Technology of a computer fully relies on its operating System. I believe that the operating system pushes the companies to develop better hardware to catch up to the advances in the Kernel itself. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary Online, an Operating System is “Software that controls the operation of a computer and directs the processing of programs (as by assigning storage space in memory and controlling input and output functions)” In other words an Operating System is a program that acts between the person using the computer and the computer’s hardware.
It is required in order for a computer user to be able to utilize the hardware in an efficient manner. Every time you start your computer, the operating system checks to see what video card you have installed which is useful when you need to see the screen! Of course the Os cannot do anything useful by itself, it needs other programs and the User itself to help it.
There have been different OS developed in the history of mankind, some have been successful and others have not.
Operating systems started with the famous Unix, they where used for some time by business people for very technical stuff. Unix was a real operating system for real people. Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and other people who worked in the Bell System, made the Unix OS in the early 1970’s after separating from General Electrics with an un-successful attempt of trying to achieve that same goal. With Unix, more than one person can run multiple applications at the same time.
The system has a Username and Password login, which makes each user save his or her work without worrying of someone messing with it. UNIX will run on just about every platform made, and it requires very little advanced hardware to run smoothly. Like today’s windows, Unix has had developments which where made available in stores. After having very good advances from 1971 to 1991 with the First Edition, second Edition, fourth edition, seventh edition, and other advances, AT&T decides to buy Unix. With a bigger income to develop on the Kernel itself, UNIX 95 comes out in 1995 then UNIX 98 followed in 1998. They where mostly used by scientists and workgroups which needed a multi-user environment. I believe that it will still have future developments, but now it is just a shadow of the past.
Most of today’s computers are using a Windows based operating systems. There have been different flavors of windows throughout history and it has not been an easy task to develop the one that we use in the present. The first Windows OS started to be developed in September 1981 and it was sold in stores on November 1985 under the name Windows 1.0. This New Operating System had primitive tools such as MS-DOS Executive, Calendar, Notepad, Terminal, Calculator, Clock, Control Panel, Print Spooler, Clipboard, Windows Write, and Windows Paint. That was not was very impressive since there where other contenders in the market that had much more easier to use interference. There where other versions of Windows released after that, Windows 2.0 was introduced in the fall of 1987, and then Windows 3.0 was released in May of 1990, later came Windows 3.1, which was released in April 1992 (it sold 3 million copies). Windows 3.1 was the turning point for Windows because it provided users with a good graphical user interface.
Later, Windows 95 came out in the market in August of 1995. Windows 95 was a major upgrade to Windows 3.1. This operating system is a true operating system and not an operating environment like the other versions of Windows. The advantages of Windows 95 are that it does not require a separate version of DOS, even though some DOS features are included for compatibility. One advantage of Windows 95 is, it’s improved graphical user interface, which makes working with files and programs easier than earlier versions. Another advantage of Windows 95 is most programs run faster under it because it is written to take advantage of newer 32-bit processors and supports cooperative multitasking. Window 95 includes support for peer-to-peer networking and real e-mail (not web-based). Windows 95 does not include the tools for making Internet Web pages and operating Web page servers.
After Windows 95, Windows 98 came out in the market. This new upgrade provides faster system startup and shutdown, better file management, support for a small amount of multimedia technologies like DVD and Web TV. Window 98 comes with Internet integration, which allows a computer to got online easily and navigate your desktop like a web page itself. This version of windows can also run 16 and 32 bit software, which means it can run older along with newer software. This windows system became widely used by home users because of its capability of performing task well and simplicity of use. This new Windows also came with lots of bug fixes, For example in Windows 95 there was a bug in the Internet Explorer 4.0 that saved all visited web pages in a log, as a hidden system file. That was patched within Internet Explorer 5.0, which comes with Windows 98. Today we have new operating systems which have comes out in the last year or so. After that operating system, Microsoft builds Windows NT (New Technology) a sophisticated graphical user interface operating system designed for client-server networks. Windows NT is a complete operating system but not an operating environment. The advantages of Windows NT is that it is capable of working with multiple CPUs using symmetric multiprocessing, also it allows multitasking and multithreading, it has support for most major networking communications protocols, and Windows NT also includes the user and account system security. The disadvantages of the Windows NT are that it requires more disk space, memory, and faster processors to operate, unlike other OS. In February 17 2000, Windows 2000 comes out in the market to the public. It provides an impressive platform of Internet, intranet, extranet, and management applications for. You can set up virtual private networks securely because it had encrypted connections across the Internet with your choice of which protocol you want to use. You can encrypt data on the network or on-disk for even higher security. With Windows 2000 you can also give users consistent access to the same files and objects from any network connected to that PC. You can use the Windows Installer to distribute your software to users over the LAN.
Later on Thursday September 14, 2000 Microsoft released Windows Me, short for Millennium Edition, which was aimed for home users. The Me operating system boasts some enhanced multimedia features, such as an automated video editor and improved Internet connections. But unlike Microsoft’s Windows 2000 OS, which gives advanced security, reliability, and networking features, Windows Me is just an upgrade to the DOS-based code with no major features. Today Windows XP came out; it is a whole new kind of Windows for consumers. It contains the real 32-bit kernel and duplicate drivers from Windows NT and Windows 2000. This Os of today has tons of new features that no previous version of Windows has had. But the good thing about it is that it does not ignore software from before. It will still run old programs and might even run better. This Windows XP comes in Home and Professional edition, which gives the people the choice to choose the one they want.
I perceive that Linux will be the operating System of the future. Linux is a fully developed operating system that was made by Linus Torvalds when he was a student at the University of Helsinki. Everything started one day when Linux was using a Unix computer, and he did not like a part of it. He sends a letter to the creator requesting for him to change it, but the creator did not believe changing it was necessary. That is what made Linus snap like a twig, he began to believe that an operating system should take into account users’ comments and suggestions for improvements. He made his own Os, which he named it, Linux. Red Hat was a company that bought Linux and made it their goal to bring it to the point where it could be installed just like any other operating system by anyone who could follow a set of simple instructions. This Linux provided full multitasking in a multi-user environment like a Unix system but unlike Unix; it gave a high quality of software for a cost far lower than other commercial versions of Unix.
There are many advantages of Linux, it is cheap, almost all the distributions are available as free downloads online and Linux is a low hardware requirements operating system. It can run on much more humble hardware than most other modern operating systems that require you to have a 1000 gigabyte hard rive. An old computer with 486 MHZ with 16 megabytes of ram and 500 Megs of hard drive space has enough power to host an intranet with a firewall for multiple computers at one time. Linux also will boot and run (with full graphical user interface) in less than 4 megabytes of ram, and 8 Megs of ram is plenty for web surfing the web with Netscape. Linux is available as a Gnu (general public license) and open source distribution. That means that anyone is allowed to have a copy distribute it and modify it without having to buy the OS. With its source people are able to change the kernel to suit their needs. That makes Linux very flexible and reliant for programmers and home users alike. I believe that when the home users open their eyes and start looking at other operating systems the ISP’s will need better servers that will be compatible with a wide variety of OS. When a new operating system comes out the Server’s kernel can just be upgraded in a couple of minutes and there would be no problem. Linux of course, does not have a chance of being in a desktop in the future. Since Microsoft is not making available their products on that OS, it has made Linux unpopular. The good thing about the situation is that people have been making programs just for Linux, which cannot be runed on a regular Windows computer without making it Crash.
The world of computers revolves around Operating systems 60 percent of the time. When a new hardware comes out the Operating System has to be updated before hand. If the OS comes to the point when it cannot be updated because it occupies to much disk space, the hardware vendors will have to improve the disk space in order to keep the technology advancing. I believe that the OS flexes the computers to its needs. That is great because programmers have been able to make those needs huge, making the Hardware companies work like dogs day and night making better equipment.