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Re: The term "operating system"
From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 1997 9:20 PM
Subject: The term "operating system"
>Is there an agreed-upon definition of "operating system"?
In my humble opinion, NO! Witness our current DOJ vs. MS regarding MS
attempt to pitch that the browser application program is really (and should
be) part of "the operating system".
Originally, the OS was intended to provide an interface between the human
computer programmer and the hardware. The more sophisicated the OS, the more
"user friendly" the interface. In today's world of software objects,
components, plug-ins, Active-X controls, Java applets, etc. The complexities
of the OS have reached into the hundreds of millions of lines of OS code.
We have evolved (thank goodness!) to a point now where the OS is more than
the interface between the hardware components and the programmer. The OS has
been expanded to encapsulate the end-user interface. The GUI or Graphical
User Interface, pioneered by Xerox, lifted by Steve Jobs (et. al.) for
Apple, and blantantly copied by Microsoft for Windows, is currently the
I would like to see Microsoft split into;
1) an OS developer/marketer company, enhancing Windows ability to manage
ever-expanding hardware components, input/output devices (voice, human-bio,
eye-movement capture, etc.). Pouring their extensive resources into
creating/evolving the man-machine interface beyond its current
keyboard-entrenched/flat glass technologies.
2) an applications development/marketer company, MS Office, MS Project,
Encarta, the games, the travel agencies, etc. This company would compete in
an open market, having no advanced access to new OS versions beyond that
available to anyone else. (Here in lies the rub in terms of MS unfair
competitive advantage over the rest of us software developers).
3) a database development/marketer company, primarily focused on SQL Server
and again, with no more advanced access to new OS versions beyond that
available to their competitors. (Repeat above unfair competitive advantage
Where am I going with this you ask? MS is leveraging their OS into
applications (bye! bye! SAP, PeopleSoft, Baan, etc. if they get into the
enterprise applications business), databases (bye! bye! Oracle, Sybase,
Informix, etc. whenever MS decides to "embed" SQL Server in Windows NT).
It smacks of classic monopolistic vertical leverage of an unfair competitive
advantage. We must act sooner rather than later or watch as many great
companies go down the tubes. If left unchecked, even the flow and storage of
INFORMATION, in all electronic forms, may come under the "influence" of
Microsoft. This is NOT GOOD FOR THE FUTURE OF MAN.
Wow! Too much caffeine this morning! I'll step down off this concern of
mine, and go back to yours...
>My overriding concern, as a consumer, is keystrokes. My understanding
>is that Windows handles certain keystrokes in a manner that application
>programs cannot "see," and that it provides apps with no way to handle
>those keystrokes themselves. Can our tech types confirm or refute this?
>Such behavior, in my carefully considered opinion, far oversteps the
>bounds of what an operating system should do.
One of the primary purposes of the OS is to provide an consistent,
replicatable, and easy-to-use interface between hardware component (a
keyboard, for example) and the programs using it (word processors, apps,
etc.). The current state of affairs, in all but the most simplistic program
development languages/tools, is that there are varying degrees of "control"
that the programmer has regarding feedback from the OS regarding the
hardware input devices (keyboard, mouse, etc.). A developer can use the
default mode, which reports back functional commands from the keyboard, such
as page-down, exit, etc. or a more advanced (and difficult to program) mode
where literally every key touched and mouse-movement vector is reported back
to the program. Very tedious programming (an unproductive in most cases).
If I read between the lines, I sense that your concern centers around the
notion that maybe the OS could act like a "big brother" watching our
keystrokes, video displays, and perhaps sooner than later, reporting back to
the "big man" all those of us in the cyber-community that mention the words,
Microsoft basher or Clinton is dishonest or something...
You have a very valid concern! And very real!
>(Let us not hear about how great Windows key bindings are or how we
>need a consistent keyboard interface for everyone from six-year-olds to
>100-wpm touch typists. I've been grinding this ax for a LONG time, and
>it's VERY sharp.)
Okay, you won't. At least not from me.
Marvin C. Slayton, mailto:email@example.com
Structured Computer Systems, Inc., http://www.scsinfo.com
30 Tower Lane, Avon, CT 06001
phone: 860.677.0222, fax: 860.677.7157