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29 Reasons to Not Get Vista

Microsoft Windows Vista hits (assaults) consumers on 30 January 2007. Starting with New Years Day that gives you twenty nine days to think about the big mistake you're about to make.

Every day of January 2007 until Microsoft Windows Vista is released you can read yet another good reason why it's not a good idea to get it.

26 January 2007 Reason #26: It's not Unix.

All operating systems in wide use today are Unix. The Internet was built by and for Unix. Over 70% of the web servers on the Internet run Unix (and they're basically impenetrable as opposed to Microsoft's offerings in the field).

More and more corporations are moving to Unix and the number's going up all the time: more and more corporations surveyed say they will (finally) make the leap in the near future. More and more the name of the game is 'Unix'.

But even Windows - and Vista - are based on Unix. Or at least 'borrow' a lot from Unix.

Microsoft's original operating system (if you can call it that) was MS-DOS aka PC-DOS and was based on a four month moonlighting project by one Tim Paterson of Seattle. (He wasn't an employee of Microsoft then but became one later.)

MS-DOS - or as Tim called it 'QDOS' for 'quick and dirty operating system' - was based on an even earlier product by one Gary Kildall called 'CP/M' ('control program for microprocessors') done on assignment for Intel.

CP/M didn't really do much beyond copying files from one diskette to another and listing files. And there was no such thing as a folder - much less a hierarchical file system where you could put folders inside other folders. That came many years later when Microsoft started to 'borrow' code and other things from Unix.

Microsoft Windows of today is reliant on something known as 'Berkeley Sockets': this is the code that makes it possible for computers to connect to the Internet. The Berkeley Sockets code, not surprisingly, comes from the University of California at Berkeley and is part of the project that eventually put the Internet together. And without this code no Windows computer would be online. And the Berkeley Sockets code was written by and for Unix.

Lucky for Microsoft then that the Berkeley Sockets code is 'open source' and can be freely used.

Still, over the years Microsoft have had issues with their Berkeley Sockets code, mostly because in their wisdom they thought they could 'improve' it. And when it comes to Microsoft things like that usually backfire.

Windows - and Vista - are actually based on another operating system called 'VMS' which was the brainchild of one David Cutler formerly of Digital Equipment Corporation. In fact Windows is based too much on VMS - which is not free to use as Berkeley Sockets and Unix is - and so Digital Equipment Corporation naturally sued.

And they won.

But beyond the issue of outright 'theft' - all too common with Microsoft - is of course the issue of usability. VMS performed reliably in its day and was considered one of the world's most 'bulletproof' operating systems - but that day was before the widespread use of the Internet.

And although VMS - like Unix - was a 'server' operating system it didn't make the transition to the desktop as successfully as Unix.

And part of the reason for this might be that Dave Cutler never intended to make a desktop version. In fact Dave Cutler was several years into his project before the subject ever came up - at which time he decided to 'flip a few bits' and let it go at that. (Dave wasn't much for graphical interfaces and he definitely wasn't much for Microsoft.)

Do you need to configure your computer for security? Dave wouldn't have thought so because in his world you never had a computer - you had a 'terminal'. Only he had the computer. And it didn't matter much to him that the computer might be difficult to configure: after all, only the real pros would get near the machine anyway.

But that's not the way it works today. And Dave's VMS, for all its reliability, is not the OS you want on your desktop.

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