Gartner claims Windows Vista will be the last version of Windows that exits in its current, monolithic form. Future versions of the operating system will likely migrate to a modular architecture tied together through hardware-supported virtualisation.
"The current, integrated architecture of Microsoft Windows is unsustainable - for enterprises and for Microsoft," wrote Gartner analysts Brian Gammage, Michael Silver and David Mitchell Smith.
The problem is that the operating system's increasing complexity is making it ever more difficult for enterprises to implement migrations, and impossible for Microsoft to release regular updates. This, in turn, stands in the way of Microsoft's efforts to push companies to subscription licensing.
The answer, according to Gartner, is virtualisation, which is built into newer chips from Intel and AMD, and has become mainstream for x86 servers through the efforts of VMware. "Once Windows includes virtualisation at its core, we expect OS development to change direction from integration to modularisation," the analysts wrote.