Baseline has a good article on the future of Windows, given the disasterously bad version that is Vista. This review starts off badly with Laura Dadio doing a George Bush advisor-like misdefining of the problem:

“If Vista were just a standalone operating system [OS], where you’re just playing with it on your desktop, it would be great. It has better security, it has more features, it has faster search engine and a nice GUI,” says Laura Didio, principal and analyst for Information Technology Intelligence Corp. “Now the problem is, when you start adding all of those features, it can be complex.”

Come on Laura, Vista can be complex” when Vista clearly has these strikes against it:
1)from once lowest cost OS to now the highest cost and a significant 20-35% of the cost of a system;
2)from once clear purchase decision, Vista is 6 confusing pricing and features “packages”;
3)from the OS that once had the most support for devices old and new to a device driver mess;
4)from the OS that once had the biggest set of apps running on it to now a “hope and a prayer”;
5)the OS that still requires rebooting after several hoursof heavy usage because of handle, memory and other resource leaks;
6)the OS that continues to have a permanent swapfile of 1-3GB and a registry that is a morass;
7)the very big performance gap in speed and memory requirements versus Linux and Mac;
8)the OS that still defines itself on its ability to run Microsoft Apps better than any other 3rd party application to the chagrin of developers, developers, developers.

But after this stumbling start, the article delineates the interoperability problem, the need to address the issues of Cloud Computing and the Windows role there, and most importantly the weakness of Windows on Mobile and other small devices that are becoming major computing platforms by Moores law and by consumers wanting things simpler, easier to use, and more adaptive to their needs. And of course Google with Android, Gears, and GWT is making things increasingly uncomfortable for Windows as is. During the current Wall Street Financial Fiasco, Microsofts stock has withstood the 30-50% downturn that most other stocks have suffered. But businesses – already standing pat with Windows XP Pro – may be having to rethink their willingness to absorb the Redmond premium tax for their OS of choice now that it has lost almost all of its original brand values. Cloud Computing, Mobiles, and AIR will give very competitive shops ways around the Redmond tax. And then business in general wont be able to afford the Redmond Monopoly tax and Ill-service.