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Windows 8 technology shift: The coming end of Win32 apps

Jul 02, 20124 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSmall and Medium Business

Windows 7 is now the most used OS, but the coming Windows 8 will have upgrade changes and happier BSOD messages that overclockers will likely see. Gartner called Windows 8 a 'technology shift,' instead of an upgrade, which will usher in the 'beginning of the end of Win32 applications on the desktop.'

Windows 7 is finally a more popular operating system than XP, according to a highly quoted StatCounter web analytics report. It claimed that half, 50.2%, of all computers connected to the Internet in June were running Windows 7. The Inquirer reported that not everyone agrees, such as Netmarketshare, whose stats show “Windows XP still accounts for 40% of the operating system market, with Windows 7 right on its tail with 39%.”

RELATED: Microsoft says you, yes you, are the reason it killed the Start menu

If security were the only factor, a Windows 8 upgrade would be a no-brainer

Meanwhile, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reported that users who do not have Windows 7 and wish to upgrade to the coming Windows 8 will lose out; Microsoft said that only PCs running Windows 7 will be eligible “for a full upgrade to Windows 8, one that retains applications, data files, user accounts and Windows settings.” Furthermore, under “What won’t work,” Foley reported, Microsoft is also “not allowing users interested in doing a cross-architecture — i.e., 32-bit to 64-bit — install to do so. Whether running Vista or Windows 7, these users won’t be able to keep their existing Windows settings, personal files and applications or data. They won’t be allowed to upgrade this way, period.”

In other Windows news, as Andy Patrizio pointed out, “Microsoft says you, yes you, are the reason it killed the Start menu.” However, Windows wouldn’t be Windows without the dreaded Blue Screen of Death and if you overclock then let’s hope you are a BSOD fan. The Register dug up a Microsoft Research report from April 2011 and reported, “it seems you could be seeing more of the Windows 8 BSOD if you buy a PC from an OEM who’s fiddled with the chip to make it go that little bit faster. Also, beware the temptation to buy a PC from an unrecognized PC maker.”

Microsoft’s “Empirical Analysis of Hardware Failures on a Million Consumer PCs” was based on Window’s little Error Reporting spy and is “the first large-scale analysis of hardware failure rates.” Among other things concluded from this research [PDF]:

CPU speed matters. Even minor overclocking significantly degrades reliability, and minor underclocking improves reliability. Even absent overclocking, faster CPUs become faulty more rapidly than slower CPUs.

Configuration matters. Brand name desktop machines are more reliable than white box desktops, and brand name laptops are more reliable than brand name desktops. Machines with more DRAM suffer more one-bit and CPU errors, but fewer disk failures.

If you are an overclocker and anticipate seeing BSOD on Windows 8, the message will try to empathize with you by showing a frowny text face 🙁 and telling you to reboot. Windows 8 is “more touchy-feely,” according to the The Reg, since Microsoft re-engineered the dreaded “BSOD for the era of Twitter and texting – unhappy smilies and chirpy one-liners.”

A new Gartner report on Windows 8 stated, “Windows 8 Changes Windows as We Know It” and “is the start of Microsoft’s effort to respond to market demands and competitors as it provides a common interface and programming API set from phones to servers.” It will have “far-reaching implications” for enterprise and is the “beginning of the end of Win32 applications on the desktop.” Such legacy apps will eventually need to be run in the cloud or in virtualized environments.

Business Insurance quoted Steve Kleynhans, Vice President for client and mobile computing at Gartner, as saying, “Windows 8 is more than a major upgrade to Windows-it’s a technology shift. We don’t see technology shifts too often; the only other one Microsoft’s client OS has gone through was the move from DOS technology to Windows NT technology, which began in 1993 and took eight years, ending with the introduction of Windows XP in 2001.”

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.