Over the last 24 hours I haven't been able to help myself but dig a little deeper into the Vista story and I have to tell you, I've not read more fascinating content on the Internet than I found at the Mini Microsoft blog in the comments section on this post.
There are an amazing 400+ comments but don't let that deter you because all the good stuff is right at the top. Basically, it's a whole bunch of Microsoft developers and staffers bitching about everything from compensation, hours, shipping schedules, management incompetence, accountability and so on. If you want to take a real peak under the hood, forget Scoble, this is where the real naked conversation is going on. (The quality of comments decreases exponentially after the post gets slashdotted and the geek mob arrives but the dude behind mini Microsoft has provided a summary of the best comments here).
Basically, the thread gets down to the fact that Vista is a bloated product and Microsoft has become a bloated company, with one staffer comparing what M$ has become to the old Big Bloated Bluey.
The real problem for Microsoft is it has invested about as much money as the Gross Domestic Product of more than a few African nations in an operating system that became out-of-date about a year before it was due to ship. The simple fact is we don't need another desktop operating system. We need an Everywhere OS.
When was the last time you smacked your PC across the display because XP didn't look pretty enough or was lacking some key feature you needed. Don't ask me because I couldn't tell you.
Now tell me when was the last time you found yourself at a loss because there was some file on your home PC that you really needed when you were on the road. I reckon I have that problem once a week, at least. Do you use multiple computers too? Find it frustrating trying to remember how you set up the file system on each one?
I've written before how I think Google is working towards an online/offline future. Now if Microsoft really wanted to trump the big G, this is where they could hit them with a great big plank of four by two.
Start the foundation of your next operating system with the kind of technology that appears to drive Omindrive or Sharpcast (I say appear because both are still pre-public beta so I've not played with either yet). Don't tack online tricks onto the back of a desktop. Start with this model. Get replication, synchronisation, online/offline file system models right first and foremost and then tack everything else on around it.
I don't care if you have to start again, nobody does. Build a skinny Windows emulator for those apps that some customers just have to have, but once you give developers a platform to build all of their applications according to the online/offline model, who's going to want to keep a desktop bound application, anyway.
Change the paradigm, Microsoft and watch the innovation flourish. Re-energise your devs with a project that really does matter. Enabled your third-party developers to re-cast their applications. Give people a real reason to upgrade their software and give our industry a real-lift in the process. Build the Everywhere OS. Let me centralise my desktops, my favourites, my preferences, my file structure and have it follow me where ever I may go. And while you're there, start again with security so that we can make this model inherently protected.
Because once you enable true online/offline, all these AJAX applications start to look pretty lame. Finally, you enable the software industry to build true, rich applications that can natively harness the collaborative and everywhere nature of the Internet.
And guess what, as an added bonus for software monopolisits who call within the next five minutes, free to you, a subscription model! Finally you have a genuine reason not only to ask your users to pay for that up-front upgrade, because who the hell wouldn't upgrade to the Everywhere OS, plus you can charge them an annual fee for their online storage requirements.
Google may be heading in this direction with G:Drive, GDS and Lighthouse but they're at a fundamental disadvantage because they don't control the OS of-choice today so they have very little leverage in regard to the offline part of the equation. Apple are more intent on pushing into the loungeroom and the open source brigade would take a decade to regroup and respond to this kind of initiative. In fact, really only Microsoft has both the online and offline clouth plus the developer network to properly pull this off within the forseeable future.
Maybe Microsoft is headed in this direction with Live? However, it doesn't appear to be. I don't think it can do this until it makes the strategic decision to let loose it legacy model and start again from scratch. But I reckon if you took 50 of the smartest devs in Microsoft and gave them a project like this to sink their teeth into, they'd probably beat out Vista, if they didn't have to worry about the backward-compatibility issue.
Hell, if Microsoft won't do it, maybe there's a start-up out there who can. OS X wasn't created by Apple let's remember. Build this and I reckon you'll have Bill and Steve coming knocking on your door in double-time flat. You can even have my Everywhere OS name, free, gratis, on me.
The industry needs this. Build it and we will come.