Interestingly it still seems that people are expecting huge returns from Vista.. Sure XP is more stable than the abomination that was ME or 9x, but it is still plagued by trojans, adware and virii. It is very likely that by the time Longhorn err I mean Vista is launched 1st Qtr '07, there will be yet another service pack for XP. Wasn't there six service packs for NT?
Perhaps the funniest aspect of this discussion is the thought that Open Source and Web2.0 applications must take advantage of the tardiness of the upcoming M$ release. I think not.
Here is why.. People seem to think marketing campaigns are indicative tremendous activity and intelligent design. Absolutely a farce. The Redmond wooly mammoth and Apple have always used slick campaigns to paint a picture, and the results have not always been favorable.
In fact, were in not for the iPOD, not many people would be talking about Apple. Secondly, there is much activity taking place in the F/OSS community. Virtualization seems to be the word of the day, and you'll find that Xen is now part of the Fedora distribution. With all of the talk of BootCamp, I fully expect that you'll eventually find OSX mainly running on commodity x86 or x86_64 hardware, side-by-side with Linux. The thought of this occurrence, has pushed M$ to bundle support for virtualization in its next OS release. When has Redmond offered anything free? (BTW: VmWare is also giving away its virtual machine)
Let's take a look at the Mozilla project.. Yeah I know to the average user it's just a browser. However, everyone knows that browser wars are real, just ask Mark Andresson. Besides, with the advent of advent of Web2.0, Firefox and assorted mashups(ie Google, Greasemonkey, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Technorati, etc) are changing the entire end-user experience.
Well, back to Mozilla Project.. Essentially a community driven effort and total rewrite of the Netscape Navigator codebase, that has produced a very solid browser. Perhaps the most important aspect of the effort is that it forced M$ to copy err I mean innovate and put some cycles behind that trojan catcher called IE. I'm clear that Redmond would not have invested any time or effort into fixing IE, were it not for the Mozilla project. Please challenge me on this one. I dare ya ;)
FWIW, I understand that IE 7.0 browser is pseudo redux of Firefox 1.0. It figures.
One last tidbit. Regarding desktop search.. This particular fight is going to be fierce. I've messed around with Google Desktop, and I've said some good and critical stuff about Google. I still believe that they are largely benevolent and 'Do No Evil'. However, the sheer analytics that these guys are amassing for advertising is startling. More on this later.
Desktop indexing is already happening in the Open Source space. The Beagle project is moving about pretty smartly, and is available in most of the commercial Linux distros (mine not included -sniff).
I like the fact they figured out how to reduce the paging that Google indexing undergoes when it re-indexes your hard disk. Most of Beagle's heavy lifting takes place in the background and is transparent to the user. So, I have no idea how well Redmond's desktop search offering will perform. I suppose that I could troll Channel 9 for some previews. However, I compare that to going to an autoshow. Perhaps 80% of the stuff you see on the showroom floor at Cobo or Jacob Javits never makes it to the market, as it isn't cost effective. I would imagine it's even more intense in software features.
Yes, there is a great deal of work going on in the shadows, you don't need a marketing campaign to understand the value. All you have to do is peep the blogosphere and _use_ the applications and see for yourself.