Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Future of Operating Systems

Where are operating systems heading? I haven't done any in depth evaluations of operating systems in a very long time. I've been working the application development side for a long while now. I still find the need to keep my working knowledge of the systems going from time to time. I recently, with the help of Sun's VirtualBox and Microsoft's Virtual Desktop, installed some of the latest releases of Fedora, OpenSolaris, SUSE and Microsoft's latest Windows 7.

First of all let me say that all of the operating systems installed without any issues at all. It was completely painless. The one interesting note, funny actually, was that Microsoft's Windows 7 beta would not install in their own virtual manager but installed without any issues in Sun's VirtualBox.

Looking at the OS's from a strictly desktop perspective the big thing that jumped out at me was nothing. Yep I saw nothing of real interest. That lead me to the question, have operating systems for the desktop reached a maturity level where changes now are incremental and uninteresting from business use perspective? Yes I can see where the technical operating system enthusiast would like the latest and greatest, but what is there or coming that would drive a corporation to want to upgrade? Upgrades of operating systems, especially desktop, can be pretty expensive and painful. There usually has to be a significant justification.

Microsoft has in the past been pretty successful at pushing folks to upgrade by simply forcing the issue. That strategy as of late hasn't worked as well. So where do operating systems go to make upgrading compelling? What does the typical operating system need to do for the corporate user? It needs security, it needs to run their office productivity apps (Work, Excel or OpenOffice etc) and it needs to be an effective container for their web applications. Is there really more than that? What is going to drive upgrades now?

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