After having just completed an install of Microsoft’s Windows 7, and putting it through it’s paces. I had to make some notes about the changes in the networking components for my work to be able to support it in the future. As I was sitting there, thinking that this is just a shine over of Windows Vista, I could not make any notes that were worth while. I came to realize in the 10 minutes I was blankly staring at my laptop screen, that I was looking at this all wrong or at least I missed the whole point, as my wife usually has to point out to me.
If you look at a lot of the graphical based operating systems over the years, you can come to a couple of weird observations. One is, at its core an OS is just a menu, a menu to make it easier to start your programs. Think about it for a second. Back in the DOS days most computers that were sold had some sort of batch menu or dos-shell setup to make it easier to launch the programs you wanted to use. A lot of techies got entry level PC technician jobs back then because they knew how to manipulate those batch files. We are talking menus that were merely 5k in size, and dos-shell took about 15k. You could boot up your computer get on the menu and startup the word processor and be working, much like you do now. Fast forward to today, Windows 7/Vista just by themselves take 10gb of space to even get to the point to launch the programs you want to use. It is all kind of funny isn’t it? So funny it makes me mad just by thinking about it.
The second observation is a big hmmm? Some of you techies reading this are thinking, what about the networking component? You are right I must admit Windows 7, and to be fair all the other graphical operating systems, do have built in networking and security features that make it easier for the user to connect to a network and internet. Here’s the catch, if you look forward by looking in the past you can find a network stack that only took about 30k to build. Novell did it back in the early to mid 90’s. They had their DOS stack streamlined and fast and under 30k. That is smaller than most of the help files in Vista are in size. It hooked you to the network and mapped drives for you with batch files and people got their work done just like now. I can’t for the life of me understand why this stuff has to be so large nowadays. Do some software testing will you Microsoft I need to be able to make the wireless inside vista work without spending an hour just trying to get it to enable.
Both of these led me to a point that had been staring me in the face for years. Windows, OS/X, Linux and similar operating systems are just severely bloated menus. Each new one slower than the next, which makes you glad the processor manufacturers are increasing speeds every 3-6 months. Every time they are touted as the “what you need on your computer”, the end all be all, but it is just a … menu. A menu that’s main purpose is to connect you to a network securely and launch the programs you need to work or entertain yourself. So ask yourself why do you need fancy over fast? Why does a menu need to be 10gb in size? I surely do not know, unless it is to line the pockets of the companies that make the product and keep their shareholders happy. This is just more examples of the current crop of software failure stories. If you want a 30mb menu jump over to Slitaz.org and test out their take on Linux. You will be surprised!