Does Grandma Need Longhorn?

Ok, I’ve been following Longhorn pretty closely, and I’m excited. I think that the new features are going to bring some pretty awesome capability to the desktop. I’m wondering if it’s really going to mean much when it comes to the overall computer market.

Everything I’ve read about Longhorn so far makes me think that it’s going to be a great platform for developers, but in order for it to be truly useful to those developers, it needs to be spread to the masses.

On one hand, the “rich experience” that can be built under Longhorn may draw in consumers. On the other hand, I know many folks who still use Office 95 because “it’s good enough”, and who run their Windows 95 boxes behind a firewall, with current AV, and that’s “good enough” too.

So that’s my question: what is going to make Longhorn a compelling upgrade for the masses? Or is it just going to be a slow process of adoption through attrition? Could you convince your Grandma that she needs Longhorn? How would you explain the benefits to her? How about the CIO of a 10,000-workstation company? Can the same platform really serve these two markets well?

If grandma’s computer usage breakdown is: 25% reading / writing email, 50% browsing the web (news, hobbies, vacation planning, etc.) and 25% working on a novel, what is the benefit of Longhorn. I can _contrive_ examples, where the “vacation planning” task utilizes that advanced capabilities of Indigo, and the presentation capabilities of Avalon, but will Grandma really care? Does the improved experience make it worth the upgrade to Longhorn? What if she has to upgrade her computer to see the benefit, is it still worth it?

I think what it comes down to is that many people are already happy with their computing experience. Beyond that, they’ve gotten used to doing things a certain way. Even if the experience is better, if it requires relearning, there is going to be a huge impediment to adoption.

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