important point in analysing the history of operating systems is that
not always the best technology wins, and sometimes itís all about
being in the right place at the right time. Look at DOS. How did it
survive for so long, without ever really changing? We went through
six major versions, and each time we paid up and basically got the
same old software. But all of this changed with two major pieces of
software; Microsoft Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Windows
95. Microsoft Windows 3.0 brought a useable graphical user interface
which built itself on top of the horrible DOS. As long as DOS stayed
there, Windows 3.0 was never going to be anything more than a graphical
user interface. With Windows 95, Microsoft started from scratch
and built a solid kernel which could run several processes,
at a time, and also had a most amazing user interface. With Windows
95, computers could now be used by children, and non-computer specialists.
The days of remembering the command for printing (itís PRINT, by the
way) or for listing directories (itís DIR, in case you forgot, or
are too young to remember DOS) were replaced with user menus, and
graphical icons. So the star of the OS market must be Microsoft Windows,
in its 32-bit form, that is, Microsoft Windows 95/98, Windows NT/2000
. An honorable mention must go to UNIX, who has quietly fathered many
of the major networking protocols, without ever demanding payment
from the world. Without UNIX there would no TELNET and FTP,
no TCP and IP, and no SMTP (e-mail), and NFS (distributed
file systems ), and NIS (global logins), and, well, Iíd better
stop there, because I could fill ten pages with its achievements.
Oh, and itís got a proper kernel, and allows different graphical user
interfaces to be bolted on top of it (honest, Iím not getting at anyone
here, but, in Microsoft Windows, is it possible to split the kernel
from the graphical user interface, and run the kernel on its own?
Please send me an e-mail if you know.