"Windows is too monolithic," declares Gartner, opening the door for Linux

Windows has become too monolithic to be good for any particular application anymore. Linux doesn't share that problem.

"The Innovator's Dilemma" is finally catching up with Microsoft. As Gartner analyst Michael Silver declares (and ZDNet's Larry Dignan captures),

Microsoft's Windows juggernaut is collapsing as it tries to support 20 years of applications and becomes more complicated by the minute. Meanwhile, Windows has outgrown hardware and customers are pondering skipping Vista to wait for Windows 7. If Windows is going to remain relevant it will need radical changes...."Windows is too monolithic," says Silver.

That monolithic nature will become ever less relevant as more and more applications are written for the web...and simply won't care what OS is running on the client. Gartner figures that 2011 will represent a tipping point when developers will care more about developing for the Web than for the desktop.

Ironically, Gartner's recommendations for how Windows should change sound eerily like a recommendation to become...Linux:

  • Windows should be able to be tailored to specific applications. Linux has been doing this for years, modular as it is. Linux reigns in embedded devices and scales up to the most demanding high-performance computing needs. Whatever the application, Linux has been tailored to fit it. Windows can't compete.

  • Better security. Because Windows tries to be all things to all people, it ends up being a security nightmare for one key demographic: The malevolent hacker ("cracker"). Applications shouldn't be given rights they don't need. Linux has this down pat. Windows? Gartner believes a significant overhaul is required.

  • Make migration to new versions easier. "Application packaging takes forever, says Silver....The fix is to reinstall everything and rebuild the PC." Not a problem on Linux.

  • Simplify licensing to focus on specific devices. Again, this is a problem born of Microsoft's success. It's not an issue that plagues Linux, which has licensing that encourages widespread, disparate use, and doesn't try to manacle its developers.

It was bound to happen, and now it has. Microsoft has simply become too big for its own good or, rather, for its customers' good. It's time for application developers to start over with an operating syste that encourages customization, personalization, and (for security) isolation.

Linux, in other words. Have you heard of it?

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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