"PC" is not a brand name. It does not denote a specific computer manufactured by a specific company. Sony, Dell, HP, and many other companies all compete in the manufacture, design, and marketing of PC�s. So "PC" denotes a standard for computer hardware. Because computer hardware is standardized, it is possible to make one operating system that will run on any PC, regardless of which company made the PC. Windows will run on a Dell machine just as well as it will run on an HP machine. However, it is currently NOT possible to make one software application program that will run on any "PC Operating System", because there is no such thing as a "PC Operating System". There are specific operating systems � Linux, Solaris, Windows, and so on, but there is no standard for PC Operating Systems. Microsoft�s argument, as I understand it, is that standardization inhibits competition and innovation. They believe that competition means "competing standards" as much as it means "competing to meet a given standard". But even a cursory glance at PC Hardware reveals that one kind of competition doesn�t necessarily preclude the other. For example, USB and Firewire are competing standards, and many computers sold today come equipped with both. Perhaps one of these standards will eventually win out over the other, or maybe computers will forever be equipped with both. But the point is that, even with competition happening at the standards level, PC Hardware has still managed to standardize to the extent that Microsoft does not have to design one operating system for a Sony machine, and a different operating system for a Compaq machine. And this is true even though these very same machines may be equipped with both USB and Firewire, or one or the other. However, if you want to make a word processor application, you�ll need to design one for Linux, one for Windows, and so on. So, keeping in mind that I wouldn�t know an operating system from a hole in the ground, here�s my stupid question: What is it about operating system technology that prevents or discourages the kind of competition that currently drives innovation in the market for PC Hardware? Why is there no such thing as a "PC Operating System"? Is it due to some technical characteristic of operating system software? Or is the result of some other factor(s)?
Originally posted by Wally Flint: What is it about operating system technology that prevents or discourages the kind of competition that currently drives innovation in the market for PC Hardware? Why is there no such thing as a "PC Operating System"? Is it due to some technical characteristic of operating system software? Or is the result of some other factor(s)?
The Kernel, plain and simple. The OS Kernel is what controls the hardware, threading, subsystems, services, etc. In regards to your comment about Microsoft not having to design with respect to hardware, there is a reason for that. It's because hardware manufacturers are starting to design with an OS in mind. For example, the Athlon XP series was AMD's attempt to create a processor optimized for Windows XP. Intel is commonly becoming known as Wintel. HP and Microsoft have a long history of working together to provide solutions in both hardware and software. NVidia has been known to create video cards with optimizations for DirectX. There's so much more to why Microsoft has a grip on evertyhing aside from what you read about lawsuits. Hardware manufactures want to make money too. So they go where the OS goes which is sad because it should be the other way around.. [ March 26, 2004: Message edited by: Gregg Bolinger ]
There's so much more to why Microsoft has a grip on evertyhing aside from what you read about lawsuits.
I couldn't agree with you more. That's why I made this post. It seems difficult, if not impossible, to characterize the problem in a way that lay people can understand it. (I can't even understand it, and I'm a java developer.) But it seems to me that computer hardware provides a practical and proven paradigm for the kind of competition that does NOT exist in the operating system market. But if some form of standardization could bring competition to the op system market, I don't know what it would be. Sun wrote a specification for application servers, and now businesses thrive building products that meet that specification. So I'm wondering... what would a specification for a "standard PC operating system" look like? What would it "specify"?