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The Commodore Amiga, released in 1985 or thereabouts, could do pretty much everything that Windows 95 could do ten years later (and with a fraction of the hardware capability). It failed due to poor marketing, poor quality hardware, and a market that just wasn't ready. (Based on the Motorola 68000 CPU, it could even emulate a PC faster than most PCs of the day! Indeed, the Acorn Risc Machine could do the same a couple of years later. It failed mainly due to appalling marketing decisions but the CPU lives on in mobile phones).
What would we be without bill gates.. a big fat nothing. or at least 20 years behind what we are today...
I fail to see what exactly MS invented that is so crucial, original and that wasn't in some competitor's radar. Sure they did a great job for mass production and marketing the products.. but in terms of inventiveness, you'll have to defend your case.
Sure, when I'm showing my Mum my holdiday photos I might try shiny mode.
When one of the up-and-comming OS competitors can say "All of your stuff will run on our new OS (e.g. Photoshop!) - but its fast instead of shiny" I will dump windows in a heatbeat. I would honestly pay more for an OS that was just plain fast.
So far as I am aware, Microsoft have never actually invented anything significant, useful and original. You should take a look under the surface some time - it's scary. Windows 95 was promoted as being object-orientated, but Windows are not themselves objects and Microsoft objects cannot be built-upon (an astonishing omission). Microsoft call their objects "interfaces".
Microsoft are not now, nor have they ever been innovators.
Microsoft have never actually invented anything significant, useful and original
They invented OS that was able to run older software without recompiles. That was pretty novel approach - that alone helped them win since every new OS they had still allowed to run all or most of the legacy software. That's one of the key reasons why Intel won the processor wars too - even Apple had to now use them.
Microsoft are not now, nor have they ever been innovators.
I don't think this is a correct point of view at all, granted recently Microsoft was on defensive more copying than inventing, however in the 90s they were pretty positive force for good. Just like Google in the current decade (which is about to end).
They invented OS that was able to run older software without recompiles.That's 99% due to the fact that Intel 286 CPUs could run 8086 and 8088 code and the 386 could run 286/86/88 code. All that Microsoft had to do was implement some mode switching code and a compatibility layer - but here's the amazing part - they couldn't even do that themselves they had to buy-in that technology (they were called dos-extenders).
What's more Microsoft did not invent this strategy, the Acorn Archimedes/ARM could run Acorn BBC-Micro programs back in 1987 - that's three years before Windows 3 could run Dos programs (I presume that's what you are referring to). I doubt Acorn were the first either!
As I mentioned before, the Archimedes/ARM could also emulate a PC i.e. it could run DOS software and it could do so faster than typical PCs of the day too!
That's 99% due to the fact that Intel 286 CPUs could run 8086 and 8088 code and the 386 could run 286/86/88 code.
That sure helped. But there were and still are plenty of OSes that require recomplies even if the CPU is backwards compatible.
A lot of people underestimate just how hard it is to maintain backwards compatibility - it is very hard, however it is priceless feature of a platform - that's why Intel/Microsoft were such a winning combination, that and low price as well as meaningful (until recently for Microsoft) upgrades. The difference in stability (while maintaining compatability with old software) between MS-DOS 5 -> Windows 3.1 -> Windows 95 -> Windows XP is stagerring - is that not innovation? Maybe Unix had all that for decades, but if it wasn't for Microsoft pushing easy GUI to the masses we'd still have to use Lynx to text browse this forum! :o
that's three years before Windows 3 could run Dos programs
I think you are forgetting that Microsoft was selling OSes well before 1987 - Lotus 1-2-3 for example could run on MS-DOS 3 as well as MS-DOS 5, that made PC architecture (that certainly includes Microsoft OS) priceless - BBC-Micro is just kids stuff :)
A lot of people underestimate just how hard it is to maintain backwardsIt is relatively easy - all you do is implement the API calls of the old OS using the API calls of the new OS. Running 16bit apps in a 32bit OS complicates the issue somewhat, but Intel did the hard work on that. As for other CPUS, the 68000 and the ARM were 32bit from their inception so there would never have been any such difficulties (ARM was 32/26bit).
Be honest, can you think of one, just one, genuinely useful innovation that can be attributed to Microsoft? Animated paper-clips and puppies don't count!
It is, perhaps, also worth pointing out that if IBM had given away OS/2 version 3 (WARP) they would have killed off Microsoft - it could run Windows 3.1 software in a 32bit OS and was released nearly a year before Windows 95.
In the early 80s, Microsoft was the only software company that marketed two operating systems for PCs: Xenix (high end) and DOS (low end).
Microsoft was probably the first software company to adapt Unix to run on PCs.
It is relatively easy - all you do is implement the API calls of the old OS using the API calls of the new OS
It's not easy at all - look at the amount of effort that it took Wine people to make a release, and Windows is relatively API based - DOS had a lot less APIs and completely different memory management.
if IBM had given away OS/2 version 3 (WARP) they would have killed off Microsoft
Not at all - it never run Windows programs as well as Windows, that killed it despite IBM having access to APIs etc - that just proves the point that maintaining backwards compability is very hard thing to do, however it is very valuable advantage if achieved.
Given that Windows was built from an extended DOS, running DOS programs does not count as innovation. And consider this (excluding Windows NT) it took Microsoft ten years to make full use of the 386 architecture (with Windows 95) by which time the 486 had come (and nearly gone) and the Pentium had arrived.
It's hardly accurate to claim that DOS and Windows memory management are totally different - in practical terms, DOS didn't really have any memory management unless you count all those silly bodges to access memory beyond 1MB - bodges that were only required because Microsoft were too useless to create an extended DOS themselves (something other software companies managed with little difficulty).
The Wine project has no relation with backward compatibility - its an emulation project
Err? The whole point of Wine is to ensure that legacy Windows software runs fine - I don't actually think they emulate anything, they re-implemented APIs, it does not matter really because the point is that it is very hard to support legacy software and Microsoft did a very good job with it taking us from 16 bit computing to 64 bit one.
Given that Windows was built from an extended DOS, running DOS programs does not count as innovation.
Bill Gates said at the time that Windows 95 is not ready if it can't run well DOOM game which was DOS app, Windows 3.1 could not do it, but Windows 95 did, is that not an innovation?
It's hardly accurate to claim that DOS and Windows memory management are totally different
It's very accurate - 16-bit MS-DOS memory management was poor, even 16-bit Windows did it better and finally 32-bit version was doing it okay - all that had to happen while supporting old poorly written applications, there is no other OS manufacturer who achieved that/
Microsoft were too useless to create an extended DOS themselves (something other software companies managed with little difficulty).
DOS way (like Unix command line) was dead end that would not have allowed computers to be used by normal people, without GUI like in Windows I think we would not see computers spread around so well so quickly and Microsoft was right to avoid creating yet another compatibility problem by creating stop gap measure like extended DOS.
[edited by: Lord_Majestic at 5:52 pm (utc) on Oct. 15, 2008]
Nobody's arguing about their marketing teams. They sell food predigested, as if it makes it better.
Technically, it's a different story. In the early 80s, Microsoft still hadn't written ONE operating system. (There are people who'd say they still haven't.)
And I think that's the great divide. Marketers respect Microsoft as the ultimate hero. Techies despise them as incompetent thieves.
I'm impressed. When I'm that high on crack, and I try to type, I break the keyboard.
Do you remember how software was in late 70s and early 80s? The industry was non-existant - IBM was calling the shots and hardware was the key. Software came as almost freebie with large hardware mainframe order, any techie that writes software to earn a living should be in a least small part be grateful to Microsoft for actually making software an independent and in some respect more important element of IT than hardware business.
And what about drivers? Anyone here remembers DOS days when printer manufacturers had to make custom drivers for different software products, so if you had something new you might not be able to print out? Driver model introduced in Windows completely revolutionized relationship between hardware and software - the OS was actually doing a lot of useful stuff which is forcing manufacturers write more or less generic drivers.
A lot of people kick Microsoft for wrong reasons - they sure did bad things and had bad OS releases from time to time (regularly in fact), but they certainly did much more good than bad - the only people who have real right to hate Microsoft are IBMers :)
One genuine, useful innovation that can be attributed to Microsoft is all I asked for, and the best suggestions we have so far are the taskbar and the bundling together of various office apps - it's really not looking good for MS.
If we were having this discussion about Apple, there would be many good suggestions.
First, some background...
Look for the article "U.S. Adds Laptop Computers to Listing Of Products That Can Be Sold to Soviets" by Eduardo Lachica and published by the Wall Street Journal on August 15, 1989.
Abstracts from that article:
"The Commerce Department announced last month that it was lifting export curbs on a wide class of desktop computers. But the order carrying out that decision adds not only laptops but other, more powerful versions of International Business Machines Corp.'s PS/2 line than the original announcement covered..."
"Laptops and portable computers designed to take rough handling had been excluded at the Pentagon's insistence from the Commerce Department's preliminary order in July. That order did apply to a whole category of desktop computers, including the widely sold IBM AT models and their clones..."
"By slightly modifying its technical standards, the new order adds the IBM PS/2 Model 50 and its clones to the list of desktops to be taken off the control list. The earlier decision drew the line at the PS/2 Model 30 and their equivalents..."
"The order retains the existing curbs on shipments to a number of countries that pose foreign-policy problems for the U.S., including Libya, Cuba and Vietnam. The final order also restricts shipment to military and police organizations and certain other types of consignees in Nicaragua, Panama and South Africa."
Exports laws were a major constrain for U.S. software companies to fully exploit the capabilities of the 386.
Please remember the original IBM Personal System/2 included two configurations of the Model 30, based on the Intel 8086 processor; the Model 50 and two configurations of the Model 60, all of which used the Intel 80286 processor; and three configurations of the Model 80, based on the Intel 80386 processor.
The explanation is basically in the middle of the talk, minute 30 plus approx.
Stallman's quote: "We were working on a kernel, which was actually delayed by the fact that we have decided to base it on the Mach microkernel, but for a while there was export control..."
That talk was given on September 27, 1997 in Aachen, Germany.
I should point out that the Soviet Union came to an end on December 21, 1991.
So it's easy to figure out why 32-bit based hardware and apps were freely deployed across the world after the end of the USSR.
Unfortunately, that's how the world works.
If Microsoft ever made such an excuse it was BS pure and simple.
So it's easy to figure out why 32-bit based hardware and apps were freely deployed across the world after the end of the USSR
386 computers were available in the UK in the mid eighties (as were 68020 computers). So far as I am aware, the western world suffered no shortage of 32-bit hardware at any time. As for 32bit software, plenty existed (esp for 68K CPUs since that's all they could run) but none from Microsoft.
You mention Macs but don't talk about compatibility issues that they had in their OSes and processors - that is one of the reasons why they lost the game despite having early advantage of GUI.
386 (think released in 1986) were very expensive at start anyway, and Windows 2.1 supported 386 protected mode in 1988 - which is just a couple of years past the release of the CPU, that's pretty good timing actually. Naturally Microsoft never bothered to create protected mode DOS because it was dead end and they did not want to dillute the correct path which was Windows.
Are we using the same definition for innovation? See [dictionary.reference.com...]
What about the internationalization of operating systems and business applications?
See [archive.org...] (originally aired in September 1990)
Fast forward to 6:30 and hear the host talk about "the acknowledged leader in US software business...". Hear also interesting comments from Bill Gates.
Then listen to Stewart Alsop's comments on Microsoft.
Don't you think the internationalization of operating systems and business applications was a major innovation from Microsoft? Could you name another software company that made something similar?