Windows X

John Gruber has some interesting insights on the next-generation Windows OS, cleverly code-named "Windows 8."

I don't usually like making predictions, in writing, for all the world to see, but for some reason this morning I'm in the mood. Here are a few:
  • This will be the last Windows release with Steve Ballmer at the helm. The new product will be received by the tech press and the public with what can best be described as "mild curiousity." Most people, even by the time the product ships, will still fail to grasp what Gruber just pointed out on Introduction Day.
  • By the time Bill Gates regains control of Microsoft, development of Windows 9 will be so far underway that he will not be able to bring the process to a halt. There will be too many other opportunities and threats to deal with. 
  • Work on Windows X will begin in parallel, in a lab about twice the size of the one where Gates and Allen coded DOS. Gates will visit this lab daily, and will be obsessively engaged in the development process. This will re-kindle a passion in him that's been slowly dying for the past 30 years, and it will either cost him his marriage or Melinda's affection for Bill exceed anything either of them has seen before. 
  • In late 2013, we will start to hear about a revolutionary new Windows OS, built from the ground up on a completely different paradigm from every version that preceded it. The registry will be eliminated, among other things, and the OS will be as promising as anything Microsoft has ever produced. It will ship in mid-2015.
  • Meanwhile, as Apple continues to gain momentum (that's right, they're still just building up speed), Windows 8 will give every home user the last excuse they needed to finally switch to a Mac: it will be so fundamentally different from Win7 that they will feel like they're going to have to learn a new operating system entirely. And, as long as that's the case, why not just learn the Mac OS. I mean, they already have an iPhone and an iPad, right? Makes sense to get a Mac too. This is the logic that has already gotten a sizable chunk of the baby boomer cohort into the Mac universe. When combined with Windows 8, the rest of that generation and most of the subsequent ones will come cascading into Cupertino's control as well. (Over-wrought metaphor + alliteration = net zero gain).
  • Regardless of where oil prices go, AAPL will surpass XOM in market cap by Christmas 2012. Probably a quarter or two before that. I've talked to a lot of financial guys whose only argument against going long AAPL is, essentially, "it's gotta stop somewhere." Not that they're literally making this point, but it's as if they're looking at the big chart at the front of the boardroom and motioning to the top-right corner and pleading: "LOOK, gentlemen! This chart cuts off at $400/share! It's simply inconceivable that the price could go any higher!"

DISCLOSURE: if you're taking any of the above as financial advice, you need your head checked. I am a horrible investor with a solid track record of consistent losses and a couple of inexplicable yet sizable gains. So, while I've been long AAPL since about 2002, I do not recommend that you follow my lead. And even if I did, you'd be a fool to do so based on my opinion alone. Conversely, by not taking my advice, you are demonstrating yet again that GB readers are some of the wisest around.