As the costs associated with broadband and storage have decreased, applications that were traditionally bound to the desktop have moved to the web. People have grown tired of paying for constant upgrades, dealing with security threats, and patching their machines. They don’t want software. They want services. And, by the way, they want them to just work. So what does that mean for the fate of the Windows operating system as it exists today?
The days of dominance are over. The Windows Desktop is no longer are a point of control for computing. The web is the new platform. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the web is distributed, loosely coupled, and decentralized. Competitors have already started to chip away at the Microsoft Empire. This free for all is only going to get more messy as entrants continue to be funded by opportunistic venture capitalists.
The traditional OS will soon go the way of the dinosaur. There will no longer be a separate desktop and web browser. There will be a single browser to an always-on, ubiquitous, personal information cloud. This browser will leverage resources both locally and on the web. The operating system will be more like an exokernel that exposes hardware level services to the browser such as native rendering. As a stepping stone towards this vision, perhaps a new architecture will be Linux/Browser combination. Computing will be seamless and pervasive. The distinction between the network and the computer will no longer be noticeable. Sound like a dream? I assure you it is very real and just around the corner.
What will Microsoft’s role in the new world be? I don’t know. They are definitely making the right moves of late. But I do know this–Windows days are numbered.