Mark Minasi discusses cloud computing, Windows 7 and IT trends

When it comes to desktop virtualization, Microsoft is taking a great idea and killing it with complicated licensing, says Windows expert Mark Minasi in a Q&A.

Windows expert, speaker and author Mark Minasi always has a unique spin on IT trends. Here he shares his thoughts on the latest versions of Windows, discusses how software advancements have slowed to a crawl, and talks about the state of cloud computing and desktop virtualization. Minasi said that we're at a point where the big advancements have slowed down and that IT shops have fewer technological reasons to upgrade their Windows platforms.

Microsoft just released Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, and it really needed to come out with solid product following all of the bad press surrounding Vista. Has it?

Mark Minasi: I think differently. I actually liked Vista. ... People said Vista was too slow, but every new OS is too slow. It was designed to work on new hardware. People said the same thing about XP when it came out, but no one remembered that because it had been five years since a new operating system was released. And they complained there were no drivers; well, that is a problem with any new OS. They said it ran slow, but people don't remember that XP ran slow compared to Windows 98. And people complained about application compatibility, which is another new-OS issue. But Windows 7 has XP mode option to overcome the incompatibility issues.

More from Minasi

Cloud computing and desktop virtualization: A Q&A with Mark Minasi

Windows Vista deployment with Mark Minasi
Vista was a good OS if people gave it a chance, and I like Windows 7, which is really just Vista 1.3. I am not looking at Windows 7 from the "Is it pretty or not?" perspective, but from what is under the hood.

The changes from Windows Server 2003 to 2008 are minimal, but from [Windows Server] 2008 to [Windows Server 2008] R2, they are more significant.

But really, from 2001 to 2011, there is essentially no change compared to the changes that happened in the '80s and '90s. The market is not stupid; OSes always get better, but every advancement is only a quarter-mile advancement, compared to the full-mile advancements we used to see. For example, when Windows 95 came out after being in beta for nine months, there were people lined up outside of software stores at midnight, waiting to get their copy. That didn't happen with Windows 7.

Software has hit a plateau, and we are in a situation where people can just use Windows Server 2003 for the rest of their lives. There are fewer technological reasons to upgrade.

The problem Microsoft has now is, how will they get a regular shot of money? They put some cute stuff in R2, and when I get new toys, I am always happy. But from a more positive point of view though, comparing Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008R2, there are improvements; for example, the flexible password policy is better, and it does so many things smarter, such as power management.

So what will be the big trend for 2010? We're hearing a lot of buzz about desktop virtualization.

Minasi: If we solve the caching and licensing problems, VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] will be one of the best answers to really old problems. Just the idea that you won't lose all of your data if a meteor flies through the window and turns your PC into a pile of molten slag [would] let people sleep better at night.

Problem is, Microsoft is taking a great idea and killing it with complicated licensing. ... They want to suck you into the MDOP [Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack] vortex. Anything interesting they have purchased, like Mark Russinovich's company [Winternals], and now you can't get any of that stuff without MDOP. You have to rent it. Renting is the new software model. It's like leasing a car, which every economist knows is a bad idea.

Speaking of renting, everyone is talking about cloud computing. Do you think cloud services will start to take off soon?

Minasi: Cloud services will be like every other service:. Big companies just like to sell products to other big companies, and those products are designed for big companies, so cloud will be great for Fortune 500 companies.

But really, how does anyone know the cloud they are using is secure? For instance, these [cloud providers] have to maintain shareholder wealth, and maybe if they need to make some money they sell some names, the contract might not allow them to do that, but big companies do unethical things all the time. Look at Enron.

If you are in a situation where you need a generic service, then cloud makes sense, but you are giving up reliability and privacy. If you can live with that, cloud is for you. But if you need to be certain your stuff is secure, well...

Yes, I've heard concerns from IT folks, especially in government and healthcare, about information privacy. They don't want to let their information outside of the four walls of their data centers.

Minasi: Yeah. And when something breaks, it's like your cable company. They offer a service, and when something happens, you need to call them and deal with them.

It will just get to a point where people accept mediocrity though. It's like, do you remember phones with cords? The reception was crystal clear. Then came the first cordless phones, and the static was horrible, but over time, people accepted it. ... I think cloud will be one more thing that makes us hate computers. We will be driven down to accepting the minimal levels of service before we want to go out and buy guns.

Minasi will host informational classes on Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 this month and next. His new book, Mastering Windows Server 2008 R2, will be available in January 2010, and he is working on a book about Windows 7.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer.

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