Ken’s question made me think about Vista’s impact. Virtually all Microsoft’s products depend on the win32 API, so I wonder how much of change can Vista make? In other words, if Vista breaks win32 API calls, the cascading effects it has on other products like SQL Server, Exchange, BizTalk, Office, etc., would be tremendous. It may not come down to rewrite everything, but suffice it to say that the changes and additional development work and QA regression testing effort will be significant. So is it safe to say that Vista would be an evolutionary process of Windows, not a revoluntionary change that some people are led to believe? It will be interesting to see what unfolds, as far as Vista’s impact on server applications is concerned.
To extend the thinking a little further, once the foundation is set, the rest of stuff has to build on top of it and you are limited in ways to innovate and extend your stuff. Minor modification on the framework can be done but it is going to be costly. I guess that kind of explains why AJAX and Web 2.0 is all the rage recently. The idea is that you will do most of stuff through a web interface, no custom installation and setup is needed on your workstation. Google is a pioneer in this arena. The famous AJAX/Web 2.0 products are Gmail, Google Maps. Yahoo is not too far behind. Flickr and Yahoo Mail beta are good examples.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of the recent alliance between Sun and Google. If Google can deliver OpenOffice, a competitor of Microsoft Office Suite, through a web interface, much like how it does with GMail and Google Maps, that will give Microsoft Office Suite a run for its money.
A couple of years ago, Sun’s CEO Scott McNealy mentioned that “Network is the computer”; all we need is a dumb terminal to access it. I don’t necessarily think the terminal will be dumb, because now we do need it for local storage, text editing, some file processing, especially media files like music, image, and video. But hey, I cannot pretict the future. Maybe the dumb terminal 10 years from now is 10 times smarter than the ones we have today.