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Microsoft And Windows Competitors Essay, Research Paper

A lot of people today, mostly microsofties, argue that Microsoft should not be split up since it isn?t really a monopoly; Windows has a lot of competitors out there and some of the companies that make them are even bigger than Microsoft. And that is actually quite true: Microsoft has only about 6% of the global software market and only 3% of the global computer market overall. There are several computer companies that make more than Microsoft, like Sun Microsystems and Compaq and there are at least nine other operating systems besides Windows, some of which you could even get for free.

After three decades of use, the UNIX computer operating system from Bell Labs is still regarded as one of the most powerful, versatile, and flexible operating systems (OS) in the computer world. Its popularity is due to many factors, including its ability to run a wide variety of machines, from micros to supercomputers, and its portability — all of which led to its adoption by many manufacturers.

The UNIX operating system was designed to let a number of programmers access the computer at the same time and share its resources. While initially meant for medium-sized computers, the system was soon moved to larger, more powerful mainframe computers. As personal computers grew in popularity, versions of UNIX found their way into these boxes, and a number of companies produce UNIX-based machines for the scientific and programming communities.

A major contribution of the UNIX system was its portability, permitting it to move from one brand of computer to another with a minimum of code changes. At a time when different computer lines of the same vendor didn’t talk to each other — yet alone machines of multiple vendors — that meant a great savings in both hardware and software upgrades. It also meant that the operating system could be upgraded without having all the customer’s data inputted again. And new versions of UNIX were backward compatible with older versions, making it easier for companies to upgrade in an orderly manner.

UNIX comes with hundreds of programs that can be divided into two classes: integral utilities that are absolutely necessary for the operation of the computer, such as the command interpreter, and tools that aren’t necessary for the operation of UNIX but provide the user with additional capabilities, such as typesetting capabilities and e-mail; the tools can be added or removed from a UNIX system, depending upon the applications required.

The UNIX system is functionally organized at three levels: the kernel, which schedules tasks and manages storage; the shell, which connects and interprets users’ commands, calls programs from memory, and executes them; and the tools and applications that offer additional functionality to the operating system.

The kernel, the heart of the operating system, controls the hardware and turns part of the system on and off at the programmer’s command. If you ask the computer to list (ls) all the files in a directory, the kernel tells the computer to read all the files in that directory from the disk and display them on your screen.

There are several types of shell, most notably the command driven Bourne Shell and the C Shell, and menu-driven shells that make it easier for beginners to use. Whatever shell is used, its purpose remains the same — to act as an interpreter between the user and the computer. The shell also provides the functionality of “pipes,” whereby a number of commands can be linked together by a user, permitting the output of one program to become the input to another program.

There are hundreds of tools available to UNIX users and they are typically grouped into categories for certain functions, such as word processing, business applications, or programming.

LINUX, a 1991 version of UNIX, was developed by Linus Torvalds, a student at the time, and by hundreds of volunteer programmers around the world. This system can be downloaded at absolutely no charge from the Internet. Caldera is the commercial version of Linux; although you have to pay for it, the advantage is that it is almost self-installing, like Windows is (some say it?s even easier than Windows).

Sun Microsystems has also developed a platform of its own, whose latest edition, Solaris 8 or the “.com Operating Environment”, is said to ?raise the bar for the industry, re-defining the operating system and revolutionizing the operating system business.? ?Sun?s claim that it built the backbone of the Internet is not that far from the truth?, said a PC World article in May, 1999. The new features in Solaris 8 software are said to drive the five critical requirements for Internet-based systems – scalability, availability, manageability, security and connectivity – to new heights.

BeOS is the operating system from Be, Inc. ?Based on an entirely new idea in computing, BeOS was designed to satisfy the higher processing and memory requirements of today’s digital media on standard PC hardware, without slowing down or freezing up.? say the developers. It works with audio, video, image, and Internet-based applications, and edits files of millions of gigabytes in size, simultaneously, in real-time and boots up in less than 20 seconds. A very innovative feature that BeOS brings is the fact that each application runs in its own protected memory space, so if one crashes, the system and other applications don’t even notice; all you need to do is reload the crashed application. That could also be time-saving when you need to make a configuration change. Be Inc. also offers BeIA, a version of the BeOS intended specifically for internet appliances. Unfortunately, this OS isn?t all that popular.

Another operating system that a lot of people haven?t heard of is Amiga OS; Amiga is quite new to the market, 3.5 being its newest version. Some of the features offered by this new operating system are easy Internet access, a modern Graphical User Interface (GUI), extensive CD-ROM support, support for current printers, PowerPC support, and HTML online documentation.

BSD/OS is a fast, scalable, multitasking, 32-bit server network platform with a small footprint, virtual memory (optional) and memory protection, with support for 768 Mbytes of RAM and up to 3.75 Gbytes of user virtual memory; it can perform on systems equipped with as little as 2 Mbytes of RAM. The new platform offers an Internet Server System using Intel, Sparc, and Alpha processors, Internet Appliance Platforms, RAID solutions, Multi-boot Workstations, and LAN/WAN products. The BSD/OS kernel is derived from the UC Berkeley?s 4.4BSD release with a few other enhancements.

OS/2 Warp is offered by IBM, which OS/2 fanatics claim is better than Windows 95 in everything, even ease of use. The truth is that OS/2 has more software than Windows 95, although it is harder to find in retail stores. This platform has other advantages too: it allows you to run Java applications directly on the OS instead of a browser and it includes VoiceType Dictation (basically software that allows to speak to your computer), and Internet applications such as Telnet, FTP, and gopher.

And last, but not least, Apple Computers, one of Microsoft oldest competitors, has its own operating system to offer: MacOS. When Apple began, it brought a revolutionary product into the market, a product that was to change the way everyone worked. Computers were no longer monolithic number crunchers that could only be used by mega-corporations; through Apple computers, every business would be able to use them for a number of applications, including word processing. It was this creative surge that got Apple rolling. With first year sales of $111 million, Apple became the record breaker in corporate history. But as soon as Apple decided that it had the market under its thumb, and it no longer needed to be creative, IBM and the clone industry very rapidly took over.

Mac OS X is the name of the next-generation operating system software from Apple. Apple built this all new operating system (with a new user interface that is very easy to use) using open standards, and with contributions from the open source software community. The Mac OS X is made out of three basic parts: the core OS, graphics and Aqua.

Also called Darwin, the core OS, is the part that was built using open standards. At the core of Darwin is a key component called the kernel, the component that mediates most of the interaction between the operating system and the hardware; Mac OS X features the Mach 3.0 kernel, originally developed at Carnegie-Mellon University. Among others, the Darwin also features a super-efficient virtual memory manager, a memory protection architecture that allocates a unique address space for each application or process running on your Mac and advanced device support.

Apple combines Quartz, QuickTime and OpenGL, three of the most powerful graphics technologies today, to enhance the graphics performance of the new internet — built operating system. The Quartz technology provides built-in support for PDF (potable document format), which enables you to embed and manipulate PDF data with almost any Mac OS X application.

OpenGL, the 3D technology used by computer games today, is suppose to take the quality of your photorealistic graphics and games to a whole new level.

Mac OS X also includes QuickTime, ?the unifying format and platform for multi-source, multi-destination content creation and consumption in the digital age; the engine that powers iMovie and Final Cut Pro?, as the PC Magazine puts it. QuickTime is now the Internet standard for multimedia and is at the core of Apple?s digital video editing software; it allows you to watch live videos and create your own home videos.

Aqua is the name of the new interface of the Mac operating system; it was baptized with this name because it uses such effects as depth, translucence and fluid motion. The reason for this new design is not only the appearance, which, if you ask me, would be enough by itself; the underlying reason is an ability to keep the user informed of the status of the activities on the desktop with continuous visual feedback.

With all these great operating systems though, 90% of computer owners today are still using Windows. A lot of people might argue that this is a big enough figure to make Microsoft a monopoly. The argument against them is that these 90% are users who chose Windows because they thought it to be better than all the other operating systems out there and not because they did not have another choice. They do have a choice…

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