By the end of this year, there will be 7 somewhat incompatible versions of Windows. In addition to the current four x86 vendors there will many more, among which Imes, CPU Tech, Metaflow, Rise, Transmeta ( ? ), and Exponential (??). While new hardware ages computers before they are sold, M$'s bloatware obsoletes them within a year. To compensate, consumers are turning to cheap "disposable" computers. But this trend driven by Microsoft's feature-adding strategy, risks back-firing. As component cost is driven down, and specialised vendors disappear, more application specific devices will emerge. Just like Cyrix's MediaGX, they will be geared towards providing the maximum bang for the buck in a specific environment. This will slowly push the single-OS-for-all paradigm to the side. Indeed, as hardware cost goes down, the direct and indirect price of using Microsoft increases: Windows/Office costs money, it also costs a very powerful environment: memory, harddrive, etc. And if computers are application specific, the choice of an OS becomes irrelevant, and each new feature is clearly costed.
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