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Tue 16 Aug 2005 04:00 AM

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Windows Middle East electronic edition 16th August 2005

Since the announcement of ‘Windows Vista’ last month and its subsequent beta rollout, much has been made of the fact that this platform won’t include all the changes Microsoft first promised. But in terms of the company’s future on our desktops, Microsoft's slow progress in bringing such technologies on-board could save it (and keep Joe Blogs' head scratching to a minimum). Let me explain...

Slow and steady wins the race|~||~||~|Back when it was called Longhorn, you see, the next version of Windows promised all kinds of revamped bells and next-generation whistles, the biggest such feature arguably being its new storage subsystem, snappily code-named WinFS.

Microsoft had spotted the trend of users having much, much more content on their PCs than in the past you see (digital photographs, memory hungry home videos, MP3 downloads, that kind of thing). Thus it deduced – quite rightly I reckon – that the traditional method of storing content on desktop machines would need reworking.

However, with the best will in the world, Microsoft couldn’t get WinFS up to scratch on time, and so now it looks likely to be added to Vista after its official release (in the form of ‘service packs’, which you’ll probably be able to purchase on CD or download).

Why is this a good thing for Microsoft you might ask? Well, disregard your no-doubt overwhelming technical know-how for a minute (after all, if you’re reading this then you know about itp.net and Windows Middle East, so this is a fair assumption) and consider this: most Windows users – Mr. Joe Blogs, your next-door neighbour, my mum – are simply not that tech-savvy.

It’s been a decade since Mr. Gates’ first fully useable OS, Windows 95. Yet the general public (in developed and developing regions at least) is only now just about able to add an attachment to an e-mail and identify any file outside of My Documents. Okay, yes, I know, there are exceptions, but we’re still – in most cases – at roughly that level.

My point is this: the more similar Windows Vista, or Longhorn, or whatever it’s called, is to previous versions, then the easier Microsoft will find it to retain its whopping 90-odd per cent market share of the desktop OS market. If half the Windows users out there just couldn’t get their heads around Vista, productivity would slump, employers would think “Hang on a minute!” and maybe Apple would finally decide to turn Mac OS X into a kick-butt Windows killer.

In terms of how it’s looking right now though, techies mightn’t like it - and industry types might barely stifle their yawns - but the bods out there in normal land will be grateful for Windows being a little more of – as a certain US politician might put it – a “known unknown”. Therefore they’ll keep improving their knowledge (and for us, well, our parents will ask us less inane questions, hurrah to that!).

A quick PS: if you've not already logged onto www.itp.net/windowsawards to vote for who should win what at our forthcoming September 21 gala event, be sure to do so.

There are three great prizes to be won, plus the chance to reward your favourite firms for their fine products and support. Don't miss out!

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