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New peeks at a post-Windows future

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A curious leak from Microsoft offered a glimpse of life without Windows.

Software Development Times claims to have peeked at internal Microsoft documents about Midori, a prototype operating system that could one day replace Windows. This is not the media’s first glance at Midori, but these fresh rumors have analysts again imagining a future of “cloud computing.”

For decades, Microsoft’s business model has relied on tethering each copy of its operating system to a single computer. The cost of the OS was hidden – rolled into the price of the PC – and there was no easy way of getting your system preferences, desktop layout, or the OS itself off that one machine.

This scheme worked wonders for Microsoft: “Eighty percent of Windows sales are made when a new PC is sold,” a Gartner analyst told the BBC.

But as web browsers grow more powerful, the importance of an operating system deflates. Facebook doesn’t care if you use a Mac or PC – or a cellphone for that matter. Nor does Google Docs, nor Photoshop Express, nor many of the websites that are increasingly acting like applications. So if browsers are the new operating system, where does that leave Windows?

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