Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

While the hardware integrates, the software decouples

In my last post I spoke of the trend toward hardware integration. What's interesting is that the opposite is happening in software. Proof of that is my PC. I have a Wintel computer that looks and behaves very much like an Apple OS X machine. By using various skinning and modding applications I have transformed the Microsoft Windows interface into fair approximation of OS X down to the Finder and cool toolbar at the bottom. The last of the great tests of software uniqueness - look and feel - has been swept away.

Why is this possible? Because software has been pulled apart into components, even operating system software. The GUI is dissassociated from the applications frameworks, which is further decoupled from the device interfaces and hardware. What began in the 1980s with the first PC is now reaching its logical conclusion - complete seperation of software functions. In the Windows world, we have a very mutable GUI, sitting atop frameworks such as .Net or JSEE, on top of the core Windows XP OS which, in turn, is seperated from hardware through devices drivers and the HAL. Everything is abstracted and, hence, changable and extensible.

This is very good indeed. We as consumers of computing products can now choose the best underlying OS for our needs, with the type of framework that fits or applications, and the GUI that works best for us. These can be put into different types of devices that suit our needs for performance, size, and features.

Of course, this tends to strip away many of the advantages touted by manufacturers of operating systems. I won't buy an Apple based on the GUI when I can have that GUI on the platform of my choice. If I can choose a Windows application layer (like Mono which is an open source .Net implementaion) for my Linux box then I can have my favorite applications on any platform I choose. I don't need to choose Wintel.

For users of computer technology (and proponents of open source applications) this will bring more choices at lower cost. Good for us. Now, if vendors can only find a way to make money in that environment...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it weird how one person hate microsoft but love linux?I mean it seem to me it so emtional the hate,I ahve tried firefox and I dislike that my favorite places is gone.So back I am with bill gate :) mac operating stsem