For years, Microsoft and others have tried to hold the small and midsize business at bay by wrapping enterprise stuff in SMB marketing and pushing it down. In the meantime, these vendors have continued to evolve the software stack into a monstrous tower that now reaches into the clouds and requires a thousand times the CPU and storage to process the same data in the same amount of time—or slower—than 15 years ago.
I believe that all that top-heavy, needless complexity has finally come home to roost in the Microsoft mother ship.
The Vista developers are encountering the pain of having to contend with an impossibly vast knowledge set, represented by all the nooks and crannies of .Net, SQL Server, Office, Media Player, unpublished object models and APIs.
They must nail them down cold and still have the operating system meet the core requirements of being easy, cheap, pretty and reliable. Oh, and it needs to have compelling new features to make it desirable.
My guess is that the project is crumbling around the edges under the weight of the software stack it is trying to integrate.
For years, the drive to improve in this business was synonymous with the drive to simplify. Somewhere, that turned around 180 degrees, and everybody got even richer for it.
But 2006 has a decidedly familiar feel to it, and promising innovations like Web 2.0 just may mean the return of power to the little guys and the destruction of the ivory software tower.
The cover art on the March 6 issue was brilliant! Someone deserves a prize for realizing that the standard North American electrical outlet fits so well into Edvard Munchs painting "The Scream."