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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Beyond Vista : A New World

The launch of Vista, will probably mark the end of the road for Windows as an all-in-one operating system writes Stephen Wildstorm. Projects on the scale of Vista - updating and writing tens of millions of lines of interlocking code - are becoming impossible to debug fully. The challenge facing Microsoft is not simply its massive size but the fact that its pieces interact in ways that are beyond human comprehension. With typical installation of Windows XP Professional, running into the range of 1,600 "dynamic link libraries –bringing in potential cause for cause troublesome unanticipated interactions. The hope lay in new technologies that can herald a new paradigm for software – those that can divide a large and complex operating system into a number of smaller, simpler units that run on one computer but function independently of each other exist today. Such a software look much like today's software, but it will be less prone to glitches, crashes, and attacks. A single computer might be split into three "virtual servers" - one to handle Web pages, one to process e-mail, and the third to run a database. An immediate benefit is improved reliability, because a software crash on any one virtual machine does not affect the others. Intel’s scenario shows one virtual machine might handle ordinary applications. A second could be optimized to handle digital media: music, videos, or photos. Both of these systems would link to the network (and Internet) through a third virtual machine that would handle the actual connections. This division of labor could make PCs safer, since the communications module would be solely dedicated to secure networking and need to be updated only to fend off viruses and other malware. Except for the networking part, which will be supported on new Intel chips solution is available using software from Microsoft or VMware. But each virtual machine would have to run its own copy of Windows, making the whole system spectacularly inefficient. The post-Vista computer will probably use a far more streamlined operating system that loads only the components needed by each virtual machine. Linux has this sort of modularity today, but Windows does not. These require many processors to run the OS and today nearly all the chips produced by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices will have at least two processors. The Sony PlayStation 3 is built around a nine-processor IBM chip, and Intel has plans for chips packed with thousands of processors. This is a truly disruptive change likely to materialize in next 6 years and the post-Vista world could see the first real competition for the desktop sinceg Windows 95 cemented Microsoft's dominance a decade ago. Amazing view of things expected to come – though we may have to wait for a while. It would be interesting to see which vendor would roll out such a system – at least three/four are fully capable of undertaking such massive initatitive – unlike Stephen, I still think that Microsoft may also play a role here as in the runup to the launch of vista – it said that vista is being rearchitected differently. Clearly better times await us.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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