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Slow Moving Giant
Operating systems

Economist Paul Krugman, writing his opinion column, stated that Microsoft hit its peak in market dominance at the turn of the century, 2000. Microsoft was notably not the best operating system, lots of flaws. Apple computers were more solid: they cost more but didn't suffer the failings of the Microsoft operating system. So why did so many of us buy the MS OS?

We bought them because they were cheaper and because software was far more plentiful for the Microsoft operating system and likewise cheaper—or free. You could get involved in writing software for the Microsoft system more easily and at less cost on average. And we suffered together the failings of that operating system so there was lots of talk to share about fixing this and that. We learned to love it, to hate it and to keep on using it because the people we worked around were also using it.

And then there's Linux. When Linus Torvalds became the chief architect of the Linux kernel development he helped produce an operating system that was free. But until some packages were produced to make the Linux easier to install and use, it pretty much remained obscure to the average computer user although an amazing introduction to computing in general. Linux opened the door to some very stable dependable systems that became a favorite for servers and was touted "most reliable" in light of the failings of Microsoft's competing server software.

And then there's the Android operating system produced by Google—open source software that allows anyone to get involved in the development of the operating system that has spread primarily for use in small devices like smart phones for instance, both pads and hand-helds.

There are more variants of the Unix/Linux systems but this is enough for now, to try to make a point.

The latest Windows operating system, Windows 8, is becoming something of a disaster for Microsoft. It is a complete departure from the traditional Microsoft operating system and is the attempt by Microsoft to produce touch-screen capacity as a catch-up to the competition that pretty much did an end run around the declining market leader. People have endless problems using the new Microsoft system, including trying to just get used to it. Plus there are problems running some popular software, including new versions you don't buy and install but rent and use in the cloud. You see, the traditional Microsoft user was willing to put up with some glitches here and there and even some security problems with hack potential but having to grind through the learning curve of a complete departure from the old standard interface and also having to put up with continuing glitches in the accustomed software means a continuing battle to get your work done? OUCH!

Does this mean that we old-time Windows user may be facing the demise of Microsoft and that we will have to toss all our software out the windows—so to speak—and start all over?

No, not likely. Microsoft will fix it but they are going to go through a basic change in philosophy. Back then it was okay to keep leaping forward in development and assume that the users of your products would help with research and development and put up with products that were sold before they were finished or fully developed. That isn't working so well anymore.

In the 90’s, I attended many free product demos where Microsoft servers running the large auditorium presentations would crash right in the middle and the audience would pretty much say, "yup, uhuh" and start murmuring amongst themselves about probable causes. Finally, as we approached the new century, a young, clean-cut executive type stood up at one of the last demos I attended and started shouting at the staff on stage, "I'm sick of your endless equipment failures. Do you really think that we have time for this!?" And the person stomped out of the auditorium. The hush that followed was a turning point, I thought.

I noted this in this morning's reading—that there is a flush of new apps that make connecting your various hand held devices to your PC, personal computer, easier. This was a continuing effort some time back to make the Linux operating kernel talk to personal computer equipment. It worked pretty well, works even better now and yes, in time we'll have easy connection between all of our smart phones, pads, tablets, cameras, blue tooth..teeth, androids, various wireless thingies, glasses, wearable communications, Dick Tracy wrist watch and finally that direct mind link download and upload. So you see, you are going to have so many various computing devices loaded into your future including your (maybe) Windows system. Oh my.

All of a sudden one theme song from "Hair" is worming in my ears. "It is the dawning of the age of ... duh dee dah..." Have I got that right? Or am I having problems connecting with my head-held device?


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