Thursday, August 31, 2006

Me and Windows

I used to be an anti-Windows crusader. Back, when I came to States in 1990, I soon became
aware of how saturated with Windows are the computer magazines. In fact, one of the first
magazine covers I remember seeing was from Byte magazine, titled: "Windows 3.0 is here - who needs OS/2?".
Back then, I didn't yet know what OS/2 was, but there sure seemed to be a lot of buzz about Windows.

After few months without computer access, my parents bought a computer and I've met Windows first hand. I was not impressed. Sure, the icons were pretty and menus were nifty, but it was slow and it liked to tell me something about Unrecoverable Application Error.

I would spent most of the time at DOS prompt, trying to address the DOS limitations with TSRs (which Windows really didn't care for). Eventually, I've discovered DESQview, which was a great multitasker, despite the stability problems. I was trying to steer clear of Windows and was satisfying my GUI craving by playing around with GEOWORKS Ensemble.

Around that time, I've read about the history of OS/2 and Windows development and felt really strongly that OS/2 was the way to go. The story was quite dramatic, with Microsoft as a bad guy (abandoning OS/2 development in search of quick buck) and IBM as good guy (staying the course and keeping the promises).

Around 1994, I've got my hands on the open beta for OS/2 Warp and tried to install it on my home PC. It didn't work, citing a cryptic "keyboard controller" error. However, this did not curb by enthusiasm about OS/2 and soon I was able to get one for my work PC. The computer liked it and roared with power.
Performance was a tad slow, but DOS multitasking was quite good. Eventually I've stripped out all the graphical doodads and just used OS/2 as a robust DOS multitasker.

For a year, I was a dedicated OS/2 user, doing what I could to promote this wonder system in the newsgroups, to my friends, coworkers, even fighting with software salesmen about their lack of OS/2 applications.

My course and coast were clear, until a devilish temptation appeared on the horizon. The temptation was called Windows 95. As I was buying a new computer for work, I've asked the shop to install both OS/2 Warp Connect and Windows 95 on it. I was pretty sure I'd just stick with OS/2, but I was curious to see what Microsoft had up it's sleave.

As you may guess, I was hooked instantly. The interface was well laid out, the icons looked great, the programs were easily accessible, my DOS tools ran like a charm and I could really find nothing wrong with this OS. Sure, it may have skipped audio when multitasking.. and yeah, there was a DOS prompt hidden behind it's shutdown screen (mode con: co80 anyone)?, but what it did, it did perfectly.

That was the day I kind of found myself in pro-Microsoft camp. While one can argue about the stability, speed or innavation of their products, they've got at least one thing right - the User Interface.
Their programs are pleasant to look at and easy to use, this is hard to argue about.

One thing I noticed once I began using Windows - it's easier to be pro- then anti-.
I no longer need to convince people to use a certain system or tool, I just use whatever works.
Be it from Microsoft, Symantec or open source community, I am not prejudiced.

Thus, I've made peace with Microsoft and enjoyed a lot of fun and productive time with Windows.


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