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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Get Technical: Only you can fix a broken standard

Last week, I introduced you to the major operating systems of the world – Windows, Linux, Unix, BSD and Mac OS. You got a brief tour of their capabilities and limitations, along with a short history of each.

This week, we are going to find out how we can help fix a broken standard.

Windows, which commands 91.53 percent of the computer operating system market, has more holes than Swiss cheese, be they security-related or otherwise. This needs to be remedied, and quickly.

Linux, with its tight code and secure kernel, has one part of the problem solved. It fills many of the holes Windows has, but opens its own: it’s not exactly easy to use.

Even this humble writer, who has used Linux for some years, still has trouble installing some programs, and drivers are scarce for simple things, such as graphics cards.

Mac OS is simple enough to use, and it runs on top of a Unix kernel, providing the security you might find in Linux. Problem solved, right?

Not so fast, grasshopper – it doesn’t provide much for more advanced users to control minor settings.

Many users like setting their own icons and shortcuts for various Web sites and programs, and some go so far as to write a batch file, a file used to orchestrate many tasks at once, from opening programs to copying and renaming files.

Furthermore, it’s ungodly expensive to run Mac OS, considering you’re locked into a hardware agreement as well as a software agreement – Apple software only runs on Apple hardware. They are a hardware company first and foremost, and have to have something to use with their hardware, so the two are inextricably linked.

Windows runs on most computers and smartphones, but is extremely expensive software, costing upward of $200 for most versions. This drives up the cost of pre-built computers.

Linux, being free, is a great value, but you get the support you pay for: most of the support comes from fellow users. There are very few dedicated staff members for any development team.

The golden standard should be cheap, easy to use, but with lots of flexibility and room for expansion. It should be very secure, and very forgiving, showing few errors on screen while failing gracefully, if at all.

This hasn’t happened, and likely won’t until consumers make themselves heard in large numbers.

Sadly, though everyone in the software development community knows these things, there’s little perceived profit.

It takes too long to implement these things in a new product and pushes deadlines back.

End-users need to seriously consider what they want, they need to tell the people who can provide those things and then they need to be patient while those things are included.

Case in point: Windows Vista, expected for six years, has failed spectacularly. It was supposed to be out three years before it was finally released, but various problems caused it to lose most of its features. It was still released late.

Six billion dollars later, people are moving back to Windows XP in droves, and manufacturers are abandoning Vista for new machine installs. Vista is used less than Windows 98, which will be a decade old next year.

It has failed because normal users don’t like the features it provides, and more technical users don’t like the sugarcoated interface. Information technology staffs around the world hate Vista for its lack of policy control and hardware support.

Because people refuse to use the product, the product is slowly fading away. Take that to heart, because it means that if you show your dislike, you will be heard.

Find out next week how you can fix what you already have so you can get more use and enjoyment out of it.

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