Ted Leung on the air : So what about Longhorn? "I have to say that I am impressed by the vision for Longhorn. It's not going to get us the Knowledge Navigator (sorry Scoble). I'm impressed with Microsoft's willingness to make such a risky play. Rewriting a huge amount of system functionality with new APIs in managed code is fairly risky. But if they succeed, they are going to end up with an environment that will be pretty nice to program in, and there'll be some cool features in there. Once they get everything into managed code, people working in predominantly unmanaged environments are going to be hard pressed to keep up.
To me the real question isn't about Microsoft and Longhorn, it's about the alternative platforms, Linux and the Macintosh. The Macintosh is tough because Apple is basically saying "hey, just trust us to keep doing cool stuff". And they are doing cool stuff, there's a lot of nice stuff in Mac OS X. But let's be honest, most of this stuff is just NextStep dressed up a little bit nicer. We still have C/Objective-C/C++ at the core. We need more than that.
Linux is even worse off. Now I love Linux, but when I compare the Longhorn story with the Linux story, I get scared. Look at things like this. Operating system kernels are commodity software. The interesting stuff is moving up the food chain. I've written about this before, and Ray Ozzie discusses this in his eWeek interview. At least the Mac has NextStep/Cocoa sitting on top of FreeBSD. On Linux there's still a vacuum as far as I'm concerned. I'm not the only one who's concerned about this. Seth Nickell has expressed the concern well. And he's doing something about it. I hear Miguel talking about these issues all the time. Now I disagree with some of the things that are being done in Mono -- sticking to following Microsoft's lead, but overall, I think that what the Mono team is doing is one of the most important open source projects in the long term. But we need to do better here. We need to find a way to lead, not just follow. We're running out of things to copy."
(See post for links to references)