Monday, August 30, 2004

Release Early and Often

At first I didn't want to say anything about the disclosure that Longhorn would no longer include the much-hyped WinFS, if only to avoid the appearance of gloating, but this article pushed me to change my mind.

Steve Jobs was wrong: Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” won’t be Longhorn after all.

Jobs and Co. tweaked Microsoft’s collective nose with this brassy assertion back at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference. During that Mac developer lovefest, Apple insisted that its next big cat (due in the first half of 2005) will deliver most of the features promised for the beefy Windows upgrade (slated for 2006). Longhorn is cowpathing, Apple maintained, and Tiger will take a chunk out of its hide.

Now that boast turns out to be inaccurate: It was too conservative.

Thanks to the intrepid journalism of Mary Jo Foley and Darryl Taft, we learn that Microsoft has put its big bovine on a radical reducing plan in order to make that 2006 deadline. Prime cuts carved out of the OS include the pivotal Windows File System and Avalon presentation technology.

"Longhorn is going to stop being a whole new thing and more of an XP with a lot of good new stuff," one unnamed developer told our intrepid Windows watchers.

Meanwhile, back here on the Mac OS X side of the tracks, Tiger development proceeds apace. In fact, the buzz is that the impressive feature set previewed at WWDC represents about half the loaf, and that Apple will unveil plenty more by the time Mac OS X 10.4 arrives. (I’m still holding out hope for my speculation that significant system-level Windows emulation will be one of those features.)
This is as complete a vindication of my conviction that Apple's incremental approach was to be preferred as I am ever likely to see. What is it with Microsoft and the need to do "Big Bang" releases anyway? Haven't they ever heard the saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?"

With the announcement that WinFS will no longer be part of Longhorn, and that Avalon and Indigo will be backported to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, I see no compelling reasons left for anyone to even consider upgrading to the new operating system whenever ite ends up being released.

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