Paradigm paralysis

Are the two pillars crumbling?

Chris Mellor

Simple and clean it ain't no more. I'm writing this on a Windows/Intel PC. You're reading it, most probably on a Windows/Intel PC. But both Intel and Microsoft have got fat, gross even, and complacent. They take us for granted.

Intel, in its quest to chase AMD is making multi-core chips that require applications to be parallelised to take advantage of them. Compilers can't parallelise code. It has to be written to have parts execute in parallel. According to Intel's boss, Pat Gelsinger: "A couple of years ago, I had a discussion with Bill Gates (about the multi-core products)," Gelsinger said. "He was just in disbelief. He said, 'We can't write software to keep up with that.'"

He is right, isn't he? The PC hardware world suddenly doesn't look so clean anymore. It's not X86 rules, ok, anymore. It is AMD and Intel and multi-core and 32-bit and 64-bit and how the heck do I know how to compare potential processor chips for my next PC?

On the Microsoft side Vista, the Windows XP replacement looks to be a nightmare. The minimum hardware specifications look to have been devised to help PC manufacturers sell a bucketload of kit and spark a mass PC upgrade frenzy. The Vista product has been designed to be available in a multiplicity of versions. And it's Microsoft so we just know version 1 will be buggy. Gartner and other analyst organisations must be licking their lips with glee at the thought of all those Vista should-we-or-shouldn't-we research report sales in prospect.

The thought of having a PC with a dual-core CPU and 2GB of RAM is just amazing. Why on earth do I need a Ferrari F430-level vehicle to execute Word, Excel, Quark and PhotoShop?

The beneficiaries of both Intel and Microsoft's clumsy, clumsy complacency and irritate-the-hell-out-of-your-customers marketing are going to be Apple and Google.

Apple still gets the simple-clean-elegant design concept. Look at the iPod. Google still gets the simple-clean software function idea. That's what characterises its search and its desktop.

In a year or so's time I could be using an iMac and Google WP and spreadsheet software, and I would be so glad in a way to do this. There must be s much latent dislike of Microsoft and Intel. At least Apple would mask out those two horrible suppliers. It would be great, so great, to see both Intel and Microsoft humbled by the market forces that they have ridden for so long.