The Better Mousetrap

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By cordoor
April 19, 2001

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I just finished reading the Duel Over Microsoft. There were a lot of interesting points made on both sides of the coin. However, there was one issue that both seemed to agree on, which was that Microsoft's operating systems weren't the better mousetrap. They both implied that people generally believe Linux to be better and that they agreed with this way of thinking.

The definition of "better" is subjective, of course. So my assumption based on their text was that they believed Linux was better in terms of reliability and performance. It's time for everyone to put this way of thinking to rest.

I'm a software engineer, so I have spent time using and developing on both Windows 2000 and Linux. Anyone who has spent any reasonable time developing technologies for both knows that the Win32 platform is significantly more mature than the Linux platform. Windows 2000 is more stable and is higher performing. With Linux you experience lots of quirks and problems. For example, loadable modules are painful and they don't quite work right in some cases.

It's a shame people don't put to rest the argument that Microsoft operating systems are less stable and crash prone. With Windows 2000, those days are over. I'm certain the same will be true with Windows XP since it's built from the same code base.

I don't want this message to be long-winded, so I'll provide just one personal experience. Before I worked for Intel, I worked for a small startup that was essentially a Microsoft only shop. We had a distributed and parallel system that was basically a setup of dozens of Dell nodes with Microsoft operating systems on them. Towards the end of my tenure there, we were purchased by a competitor company out east which was essentially a UNIX shop. They had an entirely different kind of system, but their system's purpose was essentially the same as ours. However, our system was very stable and our throughput of providing product was very high. Their system was very unstable at both the application level and the operating system level. They were constantly putting out fires and pushing at their system (figuratively, of course) to keep it up and running. While our system operated at over 3 nines (99.9%+ uptime), their system was down several hours a week! Suffice to say, I didn't work for them long because they decided to scrap our system. They felt theirs was more mature. After all, it was UNIX <snicker>.

A lot of the stability of a system depends on the people implementing it. But during my professional career I have used several different platforms, including Netware, UNIX, and Win32. Despite Microsoft's operating system stability problems (which are gone with Windows 2000), the Win32 platform has been the most effective for rolling out product and getting things done. A lot of this has to do with Microsoft's support of engineers, which is a big part of the overall mousetrap.

Microsoft may take a long time getting there, but they eventually get it right. This is also true with their operating systems. It's time people forget about the past and realize that things are different with Windows 2000.


DISCLAIMER: All views are mine alone and not Intel's