Speciation of Operating System


DOS=30, Mac/OS=27, Windows=26, Linux=21

The youngest of the four is Linux which is now 21 years old. All of them are out of their teens and entered adulthood where they are now mature and have stopped growing. They have grown up in a world where every computer whether a server or a client had a monitor which was 12’’ or larger, a keyboard, a mouse or a similar device which could be used to move the cursor on the screen and a storage system where files were stored organized hierarchically. They mostly had one processor to run and multi-task multiple applications. But they have already started feeling the generation gap.

Well, DOS should not be in the list because we have already written its obituary. I have decided to keep DOS in this list because the trigger for this post was DOS completing 30 year – its memory still lingers in the latest version of Windows where you can still open a command window and use the DOS commands.

Generation Gap or New Species?

There are so many brash new preschool kids in the family. They are so different that you will be pardoned in thinking that they are not progenies but are different species.

You have the likes of iOS, Android and others who do not understand what a mouse is. To them keyboard, multi-tasking, file systems all are after thought or non-existent. Everything revolves around touch. The largest screen size they look at is probably smaller than the smallest screen size of the previous generation.

Then there is another species called Chrome OS which does not understand anything other than what a browser is but it understands a keyboard and a mouse. It tries to be completely agnostics about the processor and the storage.

The third species is the likes of Eucalyptus, Open Stack and Azure. To them, anything to do with display, mouse and keyboard is only incidental. They subsume their parents like Windows, Linux etc. and can manage any number of them. They in collaboration of others like Amazon, Rackspace, and Microsoft etc. can become omnipresence and omnipotent.

Then you have the fourth species like Google App Engine and other PaaS platforms which is completely ethereal and has no physical form. You only talk to them through a messiah like Eclipse or Visual Studio using language which they decide to speak.

As you can see they have very little in common – their DNA has mutated substantially.

Evolutionary Biologists call this Speciation.

Where does that leave us?

Many of us had a dream that we can think of a language which every operating system will understand. But like Esperanto, that dream lies shattered.

So, what happens to us developers, designers and architects?

We need to learn how to deal with these different species. Before that we need to recognize that we are dealing with things that are quite different from what it was only 5 years back.

We also need to recognize that this may not be the end of the mutation and few years down the line we may have entirely different ecosystem.

We have to unlearn and relearn stuff – welcome to the new world.

Comments
4 Responses to “Speciation of Operating System”
  1. nayanzaveri says:

    I think there is long way to go for OS evolution… I think it is kind of sad Microsoft dominated the initial few years… But I think this will change in the coming few years with all these new OS coming in and making there place in the market… this would happen since the users would also evolve on their expectations from their “PC”.. I think we will see specialized OS in the coming future.. that do specialized task that the user wants them to do.

  2. he98nw says:

    Quite the opposite!

    I am in completely opposite of your view. I would think, how lucky we are, to be able to grow with or witness the evolution of operating systems, and how sad they will have to spend their extra time to learn the history so that they can have a better understanding of the evolution path in computing industry in general and the operating systems in specific.

    It is not unlearn but evolving from the past.

  3. Brian Barker says:

    Esperanto’s shattered dreams ? Many ignorant people describe Esperanto as “failed” – other ignorant people say that if human beings were meant to fly, God would have given them wings.

    Esperanto is neither artificial nor a failure however. As the British Government now employs Esperanto translators it has ceased to be a hobby.

    During a short period of 124 years Esperanto is now in the top 100 languages, out of 6,800 worldwide. It is the 22nd most used language in Wikipedia, ahead of Danish and Arabic. It is a language choice of Google, Skype, Firefox, Ubuntu and Facebook.

    Native Esperanto speakers, (people who have used the language from birth), include World Chess Champion Susan Polger, Ulrich Brandenberg the new German Ambassador to and Nobel Laureate Daniel Bovet. Financier George Soros learnt Esperanto as a child.

    Esperanto is a living language – see http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    The new online course http://www.lernu.net has 125 000 hits per day and Esperanto Wikipedia enjoys 400 000 hits per day. That can’t be bad🙂

  4. Very aptly described the changing scenario’s. But i believe, the basic nuisances of any language remain the same. Syntax changes. As developer’s and architects, we need to be very hands on to top of our game, otherwise, the new crop of engineers will beat us anytime.

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