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Analysis: What would happen if Microsoft died?

Take a walk in a world without Windows

Ever wondered about what PCs and technology as a whole would be like if Microsoft's Windows didn't exist? We have. Here's our vision of a life without Windows.

Client applications: Kiss consistency good-bye

The client application landscape will be almost unrecognisable in a post-Microsoft world.

The deprecation of the legacy Windows API, coupled with the move to an entirely web-based delivery model, will open the floodgates of innovation - and create massive headaches for support personnel, who must now contend with the rich variety of UI designs and implementations that define the web application experience.

Basically, you can kiss consistency good-bye.

With developers free to create their own interface primitives, many arbitrary decisions will worm their way into the larger UI consciousness.

Steps to complete even basic tasks - for example, manipulating and formatting lists of data - will vary widely among implementations.

And while common web metaphors (hyperlinks, form fields) will continue to function as expected, more exotic constructs - like the webified version of a tools palette - will take on increasingly diverse modes of interaction.

You'll still click on things (or, more likely, touch them on screen with a finger or stylus), but the resulting actions will be anything but predictable.

Cross-application integration will be another sore spot.

With OLE/COM/VBA out of the picture, the job of linking data between disparate applications will fall to a mixture of JavaScript and various cloud-hosted APIs and resources.

In some cases - most notably, suites of applications from a single vendor - this integration will occur seamlessly on the back end.

However, without a robust, widely adopted standard for data exchange, such integration will be difficult to achieve between the various vendor-specific silos that will make up the future cloud computing fabric.

One bright spot in this post-Microsoft client application future will be the elimination of the traditional software distribution model.

No longer will IT shops have to track and manage a huge library of installed, stand-alone applications.

With everything streaming from the cloud, the days of corrupted MSI packages and nasty DLL-hell scenarios will become a distant memory.

The flip side of this equation is that the capability of working 'offline' will also become a thing of the past.

Your entire application infrastructure will be wholly dependent on uninterrupted connectivity to the cloud, making the internet itself your new single point of failure.

Bottom line: Expect increased support and training costs as users struggle to master common functions across disparate applications.

You may also want to update your disaster planning to include the pre-apocalyptic nightmare scenario where a backhoe operator takes out your now cloud-dependent IT infrastructure with an errant swing of his mighty shovel.

NEXT PAGE: Developer tools: Bloody purges and API turf wars will shape the new standards

  1. We look at what'll happen to tech if Microsoft dies
  2. Client applications: kiss consistency good-bye
  3. Developer tools: Bloody purges and API turf wars will shape the new standards
  4. Hardware ecosystem: Chaos until a new overlord rises
  5. Abandon all hope?

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