Breaking the Operating System Deployment Cycle

    Photo by tanvach

Microsoft’s recent confirmation that Internet Explorer 9 won’t be available on XP gives one more reason to finally move up to Windows 7. At the same time it highlights the interesting position that many people and companies are in. The missteps of Vista (real or imagined) following the long development cycle have gotten many very comfortable with XP and opposed to upgrading. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, as it were. I can certainly understand this view. It used to be that finishing a migration to a new OS entailed a turn around to immediately planning the next one. Getting out of that habit was nice, and a couple of years where the next migration kept getting pushed off gave us some breathing room that is difficult to give up.

We all know that the world keeps moving too fast to let us stay safely ensconced in one OS forever, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Perhaps one day OS updates will trickle out slowly and continuously allowing us to move from an XP to a 7 over the course of a few years without even thinking about it. From an OS vendor’s standpoint such a move would require something more like a subscription model, but consumers have been reluctant to go that direction. One advantage of the model is that it could flatten out the upgrade cycle, with migrations being more like today’s service packs. Microsoft, and other OS vendors for that matter, may have to move that direction anyway because they’re running out of new things to put into an upgrade that warrants the pain and cost of a massive migration. Microsoft may have inadvertently demonstrated this with XP lasting so long and users realizing that the OS is becoming a commodity.

If XP lasts 10 years, how long will Windows 7 last? What could be following on that compelling enough to make the next upgrade? I think users are going to be wary of moving again now that we’ve seen it’s not as necessary as we thought. 

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