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NT & Unix
The popularity of NT has to be understood in terms of the general need of
corporate America to adapt single-vendor, single-operating system solutions
When I started out in the industry in 1968, there were numerous mainframes
in NYC besides IBM. I got started on Honeywell equipment at Met Life and
worked on a Burroughs check-writing computer at Salomon Bros. There were
GE's at the American Stock Exchange, as I recall.
The reason that IBM became the accepted solution was that the customer
service was superior to the other vendors, even though the other computers
might have been technically superior. It should be recalled that Burroughs
was the first to feature virtual storage.
When IBM MVS became the standard, it was easier to recruit from the pool of
programmers who knew the operating system "job control language". This led
to the adoption of IMS and CICS, the IBM database and teleprocessing
monitor. Software standards were standardized and training costs were
decreased. If you purchased a Honeywell computer, it would be more
difficult to find experienced programmers who could build online database
This is what attracts corporate America to Microsoft today. Columbia
University runs Sybase applications on AIX boxes, but is looking very
carefully at NT as every other corporation is. There is no question that a
Windows based operating system will be easier to administrate than Unix.
This morning I was beating my head against the wall trying to do a "kill
-9" on a task and all of its parent tasks properly. I am quite sure that NT
would have had a much less arcane approach.
If Microsoft was the single vendor, then all sorts of connectivity issues
would be resolved. You would run NT, SQL Server and Windows 95 client
applications built with Visual Basic or Access. This means that the
likelihood of compatibility issues would lessen. This was the appeal of IBM
in the 1960s and 70s.
Part of my problem with the discussion of Microsoft on this mail-list is
that it adopts the outlook of corporate America, which is the logic of an
anti-trust legal action such as the kind being mounted. The whole concern
is about how to ensure competition.
Honestly, I am not so swept up by this concern as I am by the concern to
keep the Internet as an open, nonproprietary network. There is no question
in my mind that Gates and allies of his in the broadcasting business want
to adopt a model much more like cable TV than the public library. Frankly,
I don't care if I end up using Explorer or Netscape, just as long as there
is open access to the sort of political information that I seek on the
My question is this: can Microsoft ever "privatize" the Internet as long as
it is built on the TCP-IP architecture. As long as everybody is on the same
level playing field--and this is the nature of TCP-IP--how can Microsoft
block the transmission of "dangerous" thoughts? The problem of censorship
is a very real one in cyberspace and I am not quite sure that Microsoft's
shipping of Explorer as part of Windows 95 exacerbates this problem.