The operating system

When I learned my first lessons on how to handle a Computer I took the DOS operating system for granted (it was a very early version) and I did not have an idea that there are also others. When I got my first own Computer I have chosen one that already had a very powerful version of Basic included. When I got to school most others had a Commodore 64. Although my Computer was better from the architecture it was less popular and after a while I also switched to a C64 otherwise I would not have been able to talk with my companions and I could not play games with them - because for the Computer I had there were not many games available.

I am telling this because it is a good example of the fact that not always the best technology is the one that gets popular. This is a sad truth.

When we got the first XT PC at home it came (still/again) with DOS (although some newer version) and later with a 286 the Windows times began. At this time I did not knew that there were already other operating systems existing - I simply didn't know them, nobody of my companions were ever talking about something else.

At the IT specialized school I attended we learned something also about Xenix (a Unix type OS) and BS2000, but the main focus was on the PC - maybe because of the simple fact that we all had a PC at home by this time. So it was simply the most popular. And it was the most popular maybe because it was available to everybody.

For years DOS and Windows was normal for me and the only relevant operating systems. A few years ago I noticed more often existence of other operating systems. By this time I was already used to many flaws and bad concepts of the Windows OS and only after experiencing a lot of frustration and after compassionate looks from other people (using Linux) when I complained about my problems I started to get more interested in trying an alternative. By this time there were only few attempts just to do some first tests and it was awful. If you are used to do certain things in a certain way for many, many years then it is hard to get along with something that works a little different.

Since about two years I am using Linux at home (the Fedora distribution in particular) and here is why I switched away from Windows:
  • I had some bad experiences with hardware failures and on Microsoft Windows it was hard / impossible to find out what the real problem was because it was simply running slow and unstable. This is behaviour that can be seen with a lot of Windows software: Problem analysis can be very difficult and error messages can be misleading.
  • I tried to backup some data I didn't have a copy from so far and the burned CD showed empty on Windows - even on a workstation that was intact. When I gave Linux a try the CD was completely readable and I got my data. So Windows was simply not reliable any more for me for basic features such as "is there data on my disc?".
  • Windows is expensive - not talking only about the licence cost - I am talking about the complete Return of investment. For some simple additional features Microsft waits to include it in the next version instead of adding it to the next service pack for older versions.
  • When installing Windows you get a very basic set of features only. For word processing, spreadsheets, presentations you usually have to get a version of Microsoft Office also. A good alternative (at least for what you usually need at home) is Open Office. When installing Linux Open Office comes already with the OS.
  • The software installation and deinstallation architecture on Windows is fault-prone. It is seen as "normal" that a Windows machine after a lot of software installation and deinstallation gets slower and more unstable and after a few years has to be completely reinstalled.
  • A lot of useful additional software for Windows is payware.
  • It is seen also as "normal" on Windows that even a server has to be rebooted on a regular basis to ensure that the system runs properly.
  • The business conduct of Microsoft does not fit to my understanding of fairness, honesty and correctness (there are a lot of other companies not fitting as well :-( ).
Since I switched to Linux my view of the world grew larger. There are a lot of other Operating Systems and technologies around that are not used by Windows but make a lot of sense. Windows is really not alone in the field - have a look at the list of operating systems for example. From my point of view some of the most important are (still) Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and BSD.

I have the very clear opinion that an Operating System not opening it's interoperability for being used together with other systems and technologies will not make it on the long run.

Related posts: Why I have chosen Fedora, Why I switched to Ubuntu, The hardware, Installing your PC from scratch, Why Linux?, Going Linux, The Microsoft logic.

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