Stop the Noiz

Snow Leopard, Windows 7, Midori, and the End of Windows

Frank Fox - 2008.08.18 - Tip Jar

The cat is out of the bag on the next operating systems from Apple and Microsoft. Apple has announced Snow Leopard (Mac OS X 10.6). Microsoft has promised Windows 7 - or, if that isn't good enough, maybe there will be Midori. Let's pull together the facts and see how they compare.

Snow Leopard

Let's drop in at the Apple Snow Leopard website. Apple has five new things it is highlighting:

  1. OpenCL
  2. QuickTime X
  3. Grand Central
  4. Microsoft Exchange Support
  5. 64-bit

That sounds great, but what do they do?

Every modern computer comes with a GPU (graphics processing unit) to put the picture on the monitor and, when needed, play video games, but the rest of the time its spent cleaning its fur and taking naps. OpenCL is software that lets programmers tap into the processing power of the GPU for general computing so way your high-end video card is doing something when you're not playing World of Warcraft.

As an added bonus, the processing power of a good video card can exceed the power of your regular CPU for some types of calculations. Pushing those pixels around isn't easy. This could be a huge boost to computer performance for no extra cost.

QuickTime X will have souped up support for video codecs and improved playback. This will have close ties to video iPods and watching videos purchased from iTunes. Maybe true HD videos are coming?

If you have a new Mac with an Intel Core 2 Duo or a Quad Core Xeon, you want all those extra processor cores working hard for you. Grand Central gives the operating system multicore support, and it gives additional tools for developers to bring that same functionality to their programs.

Microsoft Exchange Support is built in support for this widely used technology for handling emails in the business world. This is already big news for the iPhone and MobileMe products that have this.

64-bit increases the amount of RAM your computer can use. Currently the Mac Pro tops out at 32 GB; the new theoretical limit will be 16 TB! Now you just have to find enough cash to buy that much RAM. This will only help if RAM chips increase in size by huge leaps and/or cost drops like a rock.

Windows 7

Good try Apple, but be prepared to be blown away by what Microsoft is getting ready to unleash on the world. Where else would I go for Windows news but the Windows 7 FAQ on Paul Thurrott's SuperSite?

As Thurrott points out, Windows 7 is going to be the next "major release" of Windows. There are five features that are highlighted, just like Apple:

  1. Multitouch
  2. New Windows Explorer
  3. Hypervisor
  4. WinFS
  5. Subscription based sales

Is multitouch what I think it is? Yes, this new feature can already be found on the iPhone, the iPod touch, and MacBook (plain, Pro, and Air) trackpads. It's good to see the photocopiers at Redmond are working hard.

The new version of Windows Explorer will use the "ribbon" user interface that Microsoft introduced with Office 2007 to replace pulldown menus.

Hypervisor is a code word for virtualization. This is just like what Parallel, VMware, and other programs are already doing with Leopard today (and did with Tiger before it).

Then there is the infamous WinFS, but they may not call it that. You may remember WinFS as one of the features cut from Longhorn (now known as Windows Server 2008) after years of hype from Microsoft. I guess that we can say that Microsoft doesn't give up on a good idea; they just give it a new name and keep trying.

Saving my favorite new feature for last, we may be able to buy all this as a subscription. What more could we want? This gives us the privilege of sending Microsoft money every year to renew our subscription in order to continue using all the wonderful Microsoft goodness.

Midori

We can always count on Microsoft giving their fans a little extra. When I heard about Midori, I knew that this could top everything. Here we have Microsoft taking Google's idea of having all your software and data on the Internet and getting it for "free" - and spinning it into a highly profitable business for Microsoft. What could possibly go wrong?

What really gets people excited is the idea that there might finally be an end to Windows. Open up the heavens, and let's start the hallelujah chorus, the "end of Windows"! That's the kind of news a lot of people have been dreaming of, and it's Microsoft who's going to deliver?

After my head stopped spinning, I regained my cynicism enough to say, "Yeah, right. It will take a serious silver bullet to kill the money-sucking nightmare that is Windows."

Until that day, I'm betting that Snow Leopard will do more for putting Windows in a coffin than Midori ever will. LEM

Update 2008.08.20

A late addition from none other than Microsoft is upstaging Paul Thurrott's Supersite. That's right, the big guns are coming out to hype Win 7. How could they pop out to ruin my well-researched comparison?

I saw posted this long list of "main feature teams". No way could Microsoft be releasing this many new features:

  • Applets and Gadgets
  • Assistance and Support Technologies
  • Core User Experience
  • Customer Engineering and Telemetry
  • Deployment and Component Platform
  • Desktop Graphics
  • Devices and Media
  • Devices and Storage
  • Documents and Printing
  • Engineering System and Tools
  • File System
  • Find and Organize
  • Fundamentals
  • Internet Explorer (including IE 8 down-level)
  • International
  • Kernel & VM
  • Media Center
  • Networking - Core
  • Networking - Enterprise
  • Networking - Wireless
  • Security
  • User Interface Platform
  • Windows App Platform

This list isn't new features at all. This is just a list of things that all operating systems have. Microsoft needs to give a better scoop on their next OS for people to bother stopping in to read this blog.

It looks like the Microsoft hype machine hasn't warmed up yet. I'm sure by next year we'll see them solving the oil crisis, bringing world peace - and just maybe they'll have a plan to take on Apple.

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