The followers of technology are fully aware that computer chip giant Intel has a strategy for its processors, which they describe as Tick-Tock. In short, it is a biennial plan where in the Tick, the process size is taken down a notch, yielding faster processors which use less energy, and the Tock is the next part, where the architecture is changed, allowing for improvements in basic design. The idea is a brilliant one, as the design team can work on the architecture for a much longer period, and the team involved with shrinking the process has that much more time, yet there is constant, year-to-year innovation.

It’s like the very best Gantt chart you could come up with for microelectronics innovation.

Lately (and by that I mean yesterday and today), I have been doing much reading about the changes found in the leaks of the alpha code of Windows 8, including the rumors as well as the verified stuff, and thinking that perhaps Microsoft has actually learned something about itself, and in doing so, come across its own tick-tock strategy of sorts.

With Windows 7, not much was really changed under the skin, the basics are not identical to Vista, but they are much closer to Vista than to anything previous, and the largest changes were on the UI, making something that most everyone approached during the extended beta period seemed to like. That made the changes flow and the time table more fluid, and less worrisome for the clock watchers.

In the things which are leaking from the various sites, and the rumor mills where the early betas have been leaked, it is clear that less is changing with the UI and more with the underpinnings. Things already spoken of, like hybrid boot, are clearly aimed at the improvement of performance, and have nothing to do with looks.

The new task manager, from early appearances, is designed to be easier to use, but also make the average user that can read with understanding into more of a power user, having more fine control over the actions of the machine, without a great deal of study, or interest in Microsoft-speak. This can only be a good thing, and will also affect performance, and though the look is different, it is for effective use, and not style, that the look is changing.

Unfortunately, not all of the new underpinnings appear to be of the helpful variety. There appears to be a new part of the Windows system devoted to the installation being Genuine, and you just know that is not a good thing. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I say that as a victim of Windows Genuine Advantage and other system checks going completely wrong, when in fact my system was perfectly valid and authentic.

My worst problem was when I was working on my dual-core Phenom II machine that I was trying to turn into a triple or quad core machine. This was during the first week of operation, and also during the week of October 22, 2009. I had installed my Windows 7 Ultimate Steve Ballmer Signature 64 bit edition of the Microsoft operating system, and when the effort to unlock the third and fourth cores went awry, my system was telling me that my system was not genuine, putting up a lot of fuss while I worked to return things to normal.  I was fully expecting a visit from Mr. Ballmer and the thought police. If I, someone with lots of experience with WGA and Windows in general was having problems, imagine what Joe Average would have experienced.

With the move to an even more apparent effort at keeping the system under the Microsoft thumb, it remains to be seen how the Genuine Center may foul the otherwise smooth waters of Windows 8.

In all, it really does look as though Microsoft, unable to capably cope with the schedule that was once deemed appropriate – every 3 years a major release – has opted to change the guts every other update cycle, while changing the cosmetics every other alternating cycle, allowing both the core and GUI teams to work at a pace which is more comfortable, and allowing Microsoft to have the every 3 year influx of dollars it wishes to enjoy.