Future versions of Windows will have to be "fundamentally different" in order to take advantage of multicore processors, according to Ty Carlson of Microsoft. "You're going to see in excess of 8, 16, 64 and beyond processors on your client computer," said Carlson, director of technical strategy at Microsoft, during a panel discussion at the Future in Review conference. Windows Vista, on the other hand, is "designed to run on 1, 2, maybe 4 processors," he said, referring to the fact that quad-core processors are now available from Intel and are on the way from Advanced Micro Devices.

The problem, as has been noted on many occasions, is that loads of PC applications were programmed with serial processing in mind, meaning that the performance of those applications increased as a chip's clock speed increased. That's not how it works anymore. The chip industy has decided that multiple cores are the best way to keep increasing performance, and that means applications now have to be designed with parallel processing in mind.