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Analysts: Windows' monolith design collapsing

updated 04:30 pm EDT, Wed April 9, 2008

Gartner on Win Monolith

Microsoft may have no choice but to break up Windows into many different versions if it wants to avoid serious long-term problems with its code, according to analysis by Gartner analysts. Neil MacDonald and Michael Silver of the research group note that the operating system is being asked to cover too many aspects of computing, creating a "monolithic" code base that is both too demanding on some classes of hardware and consumes too much space. The company's decision to extend Windows XP for budget systems is a sign that Vista has stretched too far, Gartner's experts note.

They also observe that Microsoft's emphasis on a single core for all variants on an operating system makes even 2001's Windows XP less practical on some platforms. On notebooks such as the Eee PC or Classmate PC, XP consumes twice as much storage as custom Linux installations, which ASUS, Intel, and others often use to pare down the size of the OS without sacrificing the features they need.

Microsoft's focus on a singular code foundation has also prevented it from porting its operating system to cellphones and handhelds. Unlike Apple, the company is currently incapable of translating its OS directly to a mobile version. Windows Mobile is instead based on Windows CE, a separate though related platform originally meant for PDAs, while the iPhone and iPod touch use a variant on Mac OS X which shares the same core but prunes features unnecessary in portables.

Intel has also said that most devices in the Mobile Internet Device class, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U8, will need Linux or other alternative software both to run smoothly and to provide enough free capacity on a given drive.

MacDonald and Silver instead suggest that Microsoft develop Windows 7 or later versions as a modular operating system. The Redmond firm could then add only the code necessary for a given device. It would also eliminate chronic problems associated with Windows by letting Microsoft fence off applications that don't need access to certain aspects of the operating system.

Microsoft hasn't discussed most details of Windows 7 but says it will represent a larger change than Windows Vista when it appears in 2010.

by MacNN Staff



  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Layer upon layer

    Layer upon layer. It must be awful to be six overlays between keyboard and processor hardware.

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    this has been their problem all along. by tying everything into windows they have created so many holes that hackers have had a field day, no matter how many times ms fanboys tell you that windows has so many attacks because of market share. it's all those things integrated into the os, plain and simple.

  1. russellb

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I dont understand ... why do they need to break it up ... (I do understand as far as the current windows code) BUT if Apple can write a fully blown OS that works on any computer , does all and more than windows, can run on a mobile platform .. why should Microsoft have to produce multiple versions ????

    They just to to properly write a new single version of windows that runs properly.

    We run all Macs at our workplace , but please I, had a user come to with a Windows laptop and he was having h*** with IE7 on Vista .. slow startups etc .. after 5 min of researching I found lots of others having same problems .. OK re install IE7 I thought .. Oh you can't it's part of the OS, cant even download it. Then I found the OS even has a system / tools / to specially run IE7 without plugins ... WHY WHY should an OS expect problems to the point that it has to even have special tools to run a base browser in order to fix problems c*** DISGUSTING. Imagine if Apple announced that it was releasing a special fix it tool to run Safari cut down when users have problems with the full Safari ... they would be shot .. yet people accept that this is how windows works !!!

  1. kyleharry

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I was under the impression that Microsoft was developing MinWin that would reduce the core to 25 MB which probably would be small enough to port to any system while adding features and GUIs on top to fit the computer purpose required be that mobile phones, mobile touch, notebook, desktop or server. Clearly Microsoft are learning the lessons that other OS makers have learnt and abandoning most of its useless and expansive code.

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Why so many versions?

    I'd venture it's because they're not making any hardware money off the PC platform, they have to make it all on the OS. And having a half-dozen version means they can charge more than the OEM/upgrade prices for most of those. It may well be that Apple can afford to have a single OS for all users, since they make margin on the hardware. Even at that, it would be in MS's favor to make a modular system that would take less engineering to create different versions (cost goes down, margin goes up). I bet they know that and this could be a direction to head in 7. Nicholas Negroponte, back about a decade ago, predicted that MS would have to de-bloat, but thought the cause would be the more efficient use of HW through modular-capable architectures like Java applets. Don't recall if FOSS or web apps or HW shrinking were likely contributors, but looks like he was near the mark.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    well, if they follow through on that, it would be one of the first intelligent things MS has EVER done wrt Windows.

    Of course, by the time they work that approach out, Apple will have lapped them several times... which is what drives MS to copy what Apple does over and over, just so that they can remain 3 steps behind them.

  1. MeandmyMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    why is it...

    that analysts are giving Microsoft guidance that seems to be in agreement in some form or another by all the posters here that have added their .02 cents worth on what MS should do to help themselves out, but yet all the highly paid execs at MS could see "the problem" or chose to close their eyes and negate it or didn't listen to their software developers on the philosophy of "would've, could've, should've"?

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Enough said.


  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Another perspective

    Another perspective on this topic:

  1. ecrelin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    M$ fanboys… testudo?

    I am waiting for an answer/explanation/response to the true root-of-the-problem question as posed by russellb from a real Windoze expert and fanboy. Although russellb wasn't really accurate and Apple's mobile OS is actually a pared down and separate version akin to what they would need to do with Windoze et al. But why is it that the largest team of developers on earth who "completely rewrote the system from the ground up" for 5 years couldn't have made it comparable or competitive with the family of *nix OSs which are based on code and a protected memory kernel concept developed in the 1960's? Was is a lack of funds? I think not. Was it a lack of large enough installed base? Hmmmm, no again. Are they a gaggle of clowns led by armchair technologists who would be more accurately described as ruthless professional wealth builders? I bet that is closest to the truth.

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