Operating systems and the average user

  Valvegrid 17:44 30 Jul 2004

For those that have been following this thread in the helproom

click here

I have been thinking about the operating systems in general.

When I started using computers it was a time when we had Windows 3.11. We switched it on in the morning, used it all day and switched it off when we went home, I can't honestly remember a time when it froze, gave a BSOD or anything much, in fact we've still got a computer with 3.11 on it and it works exactly as it did when new.

Then over the years MS seemed to bring out ever more complicated O/S's to try and make it easier for the user, culminating in the present XP. This is all fine for the average user if XP is working, if however it decides to go wrong, the average user seems very ill equipped to deal with it themselves. The lucky few come to the PCA forum were there's a wealth of knowledge will to help, I should think an even larger number go to a dealer and have to pay to get their machine repaired.

All I want from an O/S is it to support the applications I want to run without interference. Just look at the dependencies that some Windows applications require to run, for instance the Office packages require some elements of IE for them to run, to say nothing of the fickle registry.

Rather than put everything on the O/S and default it on, why not distribute the core O/S and let the user decide what they want to install.

Needless to say I've installed Linux and I decide what I want to install on my machine. I just look down the list of applications I want to use and install them, if I don't want them, I remove them and the O/S doesn't get the hump.

I'm I being a bit simplistic? Would it be a backward step? what do you think?

  Dorsai 19:12 30 Jul 2004

I just remeber thay days of the ZX spectrum. The whole system was pre-built, and the OS was built in too.

If a program was written it either worked or it didn't. There was no chance of a program working with this card, but not that, as there was just the spectrum (that it had been written for), and that was it.

It was simplistic, but it did not jerk me about. the bits worked, or not. If not, you took them back, and they did not work on the computer in the shop, as the one in the shop was compleatly the same as mine.

  Valvegrid 20:25 30 Jul 2004

Good grief! I wasn't quite thinking of that simplistic, but yes I have to agree with you. Although I enjoyed those days, I don't think I'd like to go back.

There seems to be a period when O/S's worked well, they were functional they were fast and as an average user, I'm not really using any application now that I didn't use back in the late '80's early 90's, apart from the Internet. The only thing that seems to have happened is the applications have got more 'bells and whistles'

As a matter of interest, we have been using Boland DB IV database in DOS for the last ten years at work to manage our equipment maintenance. We purchased a dedicated Windows based system, having run the two side-by-side for the last two years. The conclusion of our lady is that she much prefers the DOS system. It's faster, it never crashes or freezes and because of the programming structure, we can maintain it ourselves for nothing.

The whole program takes up about 30MB and that includes the 10 years worth of data for 4800 items. If I need to run reports or advance search, we merely import it into MS Access or Excel. Our lady is an advance Windows user incidentally, so there's no question that if the Windows system was up to the job, she would use it.

  CurlyWhirly 22:00 30 Jul 2004


I have used XP for over 2 years and it hasn't let me down once yet!
The only time I have had a problem is when I have bought hardware with dodgy or old drivers like for example last week when I bought a Philips Sonic Edge sound card.

I installed it and every so often I got an error message which after typing the BSOD error into the Microsoft website I found out that the error was related to a faulty driver so I checked the date on my driver and found that it was dated october 2002.

This was quite old so I went to the manufacturers website and downloaded a newer version and ever since installing it I have not had any more trouble!
One other thing that I have trouble with in the past is spyware and trojans which i mainly caught from using P2P networks so i have since stopped using as this spyware was causing all sorts of connection problems as regards getting online.
Since giving up P2P I have managed to keep my PC (relatively) clean!

One final point to bear in mind is that PC users should use a backup program like Drive Image 7 or Norton Ghost and then if your PC does start playing up from anything to a virus wiping your hard drive to faulty operating system errors then all you need to do is restore the backup which takes me around 15 minutes at most.
Peace of mind in my opinion.

  LastChip 22:09 30 Jul 2004

I cannot see the use of umpteen Gigabytes of operating system just to run office applications.

I have said before (and at the risk of repeating myself!) I think Microsoft has lost the plot as far as simplistic office applications goes. Perhaps they think so too. Recently, they decided to offer a cut down version of XP to Thailand, as the folks there cannot afford the "normal" price of XP and Linux has been making inroads onto the desktop.

It's all very well having a multimedia centre, which in my opinion is what XP is, if it's for home use AND it's going to be used as such, but for the small office, it's similar to buying a Ferrari to do the daily shopping. What a waste of money! No wonder many companies are refusing to update from Win98.

  powerless 00:53 31 Jul 2004

Development, nuff said.

  Chegs ® 02:59 31 Jul 2004

This is something similar to a thread I was reading recently,where folk were stating their PC of yesteryear (@35Mhz CPU/8MB RAM,etc)did all it was asked to do,yet their latest PC has xGhz CPU,more RAM than the size of old PC's HDD,but still only did the same jobs,so they didn't need all the prettifying(<...is that a word?)as it just caused problems. :-)

  Forum Editor 11:34 31 Jul 2004

because it's something that interests us all - just why do modern operating systems have to be so incredibly complex?

Ask Microsoft that question, and you'll be told it's because of the increasing complexity of both the hardware and software that modern computers run, and to a very large extent it's true. Try using your Windows 3.11 computer on a wireless network or with a digital camera and you'll soon find out. Another major contributor to the system bloat has to be the constantly increasing need to guard against exploits - both from the Internet and from unauthorised users on a LAN or WAN.

The real culprit however has to be the need for a company like Microsoft to protect its revenue stream. There's no shame in this per se - all commercial operations face similar problems, and all of them take similar steps. The only difference with Microsoft is that the majority of the world's desktops are running Windows operating systems, and that means we're all in the same boat - we don't have that much choice when it comes to which product we'll buy. I don't want to open up the perennial Linux v MS debate by saying that, but it's true - most of us do not/will not use other systems for a variety of reasons.

Microsoft knows that it has brought the desktop operating system to a point where it can do pretty well everything we want it to do - there's simply nothing much else we need. That's a frightening prospect to a company which employs thousands of people directly and knows that hundreds of thousands (one of which is me)are indirectly relying on the company to generate a part or all of their income. The drive to produce ever more 'innovative' and sophisticated software is very strong, and Bill gates has recently said that the company will not be relying on its back-catalogue to provide revenues in the future. Billions of dollars are being pumped into Research and development, and you can bet your hard drive the result will be bigger and better (?) than ever before. We'll buy the new operating systems in our millions, and life will go on. All of us will complain that the software is too huge, too complex, too vulnerable, launched too soon, etc., etc., but it will never stop.

See you in a similar thread in ten years - we'll be saying much the same thing.

  Chegs ® 12:19 31 Jul 2004

"See you in a similar thread in ten years - we'll be saying much the same thing."

Its not ten years until Longhorn is due,is it?

  jack 14:10 31 Jul 2004

The sentiments expressed here are all valid.
My entry into Home computing was more then 10 years ago with an Atari ST520, which became a 1040 and then with a humungus jump with daughter boards and home made case a PAK.The O/S was on a chip[s] and at basic things like WP/DTP simple graphics there is even now, not a lot to choose- Ok ok No umtpy millions colours, but then thats is all electron trickery the printout is still a basic 4 colour process [with added tints]
Like wise you avarage machine in an office deldom goes wrong because complexities of O/S not with standing all it does is Mary's WP or Bill's accounts.As such Office systems are over specifiied for what each device is called to do.
So whats the problem?
Why do Software/hardware co's keep improving and upgrading?
The answer is simple-
Simply to keep the kettle on the boil
I imagine that for all it multi features the latest office suite [Office 2004?]does little for Mary and her boss'es letters or Bill's accounts.
To keep the must haves shelling out for the newest the latest gizmos, and good on 'em
Me? - yesterdays technology at half price or less suits me fine - co's I'm a pensioner.

  powerless 14:29 31 Jul 2004

Office 2003 - Windows.

Office 2004 - Mac ;-)

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