Microsoft are really
trying to keep there strangle hold on the home market. Offering stability
improvements, a much-revised first time user experience and a totally new
GUI with Neptune. Also taking bounds in the multimedia world with all new
releases. Microsoft now finds themselves in a war on their home turf. No
longer the difference of hardware platforms will decide the Operating System
the user chooses. Lets now look at some of these competitors.
At this present time, BeOS would have to be Microsoft's strongest competitor
for the ever-growing home market. Originally, BeOS ran on a home baked dual
processor machine. named the BeBox. Since the death of the BeBox, BeOS now
runs on both the Mac and PC platforms. The BeOS was designed to bring out
the performance of present and future hardware in multimedia. This presents
the end user with a faster OS that hasn't been over coded in a struggle
to keep up with the latest technology.
Be have done an outstanding
job achieving this, and I was quiet shocked to see what my old system was
capable of. The BeOS has truly earned the title of, Real time Broadband
Digital Media OS. With an install time of ten minutes, boot time of 15 seconds,
a 64-bit File System, Dynamic Journaling System, Symmetric Multi-Processing,
Preemptive Multitasking and Pervasive Multithreading, BeOS proves to be
a much-advanced step toward computing.
Coming from a Windows
background is not a problem as there is almost no immediate learning curve.
But lets not forget the CLI, it is POSIX compliant, allowing the easy
portability of many Linux programs. The once big hurdle of the BeOS, being
hardware support has really been crushed with BeOS R4.5 and recent updates.
However, the lack of applications, especially stable Internet applications
keeps the BeOS from kicking some Microsoft butt. I see this as only a
temporary setback, and as most applications for the BeOS come open source,
it should not be to long before Microsoft is eradicated from my PC.
Linux has gained an
unexpectedly large amount of interest in the home market over the past two
years. This could be due to any number of reasons including, it's both free
and open source, almost all applications are free and open source, the stability
is unsurpassed, the code is constantly revised, updated and added to by
a numerous amount of programmers across the world. Linux is undisputable
a giant in the Server OS world, with just the name Linux being a symbol
of stability and security, but just how good is Linux for home use? With
the interest in Linux growing, many new distributions have surfaced offering
easy installation and configuration.Well-established distributions such
as Redhat are also striving to meet the same goals, but first time users
should be aware of the difference between the many distributions. Non-standardization
is a large stumbling block for Linux, though some would argue this is simply
"freedom of choice".
Looking at Linux now,
we find it is a CLI OS. Linux wouldn't have been mentioned here if not for
the X Window System. The look and feel of X can be changed in any number
of ways with different Desktop Environments and Window Managers. X also
comes with a good suite of applications and utilities, to help the first
time user. Unfortunately, X is quiet slow at present, but this shouldn't
discourage anyone looking into Linux seriously, as even the most minor of
tasks takes time in Linux. Linux is not for everyone, but for those wishing
to acquire a much better understanding of computing, Linux will go as far
as you can.
Many of you may still be unaware that Sun will ship you a copy of Solaris
for only the price of shipping. Solaris is much like Linux, in fact most Linux
applications can be compiled in Solaris without the need for any change. Installing
is harder than many Linux distributions, and this also proves to be the case
with finding relevant help The GUI, CDE is quiet nice, but leaves much to
be desired in the terms of applications. Solaris however, does conform to
all Unix standards unlike the more popular clone, Linux. My advice here would
be to try Linux before attempting Solaris.
Still in development,
Trumpet Software's, PetrOS could be a good contender to Microsoft in the
home market. Note, there are also development plans to compete as a Server.
PetrOS is a true preemptive multi-tasking 32bit OS that offers no support
to 16bit hardware. Much like Linux, PetrOS can be installed as a CLI OS,
which is Unix based, so allowing the later development of third-party Window
Systems. However, a GUI is included in the package. PetrOS is bound to hit
Microsoft where it really hurts, as it will run all win32 applications.
Having the advantage of being a new OS, users can expect clean fast operating
code. Unfortunately, PetrOS can only read FAT16 and FAT32 File Systems at
the moment. The KISS (Keep It Small and Simple) approach from Trumpet developers
is very appealing, though without any hands on time, I will not try to pass
judgment. Alpha testing will commence soon and although there isn't a scheduled
release date, consumers can expect to pay anywhere from 20 to 100 dollars.
Over the past 6 months,
two new projects have caught my eye.The first was Generic Windows, this
was an attempt to use a BSD base and emulate the Windows environment for
the use of win32 applications. However, upon writing this article I found
the official website is down.
The second is Freedows, this is an imaginative project that I really hope
gets off the ground. Freedows will emulate most common Operating Systems
environments allowing the user to work with Linux, Windows, MS-DOS, BeOS
and MacOS applications side by side. They have chosen to use, what is known
as a Cache-Kernel, which will speed up the process of emulation. As the
development stage has not begun, I will write no more about this but do
urge you to have a look, this is very interesting reading :-)
A few months ago geeknews.com had an interesting poll with much more interesting
results. The question posed to readers was, and I quote "If you were
limited to one Operating System for your entire life... Which would you
choose?". The results showed close to 40% in favor of BeOS, next was
I'd rather shoot myself at near 19%, then Windows with a 17% vote, Linux
came in very close at 16%, followed by MacOS and then BSD. The others are
not worth mentioning. I chose "I'd rather shoot myself" and though
this isn't true, at the present time no OS can fully satisfy me.
In closing, with new leaner, cleaner more powerful Operating Systems already
existing and also being developed, just how long are you willing to keep
buying the newest hardware in an effort to smoothly run the latest Microsoft
Ps. If I see one more "Wizard" to set preferences, I'm going to