Will Longhorn be compelling enough?

Longhorn logoMichael having read my post supporting Microsoft’s decision to back port the Pillars of longhorn is worried that Longhorn may not be compelling enough:

When I read articles like WinFS on XP, a VERY big deal! from Steve Richards in his blog (Adventures in home working), I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I agree with Steve that it is very cool that these features will be available on more platforms. It is possible to put too much pressure on a release by putting so much into it exclusively anyway, and features that are only on one OS are by their very nature limited in their appeal.

On the other hand, I worry about whether that will make the OS release less compelling when it becomes clear that many of the pillars in the original Longhorn Wave are no longer just for Longhorn. Understandably slow to go into more detail too soon about what the new defining pillars are this time, there is some hang time that pundits will write about the “fact” that apparently there are no pillars. Despite the fact that only morons and Microsoft haters (two very different groups in most cases) would usually choose to believe such rubbish, when only the headline-grabbing pundits are talking, there is no other message to believe. So the marketing risks are big…

Personally I don’t think it’s an issue of being compelling or not.  I think its an issue of protection of market share.  If Microsoft had continued along the Longhorn only road what would have happened:

  • Longhorn would be released with very few applications, even Microsoft applications,  available that made use of the Longhorn API, WinFX
  • Third party application vendors seeing a tiny market would continue to write Win32, or rather Java rather than WinFX applications
  • Corporates would ask themselves what value proposition Microsoft offered, because in my view Longorn and a WinFX version of Office are key to Microsoft’s “integrated innovation” value proposition
  • Failing to see the value proposition, no Longorn apps and a steep migration cost they would start looking favourably at Linux

That’s why I think Microsoft had no choice, but as it happens it’s a better decision for the rest of the world, because in the end all the rest of the world cares about is getting at its applications, safe guarding its data, integration and ease of use. 

As to what’s left to wow people about Longhorn? Michael probably knows a lot better than me, but most people want the basic stuff to be fixed,  ie the fundamentals:

  • Security
  • Manageability
  • Home user environment management
  • Collaboration
  • Web Identity Management
  • etc …

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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