. IBM made MANY changes before that shipped, but MS didn't and today it's still basically the same model. However... Take an OS/2 3.x desktop and create a shadow (link, alias, shortcut) of some executable (.exe file) anywhere on any drive. Now shut it down. Boot the box off a floppy and from the command prompt move that file somewhere else (even another drive) rename it something weird (say narf.cf or they.spank, rather than foo.exe) and shut down. When you re-boot the box and click the shadow, the program will still fire right up. The system object model ruled, and in many ways still does. And why can't MS do this fifteen years later...? Yeah. Bix

florida_kes
florida_kes

...with some eye-candy thrown in for the end user.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

--is a job for a multi doctored engineer.You have to know electronics,audio,video,and telephone all at that level.In the end when the operating system is in the CPU at 450 trillion cps everything that you connect just works.

acousticb1
acousticb1

MS has hit it low because it affects template makers like template zone ie kmt software. they cant really use their programs with MS office this sounds like MS ddint plan on so many incompatabilities. It is not fair to users of the program.

acousticb1
acousticb1

Any computer sold in 06 and 06 that was stated to be vista capable the manufacturers who use their own application disks should be forced to give out application disks that are vista ready especially if the applications are necessary and factory installed

Rtist
Rtist

I'm sorry this is getting a bit off topic, but has anyone read the Vista "fine print" when clicking on the acceptance button where you, the consumer, can lose control over your PC? The legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software in your computer and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge. Is this legal? Vista it appears, can wrestle control of the user experience away from the user, and all this to appease the Movie Industry.

techrepublic
techrepublic

I agree. A company should support its clients.

acousticb1
acousticb1

The computer arrives several days before windows comes out. That is what I am talking about. I have other software that what i cant use until versions come out. This is not fair.I dont like IE 7

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