The End of Win32

An article on ZDNet discusses impending changes in Microsoft Windows products.

In order for the Windows brand and Microsoft’s software business to live, Windows — as it exists today — must die.

The dying part refers to Win32, the API for Windows applications that has been around since the introduction of Windows 95.

The new version of Windows, Windows 10 S, will dump Win32 compatibility. The new Windows API, Universal Windows Platform (UWP), will be the only supported API in that OS.

As ZDNet notes, Win32 compatibility comes with a price: vulnerability to attacks. Getting rid of Win32 reduces the risk of malware and virus contamination.

It also ends compatibility with decades of software targeting the Win32 platform. I have a largish CD/DVD cabinet full of Win32-based software. I have particular software, like MATLAB, that costs a lot of $$$. And none of that will run in Windows 10 S.

As a step for the masses, yes, ZDNet is likely right that this is an appropriate step for Microsoft.

As a user of specialized software written for Win32, this is a step that is likely to push me further toward Linux and Mac OS adoption. I can run a number of my Win32 packages using Wine, or even setting up a Windows with Win32 VirtualBox VM. I already run several machines with Linux, and have an elderly MacBook Pro. My most-used personal laptop is already dual-boot, with Windows 10 and Lubuntu. I’ve mostly used Windows because I’ve long had the most investment in applications for Windows. If that hook goes away, so does my “loyalty” to that platform. If I am expected to shell out money all over again to regain functionality I already have, I’ll certainly be trying alternatives to that first.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

One thought on “The End of Win32

  • 2017/05/10 at 8:34 am

    The ReactOS Project to build a free, open source Windows NT/XP-like operating system may have new relevance. I thought they had missed their window of opportunity when they failed to have anything remotely solid ready when Windows XP reached end-of-life. Now, though, they may have another window of opportunity, if they can deliver on a generally useful platform for legacy Win32 applications. It is still in alpha, and I haven’t checked it out in VM form lately, but it may bear monitoring.

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