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Why New OSes Don't Catch On 350

Posted by timothy
from the same-reasons-restaurants-fail dept.
mopslik writes "OSNews has an interesting editorial discussing why smaller operating systems will have a hard time gaining popularity. Familiarity, developer participation, and market saturation are listed as reasons for failure. Although the article focuses mainly on Syllable and SkyOS, I'm sure there are countless other operating systems to which these arguments apply."
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Why New OSes Don't Catch On

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  • Duh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Willie_the_Wimp (128267) * <fred.garvin@gmSTRAWail.com minus berry> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:39PM (#12990215)
    This strikes me as one of those "duh...." type editorials. I have a deadline... I have to write *something*... Maybe no one will notice if I write about something obvious.

    It is a classic chicken and egg problem. Why would anyone other than a OS hobbyist (by definition a very small number) switch to an experimental OS? I would never switch a family member to a niche OS. When they ask me what I use at home, I may tell them about it, but even if they expressed interest would I not switch them over. The potential for unlimited phone calls is near 100%.

    Linux has the luxury of time, broad acceptance over a large geek audience, and the benefit of being one of the first successful open source, collaborative endeavors. Anyone trying to jump start the same thing now is in for astronomical challenges.

    Willie
    • Re:Duh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by toddbu (748790) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:04PM (#12990370)
      There's a real fine line between doing something that no one else is doing versus doing something because you don't like the way other people did it. I'd be open to switching my OS if a new OS did everything that my existing OS did *and* added a bunch of new stuff that made the effort worthwhile. My (admittedly limited) experience with alternative OS projects is that they're trying to solve problems that others have already solved. A new OS probably won't make that much of a difference to me.

      That being said, what's great about FOSS is that I can build on an existing platform. So if there's a *piece* of the system that I don't like then I can replace it but still build on all the hard work that others have contributed. The plethora of Linux distros is great because you can start with a baseline distribution and tweak it however you want. If you can find enough other people who share your values then you can build up a nice little community without too much trouble.

      • Re:Duh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jp10558 (748604) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:41PM (#12991164)
        Well, I don't know about doing All the existing one does, but certainly doing Almost all is important.

        For instance the reason many people switch to FireFox or Opera vs IE is because either one does ~98% of what IE does for the average user, *plus* much more in the in your face UI area - the area users are likely to notice (The quintessential Tabs and such).

        Many home users *could* switch over to Linux today, but it'd be painful. They'd lose a lot - I'd estimate about 50% functionality(Games, Hardware control programs for printers, UPS, etc), and 80% famaliariy(How installation goes, the little differences between OO.org and MS Office).

        I figure for any sort of mass exodus to another OS, we'd need to get the functionality to within 95% and the familarity near 80%. That's a long way to go, towards a moving target. I have my doubts we'll ever do that.

        However, there's another aspect. At some point, the hassles + price may start to tilt the balance. For instance, I really like eating at Red Lobster, and the price isn't too bad, but I almost never go there. Because of the minimum 30 minute wait, more often an hour. That kind of time will get me to try an unknown restaraunt, or even go to the Outback instead, even though it's totally different.

        MS Activation already pisses off a lot of people - I'm lucky because i got a site license from my college, and don't have to deal with a lot of the crap I see posted on the net. Increased DRM, more and more security breaches, and more and more load from the "protection" software + price for them may start to make people willing to change the way they think.

        Look at how hybrids are taking off in the US. If you're looking at saving $15 every fill up, many people start to take notice. And start to think, my SUV is nice, but I could be using that $60 or more a month for (Cable TV/New Shoes/New Game/Pay down loan/etc...).
        • Step by step (Score:4, Interesting)

          by RoLi (141856) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @05:34AM (#12992449)
          I figure for any sort of mass exodus to another OS, we'd need to get the functionality to within 95% and the familarity near 80%. That's a long way to go, towards a moving target. I have my doubts we'll ever do that.

          It will take some time, but in small steps it is coming along.

          The most important thing for the next 10 years is the adoption of the OASIS-format, which offers these advantages over .doc:

          • It's used by an office suite that is free as in beer, yet there is also a commercial variant available
          • It's used as default format by different office suites (OO and KOffice, hopefully Abiword will join in a couple of years)
          • It's an ISO-standard (= great for government contracts)
          • It's also a standard that will not change with every version. That's the biggest advantage.
          • It's available everywhere, not just on the latest versions of Windows. It's also available on older versions of Windows, Linux, MacOSX and Solaris
          • It's used by OO which is pretty good backwards-compatible to MSO

          Let's not forget that Microsoft cannot bundle MSOffice with Windows because almost half of their revenue is generated by it and doing so would put them deeply into the red. They also can't lower the price too much for the same reasons.

          So, yes it will take quite long (I'd say about 10 years) but OASIS will become the standard.

          Removing the Windows desktop domination will be the next step.

          • Re:Step by step (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jp10558 (748604)
            I'm just saying I think there is some serious overestimation as to how much Office contributes to Windows dominance.

            I'd say (well you come across this way) you think it's 85% of what keeps Windows dominant.

            I'd say it's more like 40%. You can run MS Office on Mac OSX and Linux(with crossover office) today, and there is no mass exodus. Also, about every office program I've seen, OO.org, Lotus SmartSuite, Etc... can open and save Office formats, not perfectly, but about as well as different versions of Offic
        • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by johansalk (818687)
          No, God, Please, NOT familiarity!
          One of the things that I dislike about KDE is that it tries to be too much like windows - so no, people are only going to get familiar with something just once, but will continue to use it time and again many, many times more. So usability - please abandon familiarity with windows and its problems and focus on usability. We need something *new* - NOT familiar.
      • Re:Duh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ProfaneBaby (821276) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:43PM (#12991170)

        There's a real fine line between doing something that no one else is doing versus doing something because you don't like the way other people did it. I'd be open to switching my OS if a new OS did everything that my existing OS did *and* added a bunch of new stuff that made the effort worthwhile. My (admittedly limited) experience with alternative OS projects is that they're trying to solve problems that others have already solved. A new OS probably won't make that much of a difference to me.


        This is usually the case, but some forks of existing code bases (consider dragonfly bsd [dragonflybsd.org]) are very talented developers who have ideas that can't possibly be worked into larger problems because of the disruption they would cause. DFBSD should be incorporating some "new" concepts that (as far as I can tell) aren't in ANY other OS. The other factors that came into play when the OS was started (much like the other BSD forks, the founder/leader was removed from an existing BSD project) seem to be mostly secondary to the technical goals.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @02:55AM (#12991945) Journal
        "I'd be open to switching my OS if a new OS did everything that my existing OS did *and* added a bunch of new stuff that made the effort worthwhile."

        I've took the liberty of adding the emphasis there.

        I think that's the crux of the problem, but also the most mis-understood part. That's the part that OS zealots love to mis-understand.

        Let me delve into the semantics a bit, just for the sake of making a point. I'm not picking on your phrasing or anything, I'm just explaining _why_ new OSes fail, and why even Linux is of zero interest to Joe Average.

        I don't think you mean literally "if the _OS_ did the same things". The OS taken by itself does actually very little, and is arguably the least important thing on a computer. The OS just loads and runs the applications, and provides some standard libraries and widgets. No more.

        It's _easy_ for an OS to provide basically the same functionality of the OS itself, or close enough. Writing a loader, scheduler and some widgets is _easy_, and indeed half the games out there basically come with their own implementation of all three. Anyway, very single alternative OS so far had no problems doing the same things that Windows does. Yet they failed. Because that's not really what matters. You can do only so much with _only_ the OS.

        I think what you really meant is "if I could get the same functionality out of my computer", which actually means the applications. E.g., you don't edit your digital photos with the OS core, and not even with MS Paint (that's an app, though), you use some program like PaintShop Pro, Photoshop or, if you're a masochistic cheapskate (yeah, I am one too) with the Gimp.

        That's really what you need to do everything you could do with your old OS: an equivalent of the applications too.

        That's the real entry barrier in the OS market. Writing a loader, a scheduler, a GUI and exporting some of that as libraries, is the easy part. But that doesn't even come close to letting you get the same use out of your computer. Also providing an equivalent to all the thousands of applications and games that exist for Windows, that's the hard part. That's where they fail.
      • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Elledan (582730)

        "There's a real fine line between doing something that no one else is doing versus doing something because you don't like the way other people did it. I'd be open to switching my OS if a new OS did everything that my existing OS did *and* added a bunch of new stuff that made the effort worthwhile. My (admittedly limited) experience with alternative OS projects is that they're trying to solve problems that others have already solved. A new OS probably won't make that much of a difference to me."

        Well, if y

      • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dalutong (260603)
        You are almost right on the money.

        Once a FOSS operating system reaching the same usability level of the proprietary OSs then the OS marketplace will really change.

        Why? Because once a FOSS OS takes off then there will be little or no compatibilty (read: migration) issues. People won't have to spend years trying to get to the same level of hardware support, etc. When this happens then the competition begins because people will actually have a CHOICE about what OS they use, because the foundation of the OS w
      • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by museumpeace (735109)
        TFA doesn't mention the vendor lock a certain proprietary OS has on applications. The lock is part marketing and part technology. The tecnology part is the lukewarm to downright hostile attitude of that proprietary OS vendor toward open API and FILE FORMAT standards for application classes the proprietary OS vendor did not even invent: word processors, spread sheets, business graphics. Most users need to get work done,not to hack...they couldn't care less what the os is if they know how to access, share
    • Re:Duh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:05PM (#12990375)
      Not only that, but SkyOS (one of the two the article focuses on) is closed source. It's not going to get that big, freedom happy crowd that Linux has. It's also got a very limited number of developers (mostly one).

      That is the large reason that Linux is taking over commercial Unixes, and with SkyOS not having this advantage I don't see what the incentive is to use it over Windows (its apparent target).

      Syllable is a completely different story.
    • Re:Duh.... (Score:2, Informative)

      by sycotic (26352)
      This strikes me as one of those "duh...." type editorials. I have a deadline... I have to write *something*... Maybe no one will notice if I write about something obvious.

      You just about had it, if you read this story:

      http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=11011 [osnews.com]

      Basically, he's new there and is writing his first article.

      I was shocked to see it on Slashdot, but then what can you do...
    • Re:Duh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vondo (303621) * on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:21PM (#12990458)
      Not to mention that Linux filled a real need. There were tons of Unix people who wanted to run something familiar on their PC. Linux was a way they could do that without shelling out a lot of money. In that since, Linux wasn't a "new" OS as much as a new implementation of an "old" OS.

      Now linux is in a position for a small number of converts from other OSes, but it needed the installed Unix user base to get to that point.

      • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        Not to mention that Linux filled a real need. There were tons of Unix people who wanted to run something familiar on their PC.

        Exactly. The article makes the same mistake that so many Linux zealots do -- they think that people can be persuaded to switch to a new operating system that (supposedly) isn't worse than they one they already have. People will switch to something _better_, not to something that isn't worse.

        Linux caught on because it was _better_ for a large number of users, who no longer had to Ke

        • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          Well, I think that may have explained some of the very first Linux users. But I honestly think that many Linux users are like me, somebody who has never seen a Unix machine and want to switch from Windows because of various reasons. I switched because of stability issues and also a little out of curiosity to be 100% honest. For me, Linux *is* just another consumer desktop.
      • Re:Duh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:03AM (#12991248) Homepage
        Not to mention that Linux filled a real need. There were tons of Unix people who wanted to run something familiar on their PC. Linux was a way they could do that without shelling out a lot of money. In that since, Linux wasn't a "new" OS as much as a new implementation of an "old" OS.

        Actually, it was even more than that.

        In the early days of Linux, if you wanted a decent working environment, Windows wasn't really up to snuff. A Linux machine had better multi-tasking, used a smaller memory footprint, and way better VM handling --- and if you've ever tried to use the small memory model in DOS you know the limitations of it.

        I can remember running X-windows on an 8MB 486 machine. I could run LaTeX, several terminals over the same dialup session (mmmm, pr0n over 14.4K slip =), and I had a C environment that just worked. Plus xv, xfig, and a couple of other shineys.

        At the time it was filling a need of making better use of the hardware and letting you get access to software. Imagine a slackware CD full of goodies when a Windows machine had barely anything on it.

        This was in the Win 3.1 days, and it definitely wasn't a 'friendly' desktop, but it had more utility to it for our purposes. I remember several physicists I knew who got frustrated and switched to Linux because they could have LaTeX, gnuplot, and some numerical libraries.

        For anyone starting out with Linux in that timeframe, UNIX wasn't old, it was new and way more mature.

        Cheers
        • Re:Duh.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by nomadic (141991)
          I can remember running X-windows on an 8MB 486 machine. I could run LaTeX, several terminals over the same dialup session (mmmm, pr0n over 14.4K slip =), and I had a C environment that just worked. Plus xv, xfig, and a couple of other shineys.

          Hell I remember running animated, scrolling wallpaper on a 486 6mb machine. You're right, in those days Linux was incredibly far ahead of anything else available. Windows closed the gap in recent years, though obviously it hasn't caught up.
    • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:24PM (#12990475) Journal
      I've used a couple of niche OS's - PalmOS was clunky but had good applications on it, the Psion 3A's OS was a lot smoother and everybody really raved about the 32-bit version on the Psion 5, but alas, while the hardware was nearly bulletproof, after about the tenth time you drop it onto concrete the hinges eventually die. I'm not a gamer, so I don't have game-console OS's. MacOS? Sure, if I wanted everything to be pretty-looking and Just Work.

      But why would I put a niche OS on PC hardware? Niche Linux distributions like MythTV, maybe, or LTSP lightweight distros designed to use old hardware as a thin client, or LiveCD OpenBSD firewall things or whatever.) Emulators for other hardware environments, maybe (one of the Psion development environments booted from PC MS-DOS mode, and I gather there are some gamer emulators that do similar things, and you used to need to run DOOM in MS-DOS instead of Windows to get native hardware access or something.)

      Pen-based OS's were the last niche OS I saw that looked really interesting as a user - though they could just as well be a user interface on top of a full-featured operating system, and of course they choked and died and were replaced by PalmOS and Wince. QNX has always been somewhat interesting as hacker environment, because it's real-time, blazingly fast, and fits inside the Level 1 cache on your older CPU, though the last time I tried it it didn't have a driver for my Ethernet cards and was therefore pretty useless.

      Any OS that wants me to spend time installing it had better have a lot of interesting features, or a few VERY interesting features, and it needs to run on a LiveCD (or floppy) on an older PC like a Pentium133 with 64MB RAM, because I'm not going to scrag my main machine to play with it. Neither of these includes a Reality Distortion Field, so their web pages need to actually say why they're interesting - and they don't. Syllable provides no obvious value - its web page says it's a fork off a 3-year-old PersonalEgoOS and doesn't say why it's more interesting than a well-supported OS. SkyOS looks like it has a screenshot tour and an 18MB AVI video tour, but it's too slashdotted to actually display those things, and screenshots might tell me why I want a new wallpaper or window manager but aren't the same as telling me what the OS *does* that's interesting - telling me that they'd like to offer a bounty for getting somebody to port OpenOffice just means they're running behind Linux and the BSDs - ZZZZ.

      • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:32PM (#12990525) Journal
        One Niche OS I'd happily run on something if it were vaguely finished is EROS-OS [eros-os.org], the Extremely Reliable Operating System, a capability-based operating system that Jon Shapiro worked on. The security possibilities make it highly interesting, and it's designed so you can do things like unplug the machine in the middle of a calculation, plug it in again, and have it start up where it left off. And Plan 9 and its successors were designed for scalability and resource-location transparency.

        Both of these OS's were designed in a deep academic environment to be able to do really interesting things, and they're fundamentally different from just building Yet Another Unix-like thing with a window system on it (ok, Plan 9 did evolve from Unix, and does have an aggressively different window system, but it's not just random me-too-ism.)

        • Wouldn't it either have to be real slow writing everything every step of the way to disk, or basically need special hardware?

          Plus, for $120 or so, I can have a UPS for any OS I want on a standard home PC, and get about the same thing.
        • by surprise_audit (575743) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:49AM (#12991415)
          EROS-OS sounds similar to the original Tandem Non-Stop machines. Supposedly a box with only, say, 4 cpus could be configured as if it had some higher number, then when you needed more processing power, you just slap in an extra cpu card. The OS would go, "Hey look, that cpu just came back online, here's some work". The reverse was supposed to be true, too - just pop out a running cpu and the OS would simply quit sending work to it. I guess there may have been a "nice" way to inform the OS of the changes, but it was supposed to be resilient enough to handle it the hard way.

          I first heard about Tandem from a friend. He saw them at a computer show in London. During the computer show, there was another show, the Ideal Home Exhibition, going on elsewhere in the same building. I guess there wasn't a whole lot of effective power conditioning going on in the building, because every time the sales droids in the Ideal Home expo cranked up washing machines, dishwashers and other power equipment, every computer at the computer show would crash. The sole exception being the Tandem booth - it just kept on trucking while everyone else was rebooting...

        • From an email I received 2/8/2005:

          Ben:

          Our work on EROS has ceased, because we came to realize that there was
          important stuff we had missed. The first steps towards a successor,
          Coyotos, can be found at <a href="http://www.coyotos.org./">http://www.coyotos .org./</a> My hope is that some
          early version of Coyotos will be running quickly, as we aren't trying to
          do much fundamental research on the kernel architecture per se, but it's
          been slow going so far.

          shap

          EROS looks pretty dead. Try Coyotos

    • Thank you for spelling "hobbyist" right.
    • Pffft...

      And the guys running Cyber 360s thought they were all that too!

      Linux will have its time, but it would be foolish to think it'll NEVER fall out of usage!

      Possibly, when some new computing paradigm like quantum computing catches on, we'll design an even more appropriate interface and call it Quantix, and it will have not too much in common with Linux ...
    • by jd (1658)
      If a person is using a device (typically) or a computer for a very limited range of things, then they would presumably want an OS that did those few things VERY well, rather than everything just about OK. Specialization can mean optimization. It can also mean a simpler OS which means greater stability and security.

      So, I think there are cases where that is exactly what is wanted.

      Then, you have the case of a purely modular OS - think Linux but where EVERYTHING is a module. There, you have the above benef

  • Apps... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dhakbar (783117) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:39PM (#12990217)
    I can't imagine anything new taking off without a suitable suite of applications for the most common applications, at the very least.
    • Re:Apps... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by popechunk (863629)
      It's too bad java sucks, because something like that could really lower the barrier for adoption for new OSes.
    • Re:Apps... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ArsonSmith (13997)
      It's not apps. To quote Curly, "One thing." It only takes One thing to make an OS catch on. That one thing has to be needed and has to be failed in other OSs. Linux caught on solely because it was open and unencumbered. It gave a path way to get enough people to cause critical mass and it grew up into a mainstream system.

      No matter what you have ot have that "One thing" that will bring the OS to enough people that they'll start useing it for the other general computing tasks that all OSs do. Failing t
  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:40PM (#12990223)
    If the Sky OS is falling and no one is around to hear it, does it make a Syllable?
  • by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:41PM (#12990231) Homepage
    I bought BeOS awhile back and used it for a little while. The reason I switched back is because it just seemed like a waste of my new computer to run an OS that I couldn't really run any software on. I think new OSes might catch on if they're marketed more toward people who don't want to upgrade their computers and still have a speed boost running an OS that isn't as bloated as the mainstream ones.
    • I bought BeOS awhile back

      I'm really curious as to what it was about BeOS that would make you want to part with your hard-earned money to buy a copy. Was there some feature of the OS that you felt made it worth the cash?

      • by suraklin (28841) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:43PM (#12990601)
        I cannot answer for anyone else but I read your post and decided to put in my $.02.

        I personally bought BeOS 4 after trying out the bootable demo cd that was available at the time.

        When I loaded the demo I went from BIOS to full useability in under 20 seconds, so I thought that was pretty cool.

        My BeOS machine was an extra computer at I had laying around. After a few weeks of using the OS and finding I could do mostly everything I did on my windows box(email,websurf,rip mp3s,listen to said mp3s with the wonderful soundplay) I decided to move the HDD into my main computer and dual boot windows and Be. For about a year I used BeOS a majority of the time.

        I will admit there was one reason I never gave up Windows totally for Be...games. I liked a lot of the freeware games for Be, mostly puzzle games but none of the mainstream dev houses would port for it. I finally had to give up on Be after OS5 came out and they took more out than they put in. I think I enjoyed it most for the potential it had, probably the same reason I still have and Amiga 500 in a corner that still gets used.
      • BeOS displayed something that MS's current offerings, Win95 (ugh) & Win98(double ugh), did not:speed and stability. If BeOS did crash, so what, a reboot would take ten seconds. Apps loaded amost instantly. Most webpages were still just text & images-scripting was not ubiquitous-so you could get by with BeOS's browser. KDE, Gnome, fvw95(sp) I did not find stable or very usable back then, IMHO, so BeOS compared to other offerings was enticing and I thought it has a bright future, or at least it wo
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:13PM (#12990415) Homepage Journal
      I think new OSes might catch on if they're marketed more toward people who...
      No matter how well they're marketed, people won't use them for the same reason you gave up on BeOS: nobody's writing software for it. And nobody will write software for an OS until it has users. Catch 22 [wikipedia.org].

      This problem has been obvious every since Microsoft started dominating the desktop OS market 20+ years ago, destroying a half-dozen competing (and mostly superior) platforms in the process. Yet people continue to insist that a new OS (or an old one [wikipedia.org] with a few tweaks) can magically get past the no users/no developers/no users paradox just by virtue of being technically superior. A tribute to wishful thinking, I guess.

  • Obviousman (Score:4, Funny)

    by shikra (751390) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:45PM (#12990256) Journal
    Thanks obviousman!
    • by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:46PM (#12990632) Homepage
      The correct name is "Captain Obvious". Pay more attention please! :)
  • by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:45PM (#12990257)
    If it doesn't support my hardware, well, I'm simply not interested.
    • by Sinus0idal (546109) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:59PM (#12990336)
      Indeed, I think this article is pretty redundant to be honest. The top of the syllable news on the homepage states that PPP support has now been added to the OS. Now, call me a whiner, but how many people do you think are going to use an OS that has only just managed to get PPP support? Is such an OS really going to be capable of the day to day tasks of the majority of todays computer users? Users who won't even know what PPP is? No, won't even know what a modem is? Oh, but according to the news blurb, dial-up support isn't available yet anyway..

      I mean, come on.

      • I think these efforts are great. I realize that everyone here probably already has a bias, but let's not forget about what motivates people - one source of motivation is passion.

        If someone were to take an old junker (car) and rebuild it in his/her garage, tinkering a bit here, a bit there, eventually there might be something really worthy to show for it. Even if there isn't, so what? Perhaps the joy is in the process, and not necessarily the result.

        Code on Syllable, SkyOS.
    • Nope All the drivers in the world dont help. Even with a computer that is recognized by linux I would never install a current version for my parents. They would go insane trying to install software. It's a big honking mess.

      The big factor is how much a user can get done without touching a book. And as much as I use Linux, Windows is an easier beast. Macintosh is a simple machine to use, but I miss the right mouse button.

      Here is the crux, if you can put a machine together that a novice can take

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:45PM (#12990258)
    The article misses the point that Operating Systems are just tools that allow us to use programs. And programs are about being able to get useful stuff done.

    People still use the Atari ST (mainly the emulator version) to do music, because there are useful applications there.

    For the most part, people really don't care what OS they are using, just as long as they can accomplish whatever tasks they need to do.
  • Functionality (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blackpaw (240313)
    IMHO the biggest barrier is the necessary functionality in both the op.sys and applications.

    New systems today have a much high bar of functionality than the operating systems of yore - Office suite, drivers, games and compatibility.

    Sadly, I think the boat for new operating systems has sailed.
  • Getting Used to (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jeet81 (613099) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:46PM (#12990265)
    Switching OS's is like switching the gas and brake pedal of a car for the average user. Computer geeks can handle a OS change and get used to it but it's hard for the average person to try and understand and navigate through a new OS. So since they were brought up on a windows OS in school/college, they tend to stick to it.

    --
    Free Credit Report Info [mycreditreportinfo.com]

  • My current one works fine, the new one requires hours upon hours of configuration and getting familiar, and even then most of the stuff I'd like to run doesn't run on it. Can't imagine why they don't take off.
  • Meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:48PM (#12990278)
    Give me a fucking break. SkyOS hasn't caught on because it's closed source and you have to pay for the beta.

    Syllable hasn't caught on because they haven't appeared to have done anything of note since the AtheOS developer quit and they forked it.
  • by PornMaster (749461) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:50PM (#12990291) Homepage
    People who start projects to write a new OS do so for a reason that's less than compelling for the general public. Someone writing a new OS to scratch an itch isn't any reason for me to care about it. If it's something someone's doing to learn, that means nothing to me in terms of running it. If someone's talented enough to innovate something truly novel, wouldn't it make more sense to implement that bit within one of the currently active OS projects? If the idea's got real merit, and can be plugged into the rest of a system that everyone's using (like implementing a new scheduler -- it can be done as a patch to Linux... and if it's really better, it will get noticed and maybe put into the kernel tree).

    Going off and starting a new OS seems like a silly waste of resources in most cases.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:49PM (#12990643)

      If someone's talented enough to innovate something truly novel, wouldn't it make more sense to implement that bit within one of the currently active OS projects? If the idea's got real merit, and can be plugged into the rest of a system that everyone's using (like implementing a new scheduler -- it can be done as a patch to Linux... and if it's really better, it will get noticed and maybe put into the kernel tree).

      Speaking as someone who fixed more than a dozen critical bugs in {Free,Open,Net}BSD kernel code over the last 10 years I have come to abandon both my dreams of starting my own OS and having my changes incorporated into my favorite BSD OS. The thing is that when you start fixing bugs which were introduced by some established coder who suffers from the NIH syndrome and this person starts to disrespect and ignore you, the whole community starts following suit and your patches are soon left to collect dust in the PR database. In the end it's all about ego, politics and personal arguments, if they don't like you for some reason your patches will be left out in the cold, even if they would fix some critical problems. When you come up with something innovative and discuss it on the mailing lists they will ignore you or they will argue against your propositions. Then two weeks later you see some committer who never even participated in the discussion commit code which basically implements some of those same ideas which were mocked and rejected by the community. They don't mention you in the Copyright notice, you can't get any credit and they won't commit your code to the CVS source tree. So what do you do? Fork off and start your own BSD? Maybe if you're Matt Dillon. I can't afford the overhead associated with that kind of project and I doubt I'd get more than 2 other experienced developers to join the project. I could get my main ideas implemented within 6 to 8 months, but after that I don't really have a plan for where the project should go. I'd have to play catch-up with the BSD I would use as a basis and after a while they'd incorporate some of my code, but not in the way I would like them to and my project would be dead in less than 2 years.

      I have come to hate the politics and the hypocrisy in most of the open source OS communities and I have seen so many talented people quit BSD development for similar reasons that I'm so burned out I doubt I will ever submit another patch or suggestion on how to fix something. Instead I'm just going to spend more time working on the commercial projects. They don't just put food on the table, but the people I do them for also appreciate them and give me the proper respect. Sorry about ranting, I just had to get that off my chest.

      • by master_p (608214) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @05:45AM (#12992474)
        The exact same thing goes on in every open source project, either O/Ses, game libraries, generic libraries etc. I expected a better quality of people in open source projects, because I naively thought that open source programmers will be more idealistic.

        What I found greatly shocked me. Open source programmers are like politicians: once they are successful, they protect their position in every way possible, without hesitating to publically embarrass you in forums, even if you explain to them with a million arguments that their piece of code is wrong.

        I had such an experience with a gaming programming library (it's name starts with A..., and the word is of Latin origin). The library's forums are basically 'run' by a few people in the same way that Mafia runs its business: if you want in, you have to kiss the boss' hand. If you don't, then every comment you make will be used against you, they will humiliate you in public, and you will be banned for just daring to disagree and present your arguments. There are a bunch of people playing the leaders, and all the rest follow with sheep mentality. Let me give you an example: one of the "leaders" posted a library add on for 2d parallax scrolling that run in 30 FPS; I took the code and made it run in over 70 FPS; instead of the community being happy that such a good piece of code existed, I was told to "play with the program" and "show my respect", otherwise I would be banned! After that (and lots of other things), I quitted not only participating in the forums but basically gave up any plans of offering work for the open source world. It is just so much hypocrisy around, that I now think (and you may laugh about it) that humanity is doomed to self destruction with such attitude.

        By the way, that library has been in version 4 for quite a few years, with an API good enough for DOS but not for modern O/Ses like Windows or Linux. There was a try to modernize it, but version 5 died a painful death due to 'internal politics' (i.e. its developers all wanted the biggest share of the fame pie, so the project naturally died).

        I too apologise for the bitterness, but I had to say it, because I consider it totally stupid for humanity to act like that. We can accomplish great things working together, but it seems noone wants them unless they are the protagonists.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:51PM (#12990296) Homepage
    Maybe not a "hard and fast" rule, but the issue of lack of developers often leads to an OS that has potential, but never matures to a stable usable state. Also, there is a big difference between general purpose OS and special purpose OS.
  • by greg_barton (5551) * <(greg_barton) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:52PM (#12990300) Homepage Journal
    The real question isn't "why don't they catch on?"

    It's "why do they ever catch on?"

    Changing your OS changes everything about your computing environment. It's like saying, "I know you like this air stuff you're breathing, but...wanna to try this nifty hyper-oxygenated liquid to breathe? It has so many advantages, and it's really cool!"

    Would you make the switch?
    • by mopslik (688435) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:08PM (#12990388)

      Changing your OS changes everything about your computing environment.

      "Everything" is a rather broad statement. When I switched my main machine from Windows to SuSE/KDE, most things worked in nearly identical ways. Click an icon to start a program, drag-and-drop things to folders or applications, even Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V to cut/paste works in nearly all applications. As for the applications themselves, I use OpenOffice.org, GIMP, Firefox... all of the same apps that I run on my Win2K machine at work.

      Software installation was a semi-major difference, albeit an easy one to get used to. Manual hardware configuration is a bit tricky, but I rarely change components, so I only have to do it once. The rest was fairly trivial.

  • Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrCopilot (871878) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:53PM (#12990305) Homepage Journal
    They were for the PC.

    If you want develop new OS. Embedded OS is the only way to go. We evaluate them all, ALWAYS. You will NEVER change the desktop OS.

    Bill, Steve, Linus and a few thousand others have it covered. But if you wanna change the device interface, go ahead, roll it up again.

    I personally choose Linux for many reasons. But if NEWOS works, and fits, and is reliable, and is FREE, I'll look at it and still probably choose Linux. If the device can't take Linux it really isn't my project at this point. But, I would hand it off to another engineer, with my recommendation of the new OS.

  • Same thing. I've seen scores of really good restaurants fail not because of quality, but because of bad timing, a bad review by an incompetent reviewer, bad weather, an unrelated E.coli outbreak, etc.

    We'd all like to think that quality == success, but luck seems to be the real player.

  • Maybe it's because (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jim_v2000 (818799) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:58PM (#12990331)
    Trying to dislodge entreched giants when you're the little guy is near impossible...?

    Serious, you could have a product 100 times better than Windows, but it would barely see the light of day because Windows is known, trusted (even if wrongly trusted), and has excellent marketing that would squelch your product.
  • Ignoring the obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @08:59PM (#12990337)
    It seems that the most obvious problem these niche OSes face is completely ignored by the article. There has to be a compelling reason to switch - something that an alternative OS provides that's significantly better than "mainstream" offerings.

    * Windows offers broad compatibility due to its dominant market share. You buy software or hardware off the shelf and can pretty much assume it will work.

    * OS X offers (currently) freedom from viruses and trojans, the availability of mainstream software tools, and access to arguably superior creative software.

    * Linux offers power and configurability; plus it appeals to many people philosophically.

    Yes, I read the article; but please don't hold that against me.
  • Applications. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:00PM (#12990348) Homepage Journal
    Unless you are a special purpose OS (Embedded, Real Time, designed for certain classes of server etc.) what you really need to gain any sort of user base is applications. Very few people are interested in running an OS that doesn't have applications to do most of the the things they would like to do - and that's harder than it sounds: Yes, most people mostly just use web and email and word processing, but most people also usually have some other small niche application that they want to use as well; To get the broad userbase you need to support all those different small niche applications.

    Look at it another way: What OSs have actually managed to gain some level on general support? Windows, obviously, then OS X, Linux and *BSD, and maybe you could throw in Solaris. After that you are into rather more niche material (like AIX, HP-UX, UNICOS etc.) designed for servers and the like. What do those OSs have in common? The ability to provide a wealth of appliations - though they do it by different means:

    Windows - through ubiquity and market share: everyone writes apps for Windows.

    OS X - by being able to promise application developers a market: Apple has always had a fairly solid hold on the graphics and design market, and enough general use that they can convince developers to write stuff for the Mac.

    Linux and BSD - By being open source, and winning the open source market share. That is Linux and BSD are ubiquitous amongst open source developers - it's the Windows of the open source world.

    Solaris - Well, it's more filling the niche big server market and any ability to cling to the desktop/workstation is by co-opting open source applications, which Sun have done a decent job of.

    If a new OS (or some of those radical "Let's make Linux ultra standardised and easy like OS X" ideas) comes along it has to be able to attract applications: that means support open source applications for Linux and BSD with only a recompile, or be able to promise a guaranteed decent sized market of users to any potential app developers. The latter is very hard, and the former has the diffiulty of competing with the established Linux and BSDs.

    Unless someone manages something truly radical I really don't expect anything but evolutionary changes in the existing OSs from here...

    Jedidiah.
  • Pining... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by writermike (57327) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:05PM (#12990372)
    I also detect a little pining, too.

    Reading the various systems on oldcomputers.com, one realizes that it wasn't that long ago when nearly every new computer had its own OS. And each OS had its advantages and disadvantages and each one had a decent shot at becoming popular. The advocacy that sprouted up around each particular flavor du machine was always fun for a time.
  • People are lazy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Maxwell'sSilverLART (596756) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:15PM (#12990425) Homepage

    People don't adopt new OSes because they are lazy, and learning a new OS takes work.

    Seriously--my dad just bought a new iBook, after using 'doze all his life, and quit using it after just a few weeks because it was, in his words, "too much work" to learn the new system.

  • Like cars; all cars use the same location for the the acelerator pedal, and the brake pedal, and the spedometer is right there looking at you.

    With computer OS design, the first thing that they do is make it all different, in some way. Not just make the window border different, make the whole thing different enough that only a geek would know what to do.

    With this much change how is any of it going to help any one but people who are in the business?
  • mopslik writes "OSNews states the obvious."
  • by patio11 (857072) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:24PM (#12990476)
    "What can I get here, that I'm not getting now?"

    Why did I switch from IE to Firefox? Tabbed browsing, no popups, security. Firefox gave me something that I wasn't getting right then, and I didn't give up anything I was using.

    Why do I use Linux for development? To have a rock solid system with fine-grained control of my development environment, and built-in, easy to use tools to automate the tedious parts of the job, like text processing.

    Why do I use Windows at home? Because no acceptable substitute exists for playing World of Warcraft, etc.

    Why didn't I switch my development machine from Linux to an untried OS? I don't know, you tell me, what does your OS do better than Linux that justifies me abandoning the comfort of having a million-hacker install base I can ask questions to when the box blows up and download software from when it doesn't?

  • Explaining why things can't work is an excuse for their not working. Anything, Anything that does something that people need significantly better, will gain a following and can succeed on its own terms. The important thing for innovators to succeed in their innovations, is to identify the things that are truly desired and then do the hard work to do them better.

    Case and point Symbian is kicking windows ce smart phones rear. I don't know many people that use windows for real time applications. ( I did onc
  • It would have been nice if the article actually said something about the operating systems. This reads like a 4th grade book report.

    Cliff Notes version:
    "There are many operating systems. Some are very popular and I can name them. Others are less popular (and legacy in some cases). And there is a whole flock of "hobbyist" operating systems that are the point of this article, but I've got no substantive information about them, such as why you might want to check into them. But I do know the names!"
  • Ha. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by william_w_bush (817571) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:27PM (#12990498)
    This does not need an article, the answer is simple:
    Lack of simple, shared application models.

    If all a person needs is web-browsing, almost any os will do, but the point of a general-purpose computer is that its general purpose, and you can use it however you like. Simple app models become more specialized, and the network access anything anywhere model becomes the use linux for io or server app x, windows for gui app y, and maybe a mac for design/pub app z, cause those are the platforms specialized for each.

    These are generalizations by the way, so the 50 people lining up to flame me can chill a sec. I have one of each machine running right now, and though I can do nearly everything on each of them, when it comes down to it sometimes I just need to switch over to one to get the job done. Try burning dvds the way you want (verified and with different formats) well without mac toast(or PIM stuff), or playing quickly with files on a network share without a set of linux terminals (never found a good term on a mac, and I hate winSMB, bleh), or watching funny(wmv/bad mp4) video encodes/playing games without windows.

    Yes, I could probably use 1 system for all these things, but if I ever wanted to play games or prog VC++, Id need windows with a linux server, and well that just sucks, esp with 2 screens.

    Its really the application holes that define OSs more than the functionality. A lack of MS Word(tm) is more likely to hold back Joe User from linux more than its incredible bounty of emacs plugins. On the other hand I gave my wife a mac mini, and never seen her so happy with a computer before.
  • From the article:

    "Because it is closed-source, they will more easily be able to focus on their goals. When something needs to be done, there won't be endless mailing-list threads and forum discussions before someone actually writes down some code. When the SkyOS team decides that feature X must go in, it goes in. That is a major advantage over open development constructions because it can speed up the development process."

    I don't see how being closed source automatically frees the developers from any disc
  • Steve Jobs Said.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by haakondahl (893488)
    ...a long time ago that his NeXT business would either be the last computer maker to succeed, or the first to fail outright*. Oddly enough, it was both. * [Wild paraphrase]
  • Until we have really good open-source emulators (or API translators like Wine) that work on any platform and run any program, it'll be very difficult to get anything else off the ground at this point with any kind of saturation.

    There's no point in running any OS really if you have to constantly switch back to another OS to do any meaningful work. This is the biggest obstacle to adoption.
  • OS's don't catch on for the same reason new doesn't catch on. For the same reason most resturants fail and half of all marriages fail and 99% of every life form that ever was is extinct. Mostly everthing fails, collapses, dies or is left in the dust for no obvious reason.
  • by geekee (591277) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:39PM (#12990572)
    Economists talk about natural and artificial barriers to entry in markets, that produce monopolies. An artificial barrier is usually due to govt. regulation. OS's have a natural barrier to entry since customers number 1 concern with a new OS is that it runs their existing software. So, to start a new OS, you need at minimum to get software vendors to port their software to your OS. An even better scenario is if your OS can run existing binaries. If you don't run existing software, you'll need to find a niche market who don't care about existing products for the app you're supporting
  • What about the effect of Live CDs? These new OSes have something that Windows and Linux didn't have when they first began--a CD that can boot the OS and let you check it out without installing it first. This allows proponents of an OS to easy show off its capabilities.
  • also want to add- I think developers writing new general-purpose OSes from scratch may be slightly misguided. With hardware speeds reaching infinity as prices approach zero, coming up with an OS that handles thread scheduling & semaphores slightly faster than Linux, OS X or Windows isn't exactly going to change the world. Almost every component underlying the OS right now is commodity & freely available--network stacks, VPNs, IO, file systems, etc. Why keep reinventing this stuff?

    The real room f
  • Java VM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fredrickleo (711335) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @09:59PM (#12990699) Homepage
    It seems to me that the most promising thing to help a new OS would be porting a Java VM to it. This obviously would open up the platform to all the java software out there. But less obvious is the fact that your OS is no longer subject to the chicken and the egg problem. People will be writing java software for other platforms for a long time and it will work on your OS without so much as a recompile (in a perfect world). The true nature of java would be realized and people's underlying OS's could compete and be chosen for performance, stability, security, etc.
    • Re:Java VM (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shish (588640)
      And all the other platform independent languages (perl, python)... but then when all your apps are from other OSes and the only thing that makes your OS different is the kernel (which you can't see), what's the point?
  • For most people they want to run certain applications if you can't on the OS then it is a VERY tough sell (Linux may run Officeish stuff but there still aren't any printshop and other bits people like to run).

    Cost & Usability

    This goes together, and is my reason why Amiga died, Amiga's OS was pretty slick but when you got it out of the box you could do practicallty NOTHING with it, everything you WANTED to do with it cost money and was hard to locate a vendor to sell it to you, wanted to do a little word processing? You need to buy Word Perfect or Final Copy (proably get more memory too), wanted to Surf the internet? You needed to buy a TCP-IP stack and then also buy a browser! Apple realized that having included internet suport would gain it share, and MS did too soon after, but others were still in the tollbooth-OS mode. Also if you bught an iMac you got Appleworks and on sone Windows boxes like eMachines you got Works, which also made those systems "usable" out of the box.

    Accessibility

    This is what killed Ti 99/4A, when you lock up everything that makes a computer programmable and then also charge for an SDK will scare off your hobbiest msrket, without that you loose the grass-roots eforts to cover some of the OS weaknesses when the companies are dragging their own feet. Windows had an in with BASIC included, Apple charged for all developemnt tools early on, now it's a little better for Mac/Wint but now here's Linux which offers some really kick-butt tools right on the Distro CDs, that is a big reasone why Linux is growing so fast, the tools are there for the average Joe to make something with thier system.

    Versatility

    Other die becasue they just can't do everything (linux had until the past couple years suffered from due to that. partly because of lack of drivers other times because the disconnect of the OS vs. the GUI vs. the printing drivers.). If an OS has definate weakspots in either IO, sound, video, printing, memory/disk usage, etc. you will get hopefully a vertical market but probably won't replace the home PC. The reason why Windows and Mac are so popular is they can do just about everything and when a new technology comes out it is expeted they will be able to do that too.

    • Cost & Usability

      This goes together, and is my reason why Amiga died, Amiga's OS was pretty slick but when you got it out of the box you could do practicallty NOTHING with it, everything you WANTED to do with it cost money and was hard to locate a vendor to sell it to you, wanted to do a little word processing?

      IIRC, all computers at the time were basically like that - even Windows 3.11 computers. At best, you had a simple text editor and the other minimalistic software - everything else had to be

  • by linguae (763922) on Tuesday July 05, 2005 @11:22PM (#12991091)

    Over the years there have been many great OSes that now see little use. NeXTSTEP/OPENSTEP, BeOS, and Plan 9 are very nice operating systems. *STEP is the direct ancestor of Mac OS X and brought a lot of new, innovative features to operating systems, such as Display Postscript (predecessor of Quartz), Interface Builder (predecessor of XCode), the dock, etc., not to mention boatloads of innovative software packages (such as Mathematica, Lotus Improv, and the entire Lighthouse Design software collection) and it showed the world how Unix for the masses should be built (which KDE and GNOME still have lots of catching up to do). BeOS has a nice infrastructure (compared to other OSes of the time like Mac OS 8/9 and Windows 9x), and is easy to use. Plan 9 is a different beast altogether compared to the other OSes that I mentioned; Plan 9 takes Unix's idea of "everything is a file" to another level; for example, the window manager supports pipes and filters just like any other traditional command line program. And all of the operating systems can run on any old 486 or Pentium.

    What happened to all of these OSes? NeXT was bought by Apple (and didn't release a version of Mac OS X for commodity x86 machines, for obvious business reasons), BeOS's parent company was going through business issues and ended up being discontinued, and Plan 9 is virtually unheard of unless you're an operating systems researcher. All three failed to make a big splash for various reasons. NeXT had the software, a supportive development group and development infrastructure (especially from Lighthouse Design and the Omni Group) and (for the first few years) had the hardware, but the x86+Windows juggernauts and the steep pricing were issues too huge to overcome for a lot of people, which ultimately led to NeXT's near demise (until NeXT bought Apple for -$400 million). BeOS had a nice infrastructure, but it didn't catch on because of Windows's mass acceptance in the marketplace, lack of huge productivity applications (which is caused by a lack of interested developers), and corporate drama. Plan 9 isn't replacing *nix because most of us "geeks" are very content with our beloved Unix (no matter how flawed it is sometimes) and see no need to change, and Plan 9 doesn't have all of the applications that users need (like productivity suites, for starters).

    Whether or not an operating system succeeds or not depends on user's acceptance and developer's acceptance. User's won't dump Windows/Mac OS for another OS until it is easy to use, has all of the applications that they need, comes at a reasonable price, and is compatible with whatever they used to use. Developers won't develop for a new operating system until development is relatively painless, comes at a reasonable price, doesn't require having to learn obscure programming languages and environments, and the developers feel like making their applications run on a new operating system would be beneficial to themselves.

    That's what happening to SkyOS and Syllable right now. Users from Windows/Mac/*nix see no compelling reason to switch (ranging from ease of use, hackability, and avaliable applications), and developers have no compelling reason to develop applications that will attract a lot of people to the platform (such as a productivity suite). An operating system that expects to be widely used cannot go far without important applications such as productivity applications. And an operating system without a huge amount of developers developing applications for it shouldn't expect to be going anywhere.

  • by Anna Merikin (529843) on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @12:56AM (#12991437) Journal
    ...in 1957 or thereabouts when I was a high school student (yes, I am retired now.) A GM spokesman on career day (I believe he came down from Detroit) flatly stated there will never be more than three viable motorcar manufacturers worldwide because "there isn't enough capital" to build a company to compete with them, Ford and Chrysler. Of the three, GM had more than fifty per cent market share.

    This was in precisely the same year that Soichiro Honda, who only recently had started a company that mated washing machine motors to bicycle frames, showed his first car at the Tokyo motor show, its chain drive revealing its origins.

    Talk about hubris!

    Based on this, I would rather predict dozens if not hundreds of dominant OSes in the next hundred years or less.
  • shallow depth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spoonyfork (23307) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (krofynoops)> on Wednesday July 06, 2005 @09:18AM (#12993466) Journal

    The writer didn't put his thinking cap on. People use new OSes all the time. Think about all the gadgets techies (and even non-techies) buy every couple years and how many different OSes are involved:

    • PDA
    • mobile phone
    • VOIP phone
    • mp3 player
    • digital camera
    • gaming console
    • broadband router/wireless access point
    • DVD/PVR device
    • vehicle (multiples within a single car)

    Chances are these are using OSes (sometimes very new) that people didn't use before the purchase. So what? The article seemed to focus on the desktop which is fine but that is only one OS out of dozens that people use every day. The desktop is arguably the most complex in terms of user interaction which leads it to be the something that people probably do not wish to keep remastering. I'm comfortable using several different desktop OSes and I still don't like to change my day-to-day computing environment. While the core of the issue from a user perspective may be a technical one at the convenience level the real issue is probably a marketing one. Plus, the licensing agreements between companies like Microsoft and Dell make it very difficult for another to get a foothold in the marketplace.

    The end result should be that you don't know what OS in your desktop the same way that most people don't know what OS in their mobile phone, PDA, or mp3 player. It should be transparent and a non-issue for users. It should just work -- no matter what it is.

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