Microsoft Windows

Windows: The Best and The Worst

I must confess that even as I don't like Windows, I use it more than any other system. On my desk at work, I have a FreeBSD (unix) system and a Windows-98 machine. In our server room, we have 3 Linux machines - and a Windows 95 "server". At home, we have 2 (old) Macs and a Windows-98, and my daughter wants to trade her Mac for another Windows machine.

Windows has attained the dominant status, where it is assumed that a "personal computer" runs Windows, unless one specifically states otherwise. This is not the because it is a good system (although recently, it is "not as bad as it used to be"), but because the programs one wants to run on a personal computer tend to be available only for Windows. Because it is the most prevalent.

A Little Historical Background

Windows 3.1 was a pile of not very good software, weighed down by tradition and compatibility. As students of computing history will remember, Windows was conceived as a stopgap, something to use until the real thing, OS/2, jointly developed by IBM and Microsoft could be ready.

As it turned out, the requirement to make it run on the original PC (Intel 8086 CPUs) which did not have any memory management hardware, was an impossible goal. Chasing it, caused the project to take forever, until Microsoft gave up and pulled out to pursue a more complete system based on the Windows code. Eventually, it turned out that the goal of a windowed user interface on the real-mode CPUs was impossible. The first truly usable version of Windows would be version 3.1.

Meanwhile, IBM continued the OS/2 project, producing several realeases of a very good system, about as powerful as Unix, but optimized for the PC platform, and able to run Windows applications in "compatibility mode". Microsoft's "Windows release 4" project dragged out, eventually to be released as "Windows 95". A billion dollars of advertizing went into persuading people not to buy OS/2 release 3 (Warp), but wait for Windows-95.

Like many others, I was so disgusted by Microsoft's business practices, that I insisted on running OS/2 on my home computer. But after two years, I've mostly succumbed. I now run Windows 95/98 most of the time. That does not mean I love it. Some things are just beyond fixing

What Needs Improving ?

If you want to run Windows on a home system, get Windows 98 Second Edition. But beware: Windows system CDs come in three different flavors: Windows tends to periodically (at least every other year) need a major cleaning, which is most easily performed by booting from the "Windows boot floppy", renaming C:\WINDOWS to C:\OLD-WIN and installing Windows and all your programs from scratch. This is painful, but when all else fails, it often fixes a machine that has become slow and / or started crashing every half hour for no reason that makes sense.

Software Installed on MY Windows System

Where to Download Improvements

Even in the Windows world, there are pleanty of people making software available, either for free use, or on the "try it and pay us if you like it" principle of shareware.
Revision history:
	$Log: windows.htm,v $
	Revision 1.9  2003/01/03 16:27:56  lars
	*** empty log message ***
	Revision 1.8  2000/07/07 15:27:18  lars
	Added overviews of PDP-11 and VAX families.
	Added overview of x86 architecture.
	Added links about Algol
	Added flavors of windows CDs to windows overview
	Added list of programs that WIndows needs
	Revision 1.7  1999/11/10 07:48:31  lars
	Added new links.
	Revision 1.6  1999/11/08 16:46:34  lars
	More computer history links.
	Revision 1.5  1999/09/23 06:56:03  lars
	Move links from bookmark file intop relevant pages.
	Revision 1.4  1999/07/31 01:18:52  lars
	dded more web resource links
	Revision 1.3  1999/07/21 17:19:11  lars
	Add page for Linux, BeOS. Update Windows page.
	Revision 1.2  1999/06/26 22:17:44  lars
	Site re-organization.