Like most of you, I have been using the Windows operating system every day for as long as I can remember.
I remember my first reaction to seeing the user interface of Windows 2000 and marveling at how radical, clean, beautiful and fast it was.
It had a browser that was quick and when you hadn’t loaded a bunch of applications on it, it was super quick.
Fast forward to Windows XP.
Before all the security threats and hackers made it the worlds most hacked Operating System, Windows XP was amazing!
It extended the UI of Windows 2000 and added more color, graphics and user tweaks. It was a shadow of Windows 7 and gave us some hope that things were moving in the right direction.
Then came Windows Vista.
Now, I actually seem to be one of the few who liked Windows Vista.
I thought it had it’s problems but was an honest good faith attempt to get past Windows XP. It didn’t work obviously and led to a more successful iteration of the OS called Windows 7.
Now Windows 7 is a solid operating system that I love. Not because of this tweak or that feature but because – it just works. It stays on, doesnt crash and is a reliable work horse. It detects drivers and new peripherals effortlessly and stays the heck out of my way for the most part.
Windows 7 is great. Windows 8 will probably be as good or better.
Here’s my beef.
Look at all the screenshots above and you can see that basically, the UI hasnt changed much since Windows 2000.
I was shocked by how similar the screen has stayed over 11 long years..
Theres a central desktop, recycle bin, start menu and a bar at the bottom. Files can be kept alone or in folders and we double click to open up files.
This is our 11th year of looking at the desktop the EXACT SAME WAY.
What has changed in the 11 years is the internet, websites, browsers, web applications, hardware prices, processing power and storage. These are all EXTERNAL to the desktop.
For that reason, I continue to believe that at this time, Microsoft is vulnerable to Apple and Google among others.
Technology history tells us that when things stay the same too long, that creates a strategic opportunity for competition.
- For phones, things stood still and Apple changed the UI paradigm.
- For browsers, IE and Mozilla stood still and Chrome changed the standard for speed and startup time.
- For PC’s, the desktop and laptops stayed still and Apple invented and own the Tablet space.
I believe the Operating system is next.
For most of the world, 90% of the functions of the PC are abstracted and vague. If you dont believe me, go to my Windows 7 features page (opens in a new window) and tell me how many of those functions you use on a daily basis.
Most people use the PC to read email, browse the web, use Notepad and the Office Suite. While there are tons of other games and applications as well, these are the core functions.
Whoever can simplify this experience on the desktop will eat into that market.
It’s just a matter of time.