Microsoft’s Windows OS has picked up a bit of a reputation in recent years. It concerns general instability, slowing down and becoming buggy. Although some of this is fear mongering etc, there is no doubt there is some truth in the matter.
So why is this? I would say almost every major bug or instability that exists in Windows is down to one thing, backwards compatibility.
If you think about it, what you can run under Windows is more than just impressive, it’s scary. I play a game about 10 years old every few days. Ok, it isn’t perfect, but most of that is down to multi-monitors. In fact, if I think about it, almost any old bit of software I try to run works. It isn’t always pretty, but it does get by with reasonable success.
All this compatibility comes at a price though, it take up space and introduces system instabilities. You end up with little patches of old code still kicking around and they all add up.
There is however a solution to this, virtualization. You have an emulated copy of older versions of Windows running, you integrate them into the new OS and then if an application needs the older version you have it run within there. That way you keep your new OS to itself and keep all those nasty old bits of code out of your shiny new OS, and you keep backwards compatibility for your old applications through virtualization.
Up until now this has just been something we wished Microsoft would do, however, the other day they made the first baby steps towards this solution. They announced that hardware dependant you could download a special virtual XP for Windows 7 to allow you to run old applications that are not compatible with Windows 7.
There solution is by no means perfect, it is the first step in a chain of that needs to be taken for a more stable and reliable Windows, it is however still that first step and this can only be a good thing.