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Standard User AEP
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 18-Dec-11 13:00:12
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Is Windows an Operating System


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Discussion transferred from TTTS.
You’ve questioned my knowledge of history, but I don’t think anybody at the time of its inception would have regarded Windows as being an operating system – an “operating environment”, perhaps, for want of a better description.
I'm afraid that you do indeed demonstrate a lack of knowledge about the history of Windows. Whatever early versions of Windows were, all recent versions are based on the NT kernel, which is not based on MS-DOS. The NT kernel provides all of the functions that one expects of an OS; it manages devices, memory, and processes and provides applications with access to those resources through an extremely rich API.
I seem to remember that an "operating system" was something which resided on the first two tracks of a disk, and I cannot remember the Windows files having to sit on a bootable disk.
You remember wrong. There is no requirement for an operating system to reside on a disk, let alone on particular tracks. Early operating systems were loaded from paper tape, or magnetic tape; recent ones can be loaded from disk, read only memory, network, or a variety of other sources. Windows is generally loaded from a hard disk; there is a requirement for the Windows boot loader to reside on a bootable disk. There is no requirement for any operating system kernel to reside on a bootable disk, just the bootstrap code that loads it.
So, to end this discussion, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree over whether Windows is an operating system or not.
Then I'm afraid that you'll have to disagree with others, not just me. Even Linux and Apple sources talk about Windows as an "Operating System"; they would be foolish not to.

Had this conversation taken place 20 years ago you might have a point (although it could be argued that MS-DOS was just the kernel for Windows 3); but nowadays you are wrong. Else we would still be installing MS-DOS on our computers so that we could then install Windows 7.
Standard User mixt
(experienced) Sun 18-Dec-11 13:17:54
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


[re: AEP] [link to this post]
 
Yeah, sounds on the money.

You do all remember GEM, right? Which was an alternative Graphical Environment Manager which ran on top of DOS. It also ran on top of TOS (for Atari micro computers back in the 80s). As usual, there was the battle of different window managers but Windows won as it was developed by Microsoft, who also bought DOS from IBM and so had more leverage (I hate that word) to marry the two together to produce Windows 3 onwards.

And yes, as of NT onwards, they moved into a dedicated kernel which formed the platform for the rest of the "Windows" operating system, which became, and now is, a true operating system in its own right.

As a senior university lecturer once told me, the definition of an OS is quite simple - it turns a computer into something other than a fan heater, usual something more useful. Windows/Linux/BSD/UNIX/MacOS/iOS/Android/BeOS/QNX/IRIX and countless others all achieve this goal admirably, though some are more suited to particular tasks than others.

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Edited by mixt (Sun 18-Dec-11 13:32:49)

Standard User RobertoS
(sensei) Sun 18-Dec-11 13:32:43
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


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MS did not buy from IBM. They bought an OS from someone else to construct MSDOS, to compete with CPM, and when they got the contract from IBM for the PC produced the tailored version PCDOS so they could retain the rights to MSDOS, etc. etc.

Re the origins of the opening post, the poster quoted in it believes that Windows was a factor in MSDOS superceding CPM. I think that is incorrect. It was the IBM contract that did that, and Windows was not viable for commercial use, (in my opinion), until 3.1 at the earliest.

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Standard User mixt
(experienced) Sun 18-Dec-11 13:34:05
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the correction and clarification.

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Edited by mixt (Sun 18-Dec-11 13:35:11)

Standard User MadMan
(knowledge is power) Sun 18-Dec-11 13:58:38
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
=============
They bought an OS from someone else to construct MSDOS
=============

Yep. It was a good deal at $75,000 smile

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Standard User micksharpe
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 18-Dec-11 14:14:24
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


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Going by the old definition that "an operating system is a piece of software designed to stop computer programmers using the hardware" then, yes, I'd say it is.

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Standard User RobertoS
(sensei) Sun 18-Dec-11 15:02:30
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


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In reply to a post by micksharpe:
Going by the old definition that "an operating system is a piece of software designed to stop computer programmers using the hardware" then, yes, I'd say it is.
I've never heard that definition, and having been a techie in computing since 1966 I think I would have tongue.

In any case, any OS has a huge amount of technical info in manuals precisely, inter alia, to allow programmers to get at the hardware. The OS is to allow the resultant programs to be usable by non-programmers.

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Standard User AEP
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 18-Dec-11 15:49:29
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


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There's a story (which I believe to be true) that when Microsoft and IBM first met to discuss the contract the Microsoft guys thought they had better go against their better nature and wear suits. Meanwhile, the IBM guys thought they had better go against their better nature and dress casual.

As you say, the idea that Windows had anything to do with the success of MS-DOS is totally false. CP/M-86 had lost out to MS-DOS long before Windows was a twinkle in Bill's eye. Digital Research tried to be a little too tough when negotiating with IBM (big mistake) and so lost the contract that they had been favourites to win. Microsoft were a little more pragmatic. Sensible when you look at the outcome - who's heard of Digital Research nowadays.

Rather than Windows helping MS-DOS succeed it was the cause of its decline.
Standard User AEP
(eat-sleep-adslguide) Sun 18-Dec-11 15:58:58
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


[re: RobertoS] [link to this post]
 
Mick is right that any modern Operating System prevents programmers from accessing the hardware directly. The APIs do provide an intermediary to access the hardware on the programmer's behalf. Very sensible really; think what would happen if two programs tried to control the disk controller directly at the same time.

Re your post in TTTS, the first consumer OS to use the NT kernel was 2000 (although some might dispute that it was a consumer OS). Any of the 32-bit OSs has to control the hardware itself as the BIOS isn't (or wasn't at that time) callable from 32-bit code. And, of course, MS-DOS couldn't handle memory Page Tables and other little details like that that are essential to 32-bit operation.

And today's 64-bit versions of Windows are about as far from MS-DOS as you can get - they can't even run 16-bit code.
Standard User RobertoS
(sensei) Sun 18-Dec-11 16:00:46
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Re: Is Windows an Operating System


[re: AEP] [link to this post]
 
The other story is that the DR top brass had a golf outing organised and didn't think it necessary to cancel it to talk to IBM. So IBM talked to MS.

Both could be true.

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