Today's news reports that Microsoft has set the release date for Longhorn in the second half of 2006, with a more modest collection of features relative to its initial announcement. I've yet to install Windows XP SP2 as I'm waiting for a few more pioneers to blaze the trail, letting them fall into the dark shadows first.
It may be the case, however, that I'll never bother installing SP2. I've decided to make the move to a Microsoft-free computing environment, having tired of the time I spend on the care and feeding of XP as compared to my relatively worry-free network of Linux appliances and Macs. My latest acquisition is a 17" Apple Powerbook powered by the IBM G4 processor which I'll use to replace my XP laptop and an older G4 tower. In addition to a breathtakingly beautiful form factor, this machine has every feature I need, from DVD-R to Airport and Bluetooth connections. More importantly, there's no essential application I need that doesn't run on this platform. In this manner, I'll avoid the Microsoft operating system tax, although I will break down and install the Microsoft Office suite (which actually is nicer on the Mac than it is on XP). Eclipse runs quite handily on the Mac already, thank you: I've been developing beans with it for over a year now.
Is it therefore curious for me, an IBMer, to be carrying around a non-IBM laptop? There's no doubt that IBM makes some wonderful personal computing devices (and I'm not quite to the point where I need a zSeries machine), but to paraphase James Carville, "it's the software, stupid." In short, hardware comes and goes - and I'm very happy that dedicated hardware engineers keep coming up with better machines - but software lingers forever. Indeed, pretty much the only way to get rid of old software is to kill it. I've had data and applications in my modest environment that have persisted for almost two decades, but during that time I've blown through a number of generations of machines, each faster and with more capacity than the previous. When Longhorn comes out in a few years, I might take another look, but in the meantime, I have some real work to do and would rather not be distracted by the whinings of a needy operating system that seems to come down with a cold every time I take it out into the world.