Why is Windows the #1 operating system on the PC platform?

Published on: Author: Mike Hall 1 Comment

If you answer ‘because Microsoft forces the manufacturers to make us have it’, you are wrong. Microsoft Windows was a natural progression out of MS-DOS which IBM elected to have after something of a snub by Digital Research many years ago.

It doesn’t matter that MS-DOS was not entirely new, having been morphed from QDOS (Quick Dirty Operating System). The fact remains that Microsoft had a workable operating system, and was willing to work with IBM.

Did Microsoft steal the Windows idea from Apple? Does it matter, especially as the idea of a graphical user interface was first seen at Xerox. Both Apple and Microsoft took their lead from that. In those heady days, everybody was using bits of this and bits of that, and Xerox didn’t seem to care too much. Other than IBM’s OS/2, did you notice any other company producing a GUI operating system for the PC platform?

So now we know why it is #1, and we know that it has been #1 since 1991. That is a long time for computers users to get used to Windows conventions and, despite protestations by some about the Vista GUI, there has been very little real change other than minor changes to the appearance of each desktop.

There is a new kid on the block these days. Linux (Unix ported to the PC platform) has received a GUI, making it eminently more usable than the original command line interface. Some Linux distributions are free to download, and offer similar functions to a Windows/Apple operating system. So why isn’t Linux the #1 operating system?

Part of the reason lies in the fact that computers users are unfamiliar with it. The default desktop looks awful, and right clicking to change it just brings up variations of awful. It looks ‘clunky’.

Something else which has to be borne in mind is that fact that more than a few home users in the English speaking world descended on ‘chat’ some years ago. MS Chat in its heyday saw anything above 40,000 users daily, and as much fun as one could have in MS comic chat, the Yahoo chat interface was a good deal easier to use. Finding Yahoo chat was a breeze too. The link to it has been on the Yahoo home page for years.

Why does all of this contribute to the success of Windows? Well, it shows us that people wanted to communicate above the level which the telephone covers. MS Chat and ICQ were too awkward to use but Yahoo Chat from the home page and Yahoo Messenger weren’t. Yahoo captured the imagination of the home computer user, more so when ‘voice’ was added.

Yahoo chatters help each other if they can. For sure, they can sling dirt as well as anybody, but if one of them has a problem getting into chat or wanting to change their picture, they will get on the telephone and ask how. This extends beyond the chat scene too. These computers users help each other out over a range of computer issues.

Were you to take one of them away from the Windows interface, who would be able to help them? Bear in mind that these people are not acquainted with technical terms, but they do understand ‘fourth from the right’, and as long as all users have the same icon ‘fourth from the right’, the world is good.

Windows isn’t just a graphical user interface. It is a community, a way of life where ‘free, but different’ doesn’t cut it. It is all very well for computer literate users to go on about Linux ease of use, but is it exactly the same as Windows and all of the programming that has been around for so long? Will the same community exist for them?

Computers users want change only if the change is better and what they are used to using. Linux doesn’t offer better and, in some cases, offers less.

I would be interested to hear other opinions on the above..   

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