The death spiral of the WIMPs of our Time

Wimp Back in 1989 give or take a year or so, there were two competing DOS-based graphical operating systems and neither one of them was Windows. They were WIMPs, which was the common name for what was eventually called a GUI and is now not called anything by anyone except an ordinary somewhat painful part of life on the Internet.

The first DOS WIMP (windows, icon, menu, pointing device) was GEM, from Digital Research. There were earlier CP/M versions too. Don't go ballistic on me. The second was GEOworks (aka GEOS), a superior solution to me back then, but it had almost no applications on it, while GEM had the all important Ventura Publisher.

Maybe they all saw it coming, but only one DOS-based WIMP actually won that war. Soon after it was released, it amassed a massive following, was pre-installed perhaps coercively on every PC, and created a gigantic industry dedicated to bug fixing and virus checking. I think there was even a cottage compression industry that took off because it was so bloated even then.

We all loved it. We were that myopic. It was Windows. The biggest WIMP of all time.

The early WIMPs were battling for computing supremacy. One of them was sued by Apple and lost because it was pretty much a direct copy of it. They never recovered, although the company is still kicking around. The other was so demolished by the competition that it became the user interface of choice for AOL, a bizarre but practical decision back then, since it supported the booting off a CD, billions of which were distributed and are now buried half a mile deep in America's offline landfills.

There is a parallel battle happening now. A battle that had been over before it began. It's hardware and software versus stuff that looks like hardware and software. Meanwhile, cloud computing has already won.

CloudBlog interviewed Frank Gens, the Chief Analyst for IDC, the largest analyst firm on the planet. It is larger than Gartner, larger than Forrester, and Frank runs research. What is Gens focused on? For the last three years, it's been all cloud.

In this interview, Gens points out that cloud has become so part of our vernacular so fast that the very things that were once selling points have been superceded by new points that are more pragmatic to CIOs:

  • Time to benefit
  • Speed of deployment
  • The scale of deployments
  • The ability to attract developers (the best developers are developing on the cloud)
  • Mobile

Gens points out that mobile - which he views at an endpoint of the user experience - is becoming a cloud enabler at the same time that cloud is boosting the deployments of mobile. That's at about the seven minute mark.

Gens articulately deconstructs any notion that the old model is a thriving entity. It is the WIMP of our time. With IT spending somewhat flat, cloud spending according to IDC is skyrocketing. And while spend is just one factor in determining momentum, it is clear. Cloud is the future, but it is also the present.