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In the year that has passed since Microsoft released Windows Vista to business users, the operating system has gained a reputation in the channel as a bloated memory hog that many companies are avoiding like a trip to the dentist.
But Microsoft partners have a more positive opinion of Windows 7, the next generation of Windows that Microsoft expects to ship in the 2010 timeframe. That's because Windows 7 will be based on MinWin, a scaled down version of the Windows core that will also serve as the framework for Windows Server and Windows Media Center.
MinWin's source code base takes up about 25 megabytes on disk, compared to about 4 gigabytes for Vista. Solution providers see this as a sign that Microsoft has learned its lesson from trying to cram too much into the Windows OS, and some feel that Windows 7 will be a roaring success in the market.
"There has definitely been a huge amount of resistance in the market to Vista, but I think Microsoft has learned a lot from the experience," said Todd Swank, director of marketing for system builder and solution provider Nor-Tech, Burnsville, Minn. "I also think they realize they waited too long between the release of Windows XP and Vista."
Swank says it makes "a tremendous amount of sense" for Microsoft to offer a slimmer version of Windows because it'll help the vendor realize its goal of extending the OS into mobile devices and other platforms.
Dan Hogan, vice president and COO at DSR, an Elkridge Md.-based solution provider and Microsoft partner, says the logic behind MinWin is likely to make sense to businesses of all sizes.
"There is definitely a market for a stripped down version of Windows for people that don't want an operating system that requires lots of memory and drains notebook battery life," said Hogan.
Paul DeGroot of Directions on Microsoft, a Redmond, Wash.-based research firm, says Microsoft appears to be adopting a model very similar to the Linux approach.
"That doesn't mean Microsoft is going open source, but the two approaches to OS development have always contrasted sharply," said DeGroot. "Linux has this lean, mean, kernel, protected by Linus Torvalds, who guards it like a three-headed dog. But outside of that, it's literally a free-for-all."
"Microsoft has adopted a different approach, for good reasons. In Microsoft's case, adding more and more to the OS has been a smart business decision," DeGroot added.