Quite a few things bother me about Microsoft's Windows 10, but here I want to focus on just two aspects of what Microsoft is saying.
Never mind the hype around offering Windows as a service. (The idea of Microsoft providing continuous updates through a continuous delivery build process scares the heck out of me. Besides, haven't they always imposed continuous bug fixes on their users?) And let's also ignore the promise of a free upgrades from Windows 7 and Windows 8 for customers who switch within the first year. (Read between the lines. Users won't see the value, so Microsoft has to give it away.)
Instead of talking about those topics, I want to limit my Microsoft bashing to the following two things I'm hearing about Windows 10:
- It will run on all devices, from small objects to larger desktops.
- The OS will come with APIs that allow developers to write applications that will run on all platforms.
The all-things-to-all-people approach and the write-once-run-anywhere fantasies are just that - fantasies. Devices have different processing power, memory capacity, connectivity options, battery power, screen size, and input mechanisms. Different devices are meant to be used in different contexts. Some are meant to be held in one hand and used while you're walking. Others are meant to be used while you're lounging around your house. Still others are meant to be used while you're sitting at a desk at work.
Microsoft is basically saying, "Trust us. We'll take care of all the underlying details. You just focus on business logic and end-user needs." What's more, some people in the press are making this idea out to be a new strategy. Remember that just two years ago, Microsoft released Windows 8 as an operating system optimised for touch, but suitable for all use cases. Wasn't that a big enough flop for the titan from Redmond? Am I the only one who remembers that Windows 8 never worked until Microsoft released Windows 8.1?
And isn't the write-once-run-anywhere promise the same promise behind HTML5, which Facebook counted on as the backbone for their mobile app, but then backed out of to take the native approach after they ran into the predictable snags? Facebook's mobile app is the most widely used mobile app in the world, and that's only because Facebook came to its senses and coded the app differently for different devices, which gives it a natural look and feel.
Microsoft reminds me of the Titanic, which everybody assumed was too big to fail. We know how that story ended. Or maybe a more likely scenario is that Microsoft won't fail as a company, but that Windows 10 will fail as a product — and when Windows 10 does fall to earth, it will go down much like the Hindenburg, the big zeppelin that came crashing from the sky in flames.
IT directors who grew up listening to Led Zeppelin may know that the band name came from comments made by Keith Moon and John Entwistle when they had been asked to quit "The Who" and join the new band as drummer and bassist. The two declined Jimmy Page's offer, predicting the idea would go down like a "lead balloon".
So I ask you. Will Windows 10 be Microsoft's lead zeppelin - a giant monster destined to burst into flames and fall spectacularly to the ground? Or will Windows 10 be Microsoft's Led Zeppelin - a dominant force that surprises us all precisely because somebody dared to do things differently?
I wouldn't bet my enterprise on it.