by November 28, 2000 0 comments

This was a fairly calm year as far as operating systems (OS)
were concerned. Almost all of them came out with new releases or beta versions
of newer ones. But none turned out to be earth shaking. In fact, many of the new
releases were stopgap ones, while waiting for the big ones next year.

Apple finally released the beta version of their new
operating system, OS X. The beta version is available for a price and is stated
to be an almost complete rework, and brings in multi processing to the Mac.
Another high point of the OS is supposed to be its new interface, named Aqua.

On the Linux front, the high point was the acquisition of SCO’s
Unix OS by Caldera. Caldera has been advocating multiple kernels for Linux, and
this acquisition can be a step towards achieving this. SCO had developed what
they called the Linux personality for UnixWare, using which Linux applications
can run on UnixWare. This could have been another factor, which influenced
Calera’s decision.

Also, almost all major Linux distributions now have Indian
operations. Caldera comes in through the acquisition of SCO, thereby gaining
access to SCO’s infrastructure in the country. SUSE has just set up office
here, and Red Hat has formed a joint venture with a local development house. One
can now expect a serious stepping up of Linux-related activity in the country in
the coming year. New versions have been released by various distributions. But,
the excitement associated with a new kernel release is missing. That is expected
next year.

Novell has a portfolio of robust applications, but it has not
been able to leverage on them, possibly because these applications lack the ease
of installation and management associated with those from others, notably
Microsoft. The same has more or less been the case with NetWare also. While
Microsoft has been able to extend NT beyond file and print into an application
server, NetWare has more or less remained a file and print server.

Be released the personal version of BeOS as a free-to-use OS.
But even with this, they did not achieve critical mass, which is sad considering
the OS’s robustness and capabilities, particularly on the multimedia front.
They have changed strategies yet again and are now focusing on niche markets,
particularly that for embedded systems.

That brings us to Microsoft. We saw two releases from the
software giant–Windows ME for the desktop and Windows 2000 for the server. ME
is not really a major advance over Win 98. The biggest improvement in ME is its
ability to be idiot proof to some extent. Windows 2000, on the other hand, is a
major release over Win NT 4. But NT 4 continues to do well, as corporates are
yet to use or need fully the new features of Windows 2000. As Microsoft itself
admitted, Windows 2000 may be ahead of its time, and its true impact will be
known next year, when more applications able to leverage on its capabilities
become available. Microsoft is increasing focusing on the mobile market, and
PDAs running the pocket version of Windows have been singularly successful.

With major releases planned by almost all vendors in the
coming year, it will be interesting to watch how the OS game gets played out.

Krishna Kumar

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