The Microsoft Windows Operating Systems
The initial operating systems
were all MS-DOS based – Windows 1.0 to Windows 3.1. Windows 95 was released in 1995
(funny that) by Microsoft in competition with IBM's OS/2 operating system. Microsoft quickly
overtook the OS and GUI markets from the IBM PC.
Windows 95 was a major improvement from the MS-DOS based operating systems and soon become
the most successful operating system. It was followed by the equally successful Windows 98.
Windows XP, released in 2001, is now 12 years old. Despite its age, it is still used by a quarter
of all visitors. Windows XP is fully functional and efficient – not with the gloss of
Windows 7, but still solid and reliable.
The migration to Windows 7 has been limited by cost – a complete reinstall is needed,
and usually new sound and video cards. And some legacy applications will not work.
But there are drawbacks to staying with Windows XP. The security is 12 years old, Internet
Explorer 9 will not work, nor will HTML5 and CSS3, and Microsoft is soon to stop all support.
Vista was released in 2007, but was badly conceived and rushed. The need for a new operating
system was evident – the Windows internals were showing their age. All the bits'n'pieces
that has been cobbled together over the years needed a complete revamp. Frequent restarts
were needed to reorganise fragmented memory, and to free chunks of unused memory.
Instead of concentrating on modernising the internals of Windows, Microsoft decided to revamp
many features as well. The result was an operating system that took forever to arrive, was
badly tuned, error prone, incompatible with previous code, had missing drivers – and
worse of all, alienated the users.
After a few years, most of the problems had been resolved, but Vista was never fully accepted
by the public or the corporate world.
Released in 2010, the latest Version from Microsoft has proven remarkably stable, with minimal
problems. Most companies that avoided Windows Vista are likely to migrate to Windows 7 –
now that the first Service Pack is available. Windows 7 is available in both a 32-bit version
and a 64-bit version.
The best features are:
- Installation and Setup is relatively pain free
- The boot process is fast
- The system requires fewer resources to run than Windows Vista
- Large displays are easier to setup and use
- The Start button search is easier to use
- External USB devices can be easily encrypted
- Document Libraries can be used to locate files
- The UAC is now completely under user control
- Taskbar Icons can be combined
- Better power management for notebooks
A Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been released. It caters for PCs, tablets, and phones. The
new and controversial Metro style screen is generating a large amount of negative comment.
There seems to be little enthusiasm from the major ISVs.
- Visual Basic developers will be able to program for the phone or the tablet, as well as for
- Files can be saved online using Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud service. This will allow access
to files from all the different devices.
- There is now the addition of Skype and the newly acquired Yammer social network - competing
against Facebook and Twitter.
- The translucent Aero look is gone. Office 2013 now has a flat, grey and uninspired interface
with tabs in CAPITALS ï¿½ so utterly rejected by Visual Studio developers.
- There are already many add-ons that will provide a Start Menu.
Microsoft should have come out with two versions, one for touch sensitive devices and one for
the desktop. Let the users choose.
And we await the arrival of Windows 8 Blue with trepidation.