Operating Systems and Cars…

I've been thinking about desktop operating systems and why one operating system may win out over others, first, you need to identify the users of the PC, for the most part PC's are used in the home or in the office, perhaps both, the user of the PC is probably familiar with the User Interface and way in which the operating system works on their 'main' PC, whether this be at home or in the office, so it makes sense for that person to also use the same (familiar) operating system on their other PC's, right?

Isn't this similar to the car? - it doesn't matter which make of vehicle you get into, the controls are standardised, (A,B,C, Accelerator, Brake, Clucth), the gear shift (for the most part) operates in the same way across all vehicles, controls for lights, indicators, and so on... a user of one vehicle is able to switch to other vehicles because there is a standard for the 'user interface' of the vehicle, and the list of features between vehicles is also similar (OK, one car might have a radio, and another might have a full BOSE stereo system with six CD stack, but the systems are still familiar to a user).

Is this also the case for home/office PC's ? - Windows and MAC UI are somewhat similar, but what about Windows and Linux? - is there a standard UI and feature set for Linux that is consistent across all distributions ? - ok, back to the car analogy, how many of us spend time working on the engine of our vehicles, changing oil, spark plugs, performing regular maintenance per the owners manual? - I would think the number is actually fairly small, most of us probably leave maintenance to our local dealer or garage, and this is probably also true of the operating systems we run on our computers - I would expect the 'average' user to not spend any time fiddling under the hood of the operating system... Windows is getting smarter at configuring itself for the user, Windows Update goes a long way towards making sure the user has the latest drivers, the latest security fixes, and other updates from Microsoft, Windows XP SP2 will take this further by locking down certain features of the operating system... but what about Linux, for an average user are there mechanisms to make configuration and maintenance easier ? - Do drivers and system updates come from a single source?

OK, so what about the core operating system, users expect that the features they have on one PC will also be available on other PC's, an Internet Browser, Media Player, connectivity options etc... IMHO the operating system that's going to win out is the one that provides consistent features across all PC's, and is able to update itself with new drivers and security features so that users don't need to spend time working "under the hood". But hey, that's just my opinion.

- Mike

Comments (6)

  1. drebin says:

    Good metaphor.. I would almost say that Linux is like a car with replacable dashboards/steering wheel/etc.. that’s not very user-friendly because when you rent a Linux car – that one uses those steering sticks like a tank, and you are used to the steering wheel that works like an airplane… you spend all of your time "getting used to it", rather than using it.

    Windows is consistent – like you said.

    Mac is like getting into a car, and there is nothing but one huge red button that says "Drive Car"

    With XP – it almost seems like Windows is trying to be more like Mac.. and that, to me, is going too far. It seems smart to keep low-level technical options available while at the same time, making things easier.

    For example, I still haven’t figured out how to make a file share on XP and set share-level permissions.. I’m pretty sure it’s not possible? With Win2K – you could have file permissions AND set permissions specific to people connecting via the share.. just as an example..

  2. Mike says:

    Like a tank – LOL

    – Mike

  3. Mike Dimmick says:

    drebin: under Tools > Folder Options, go to the View tab and uncheck ‘Use simple file sharing’. This restores the Sharing and Security tabs to the folder properties. They work just like Win2k.

    I usually just use the file system permissions: the network file server impersonates the client, so the file system permissions are enforced. I leave the share permissions set to Everyone: Full Control. You could duplicate the settings, but this would be a real pain for maintenance purposes.

  4. drebin says:

    Mike – thanks!! Understood – but there are two cases I have, where the share needs to be different than the file syste… but I know what you mean.

    Good find – thanks!! 🙂

  5. Marcelo vk says:

    Well, sometimes the more user interface gets too user friendly, and some tasks could also be much more difficult, example is the new super user friendly ‘Control Panel’ and the Search Companion, wich is the features i just turn ir off the first time i get an Windows — Cos they are just "Too friendly" for me. Good point to have an Option to turn that off – Except for the dog of search companion, that i took it off using a tweak from http://www.tweakxp.com. I hope that SP 2 still let us to have the less friendly UI. Linux is getting on the way to have a better and a standard interface too. By example, the gnome project has a big document called human guided interfaces, which they explain all the standards a program must have to take care of UI. KDE desktop is also getting easier for the final user, beacause everything is getting back to the ‘Window Manager" itself – not the OS. And about the drivers and update, every distro takes care, by example debian with the marvelous apt-get or gentoo with the emerge. It would be nice to have something like that ‘apt-get’ on windows XP too. But when this comes to the embedded world, i must agree that microsoft is in front of all others, because windows ce is easy to learn, and to build too (i do work with it).

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