back to article DWP CTO predicts the end of Windows

The Department for Work and Pensions' chief technology officer has said that the latest version of Microsoft Windows may be the last to be widely deployed. James Gardner said that he believes that Windows will no longer be as largely needed because there will be "fewer workloads" that require a "heavy desktop stack". "Today of …

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It's about Office

Until there's a full fat cloudy Excel and Office Windows will continue to dominate.

It's been the year of desktop Linux for every one of at least the last 10 years. Much as I love the penguin, I'm in the minority. Mobile devices are taking over in the consumer market but business still needs (or thinks it needs) spreadsheets and bloody Powerpoint presentations.

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N2

Hang on a mo

Powerpoint does have its uses... its a great cure for insomnia.

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Coat

yester me - yester you- yester browse

Arrive through the browser... Hmmm IE 6 anyone? This is coming from the same Dept that is guilty of running a hopelessly out of date browser well past any time that could be considered prudent.

I have huge reservations about my data being faffed around in a cloud - I expect it to be on a closed system away from identity thieves etc - thats not a new problem.. a former partner had a false claim made during 1983 at an office some 150 miles away.

Wireless networking to support outreach workers? Yeah sure... about the same time as our Market One exchange gets FTTH maybe...

So my question is... what has this guy been smoking?

Coat - it has the Governments hand in looking for more cash for yet another Taxpayer funded IT disaster that will assure them a handsome kickback/seat on the board

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@Da Weezil

"I have huge reservations about my data being faffed around in a cloud - I expect it to be on a closed system away from identity thieves etc - thats not a new problem.. a former partner had a false claim made during 1983 at an office some 150 miles away."

Indeed and that is putting it very mildly. We can just see it can't we? You have a company whose very existence is dependent upon their database etc and they are going to trust the entire shebang to someone else. I suppose one could call economic Darwinism in action. Any company that stupid deserves to lose their system, have it high-jacked and held for ransom and/or auctioned off to the highest bidder. The technology cannot fully guarantee the integrity of current structures!

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Linux

How Ironic..

When browsing to this article about the prediction that Windows will become no more, I got a full screen advert for Microsoft...

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Boffin

Why suffer from anti-social advertising?

Adblock - you know it makes sense!

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Why "suffer" from "anti-social" advertising?

Because it pays for your content, fuck head.

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Back to the mainframe and terminals then?

The PC was the answer to the dictatorial powers of the mainframe sysops. As an integrated part of an organization the Windows PC is a pretty poor compromise. There are ways round it but I expect most peoples Windows Updates are downloaded individually from Microsoft rather than from a service on the local server.

Microsoft have tweeked and patched windows all the way to Windows 7. I pretty much think you could write a new operating system easier than doing any more with Windows. It's nice to have local power but programs really need not be so massive that they actually have to be permanently installed on your computer. Why not have a simple bare bones system and download the code automatically as you use it. Certainly it could be cached or deposited locally.

What seems to go wrong with computers is the fantastic mess of spaggetti that the programs, operating system, drivers, services, updates, spyware and anti-spyware seem to make of an initially well set up computer.

I think many of us are already using our computers in a sort of bare bones hardware way. Wiping the hard drive every few months. Or maybe using virtual computing and creating a fresh virtual PC when required.

The thing we must be careful of is letting someone else look after our stuff. It is one thing for an organization to have a server and terminals but quite something else for your own computer to be a terminal of Google or Microsoft organizations.

Where's the evil Google logo?

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Anonymous Coward

"the fantastic mess of spaggetti that the programs, operating system, drivers,"

Not using Linux then !

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Horses for courses

Some applications being totally served by the Cloud/Big-Bad-Box somewhere and the client being fairly dumb/thin. e.g. Large computes (rendering etc).

Some being a fatter client (most likely consuming services and using some local grunt). Outlook etc

Some being full-client and using the network for nothing more than pushing raw data around. CAD apps, for example.

What exact mix each person (even within the same organisation) winds up with will depend on the job they are doing. The big failure would be to assume that one answer will work for all people in all situations.

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Boffin

Re: Back to the mainframe and terminals then?

"I think many of us are already using our computers in a sort of bare bones hardware way. Wiping the hard drive every few months."

This sums up what can only be described as the disease that is Windows computing: users being reduced to chants and incense in order to appease the gods/demons of crap/mal/spyware. What makes it even more sad is that people think that the above is "normal with computers" and thus all too readily welcome the iron fist of Steve Jobs and pals when presented as the only remedy for such torment.

The real remedy is to show Windows the trapdoor.

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Terminator

@ AC

Chants and incense? When are you going to join the twenty first century? For the modern and up-to-date technomagus only best quality black hens or, if we are talking BOD, a virgin (when available) will do.

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FAIL

Wow, another genius discovers the cloud

So he discovered google docs on his iPad and thinks he's solved all the puzzle's of IT strategy.

This post is such a typical opinion for people who make very senior level IT decisions that they have forgotten the fundamental reality, that IT is plumbing and plumbing depends on the technical details they have forgotten - systems, software architectures, services buitl into the software stack, availability of infrastructure...

OK, so: (1) it's been true for almost a decade that few workloads require that much of a desktop experience. The trouble is that the little they do require still IS a full desktop experience. That's why all thin client models are at best marginal. Will it change in 10 years? Maybe. But I still think for real work, locally installed software with local processing hardware will still be he reliable sensible choice.

(2) The ubiquitous WiFi stuff is nice, except it will never be 100% ubiquitous. While travelling, I find thousands of places where neither WiFi nor 3G reach. In 10 years these places will be fewer, but they will still exist, which means anyone depending solely on the cloud will SOL.

(3) We're finding ways to make wireless networks more secure all the time, but so do criminals find ways of hacking them. Let's not count them out, until they are out.

(4) Doing work is about more than having relevant information on hand. I can see a massive role for tablets, as information access devices, replacing mountains of paper (assuming that info can be digitized). I can't see tablets (I mean non-computing tablets) being much use to someone who needs to process the information. Quite a lot of people do that you know.

(5) As for MS and the value of the OS, let anyone who thinks it doesn't matter, try to do real work on a cloud based device without all the heavy OS integrated services. Try working on an iPad only to discover things like built-in network and file sharing protocol support matters, messaging stacks matter, file systems matter. And without them you are left with a fragmented nightmare of workarounds (what apple calls "apps"). Then suddenly Microsoft is your hero;-)

Fail because the guy forgot the fundamentals of what pays his salary.

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Happy

Means well...

"delivered via the network to clever thin client terminals"

When you use the word clever, in this context in a tech related discussion of this nature, your cachet plummets in my estimation!

My favourite was from two old ladies on a bus back in 2002, 'All these clever computers these days, you'd think they'd do something about the weather.'.

Ah, bless their little blue rinses!

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Anonymous Coward

Department of What's a Processor?

This is the DWP - most of their systems are server based anyway with audit trails (in theory) to make sure no-one's processing their own mum's benefits. If it wasn't for Excel they'd nearly all be using thin clients as it is.

However, this IS the DWP. Most of their systems don't work properly, most of the staff use a calculator to add up columns in those aforementioned Excel spreadsheets and being part of central government any changes will come in just in time for the systems to be obsolete and approximately £3 billion over-budget.

Within about 3 months of the new systems coming in they'll be declared horribly inefficient and a whole NEW round of systems and processes will have to be implemented. Back to fat clients again then.

Remember kids, incompetence is the watchword when it comes to IT and any government department you care to name.

... yeah, I know some poor unfortunates who work in the DWP and have to deal with the fallout from people like James Gardner. My missus is an IT goddess apparently because she knows what an icon is and how to use the SUM function in Excel.

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Alert

Maybe in his world, but not in everyone else's

The govt subtentacle where I work is currently forcing its payroll staff back onto IE6 in order to be able to roll out a "new" payroll system.

Draw your own conclusions.

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Joke

Don't Work Properly!

You made it look like that was not intentional......

It WAS intentional, wasn't it?

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WTF?

A who said what now ?

I had to go back and read that again, because at first I read it wrong and it looked like you were expecting me to take someone from DWP in the least seriously when talking about IT. Oh, wait ...

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FAIL

Mmm k.

Reading this, it's obvious the problem with government IT procurement isn't the technology - it's the people.

Someone with clue could probably make almost any technology work. Thin/fat server/client cloudy/desktopy - whatevs.

But if there's a nano-brainiac with the deep insight of a bath sponge in charge and the frontliners are failed Dalek wannabes on incapacity benefit - fuggedaboutit.

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I'm really confused here

"We're going to have the latest Office, the latest Windows, and all of it will be delivered via the network to clever thin client terminals or thin spec notebooks. Considering we're presently struggling along with XP, this will be a bit of a leap from where we are presently."

Let me get that straight - the latest MS Office (2010) and the latest MS Windows (7), on 'thin client' and 'thin spec notebooks'.

To actually run that software, those 'thin' machines will have much more RAM and faster processors than any of the machines he's currently 'struggling along with XP' on.

So how are they 'thin'? Does he mean that they don't have the massive graphics cards needed for gaming? Will there be no more massive LAN parties at the DWP?

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Anonymous Coward

Thin client

Nah,

The apps are run in a citrix session on a thin client, so the load will be on the servers in the data center. The savings are stunning. Two orders of magnitude cost saving per seat and three orders of magnitude reduction in incident ratio.

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FAIL

Thin clients might be relevant when...

...their TCO is a fraction of a palette of cheap Windows boxes. At present, they're a great many times more. Things look great until you realise you need either a wad of VMs or terminal servers to power them, the network infrastructure to make them usable, and the software licenses to run them on.

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Linux

Not running LInux then

""It takes that long for a desktop operating environment to get so long in the tooth that no matter what you do you can't keep it going any longer. And we'll keep it that long because the costs of getting a working desktop in the first place are so absurdly high that doing anything else is completely irresponsible,"

What he means, is it takes that long for Microsoft to launch the replacement, to issue the final service pack, to issue a number of security patches some of which appear designed to degrade your systems' performance, to cease all support, and finally for someone to "discover" a still-unfixed and now unfixable day-zero bug.

If it were open source you could keep it running for as long as you wanted to.

If the files it processed were all fully open standards then there really wouldn't be an issue about whether you used a decades-old desktop or the very latest one. It's only Microsoft that hardwires the file format to the processing program to the desktop O/S, for their own commercial gain and everyone else's pain.

(Not sure if it's relevant, but I recently booted Win 98 SE in a VM under Linux. Took all of two seconds to boot and was a vastly more responsive environment than Win 7 native on the same hardware.)

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Reality bites

"It's only Microsoft that hardwires the file format to the processing program to the desktop O/S, for their own commercial gain and everyone else's pain."

No. No it isn't. Shush.

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It'll arrive through the browser?

Knowing them, via IE6...

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Anonymous Coward

Sceptical about the cloud?

Relying on a 3rd party is only risky if they are less competent than your organisation. In the case of the DWP I think it is highly unlikely that any half way reputable cloud provider could be more inept than they are.

I had the misfortune to conduct a review of DWP's information security and the only thing they were good at was arse covering. Achieving nothing useful was fine as long as the staff were able to avoid being blamed for anything.

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Anonymous Coward

They let government employees speak? On public time?!

The waste! The waste! The waste!

They should just be finding ways to eliminate all government and make the poor suffer! What, they are already?

I am joking by the way.

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