Back in August 2006, long before the general availability of Windows Vista, in fact even before the RTM date of the operating system, analyst firm Gartner put forward the idea that Vista would be the last
of its kind. Microsoft denied the possibility that Windows Vista will be the last big Windows operating system from Microsoft and affirmed its commitment continues delivering titles in the Windows platform. When asked to comment on the vision of Vista being the last big Microsoft Windows client, CEO Steve Ballmer stated that: "People like to write that; I don't know why. Nothing we've said should cause people to think that way. There will be a Vista. There will be a Vista plus one. There will be a Vista plus two, plus three."
Still Microsoft did fill in mid December 2007 a patent describing the "system and method for delivery of a modular operating system"
with the US Patent and trademark office. This would mean not only the possibility of a Windows platform composed of a nucleus kernel and various optional components, but also a system for a subscription-based operating system. "Vista will be the last major release of Windows in its current form. User demands, Microsoft's business needs and technology changes will move future versions toward a more modular architecture. The trend of bundling even more functionality is set to reverse. The current, integrated architecture of Microsoft Windows is unsustainable - for enterprises and for Microsoft," stated Gartner analysts Brian Gammage, Michael A. Silver and David Mitchell Smith.
But in the context that indeed modular operating systems will be the future of the Windows platform, how will this impact Apple? Will the Cupertino-based company continue to deliver big builds of Mac OS X? Or will it also shift to the much more flexible and virtualization based modular operating system strategy?