Add to Win8: Ability to tell when wheels come off, not just when tires are fully inflated.

Even Win7's extensive self-help tools report everything is fine when it's not


According to all the press coverage about Windows 8 – nearly all of which are based on information directly from Microsoft and from analysts or users briefed by Microsoft, none of whom have had the chance to evaluate any of it outside the rose-colored-glasses Zone of Planet Windows – Microsoft's next operating system will be the biggest improvement yet in personal computing.

The stuff I wrote about it has the same problems. I have a copy of Win8, but haven't installed or played with it – which would have given me more than a theoretical idea of how it's supposed to work, though that may or may not make my prediction that Windows will split within five to 10 years into what are essentially two separate products – one to run the computer and one to hold all the software, data, connection points, security and all the other stuff that's relevant to the digital portion of an end user's existence.

That's not even that bold a prediction. Microsoft's been moving in that direction for a long time, as has Citrix, which is one of the few traditional partners still joined at the hip with Microsoft. VMware's whole desktop and mobile virtualization strategy is based on making Windows irrelevant (now Microsoft's is the opposite) – leaving it to run the hardware, essentially, while VMware's virtual client software becomes the "Windows PC" of the totally-virtualized-IT era.

I might have been less optimistic about Microsoft's chances (or more) if I'd been able to play with the beta for Windows 8.

Microsoft makes Windows errors look less threatening

I didn't get the chance because when something major is broken about the way one Windows component or other Microsoft software module talks to another, and it was breaking apps on my computer without admitting what was happening.

At its base, the problem was that Windows' ability to understand that two pieces of itself aren't communicating is, itself, broken.

It even redesigned the BSOD to look less threatening. The way death should.

In this case it manifested as constant crashes of my Outlook 2007 client for reasons that the Event Viewer and various other logs described as having shut down unexpectedly, but carried an error number and ID that, when I looked it up on TechNet, and half the other Windows self-help sites on the 'net, turned out to mean that the application had unexpectedly shut down.

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