Feeds

back to article Why Microsoft is Acorn and Symbian is the new CP/M

Today's glut of mobile platforms is surprisingly reminiscent of their proliferation on desktops during the 1980s: an analogy which might show how things will develop over the next few decades. Comparing the operating systems running on today's phones with those of yesteryear is curiously easy - it fits too well to be just …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Grenade

Look a bit further, why don't you

The explosion of OSes for handsets is a characteristic of every upcoming market. If you would look a bit further you can see the same thing with video recorders and, especially, automobiles. Eventually a market will settle on a small number of major players, each finding their proper niche.

Personally I don't think Android will rule the roost come 2030. For one very simple reason: nobody wants it. Google really doesn't care about Android apart from a tactical weapon to ward off Apple in the entertainment sector. Handset makers don't care about Android and are doing their best to differentiate themselves from the competition. Users don't care (apart from the zealots who will decry I'm an idiot), they just want a smartphone that's not an iPhone (for whatever reason: cost/carrier/lack of style). Carriers don't care, except they will, once Android assumes your analogy and will give birth to Android Windows with all the viruses and malware that go along with it.

5
17
Anonymous Coward

Is this an analysis

or rather a wishlist ?

1
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Nobody Wants Android?

So why does it currently have 25.5% of the market, then?

http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1466313

3
0
Silver badge

@ Nobody Wants Android?

For the very reasons stated in his post. They aren't buying the phone because its *android*, they're buying it for what the phone does, the fact that it's running android isn't a part of the purchasing decision.

All PC's today have an F10 button, but you don't buy it because it has an F10 button.

0
4
Silver badge

I know people that want an Android phone

I mean normal, non-technical people. Reasons tend to be that they're cheap, have a pretty good browser and can run Angry Birds.

The article doesn't seem to discuss the way that this market differs from that of the 80s: the increasing delivery of functionality through browsers. If you bought an MSX then you were in an entirely different ecosystem to someone with a Commodore 64. But if you buy an Android phone then you're probably going to use it to interact with 80% of the same material as someone with an iPhone. Ditto a bada, webOS or Windows 7 phone.

6
0

linux story

Linux became popular with unix server vendors because it was the one choice that was not their competitors baby. They could all support Linux, whereas only HP would choose hpux, only DEC would choose ultrix, etc.

Only Apple will support iOS, only Nokia will support Symbian (if that), and so on.

Android may be the second best, but it can be universal - allow carrier and manufacturer specialisation without the sort of fragmentation that we have had and that J2ME and cousins could not fix.

Android will win like windows won; it will run everywhere and well enough to get the broad support.

5
1

MSX

You're comparisons fall over with MSX. Microsoft led the MSX project. In the mobile world MS are working on Windows Phone 7, and not competitors OS's.

0
2
Bronze badge
Troll

Matsushita Sony X

Wrong. The MSX standard was conceived by Kazuhiko Nishi, and commercialy led by Matsushita and Sony; purportedly "MSX" was an acronym for Matsushita Sony X ("Cross") – that is, a cross-over between the otherwise bitter rivals – though Nishi himself conceded in an interview years later that "MSX" meant nothing in particular, and that he sometimes came up with different meanings to appease the various companies involved with it.

Microsoft did take a part early on in the project by providing an MS-DOS port, which became known as MSX-DOS – but apart from that and undeservedly taking credit for the whole project, just to deny it later when it lost interest, MS had little to do with MSX. It certainly wasn't nowhere to be seen by the time the MSX2's and MSX2+'s reached the market, and had long forgotten about it when the TurboR's arrived.

0
0

Acorn grew into the new Intel

Surely Acorn spun out into ARM and ARM is the new Intel in this space

6
0
Anonymous Coward

are you...

...JB7 man?

If so, why did you put your glasses on? Early adverts didn't have them

0
0

JB7 man

Yes I am - glasses - no particular reason - I think I needed a photo with more pixels and that was to hand - Martin

0
0

The anti-user world of OS

The OS world has always frustrated me with its infighting and obvious blocking of features its never been user focused as a collective. This is why I left 'computers' and went into networking.

Were, giants get together, form groups, forums and design and implement standards, while complying to standards individual's add a little extra proprietary options for value add; BUT support the standards.

So even 10 years ago as well as now you have Cisco connecting to Nortel/bay using PPP. Any kind of router that supports OSPF, works together. Proprietary formats rise and fall or fold into standards. RFC's describe in detail how these things work.

Interoperability is rare and questioned, "Why doesn't X work with Y, we need a work around or a fix!"

I see none of this in the OS industry, they are petty, incompatible, uncooperative, closed (mostly). Shame on this industry, failing the end users with your squabbles. The only OS worth supporting is Linux/Android which needs reminding to stay open and compatible.

10
0

That defines the microprocessr

Intel win again

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Symbian as CP/M?

No wonder I ended up with a symbian phone. Though its promises fulfilled to promises made ratio is worse than for CP/M, at least in my experience.

Maybe I just don't see it, but there'll remain room for phones that are just phones and therefore it doesn't matter what they run. For smartphones with apps attached you need some sort of developer base, and there mindshare is important. But what it so far hasn't is a killer app with a proprietary format blocking interop with the rest. Certain parties might (with a high degree of predictability) try again, but if there's enough factors to stop it, then there'll be enough room for several OSes.

And monocultures even effective ones in all but a name, are extremely damaging for long-term stability and innovation in the field. So we should insist on open standards for interop and refuse to be locked in, or suffer the consequences. We ought to have learned that lesson by now.

1
2
Troll

"Early Mac Users"

"Early Mac users suffered accusations of brand slavery and overpriced hardware, just as iPhone users do today"

You make it sound as though that's an allegation which couldn't be levied against current Mac users. How strange.

18
1
Alert

Commodore?

So where is the c64 and amiga? They were by far the most popular choice for most home users, at least here in europe. The PC was for business (hello RIM) and commodore made the machines of choice for the consumer (probably apple right now?). Then commodore arsed their business up, and the PC spread into the home, so they kind of change places.

So, at the beginning, microsoft is RIM and commodore is apple. Later, microsoft is google, and commodore is nokia.

The good old speccy should be in there too!

1
1

commodore

I'm not so sure there is an equivelent now, but certainly in the past. The Amiga was years ahead of the opposition, most of the phones offer (roughly) the same level of advancement now.

Perhaps the early Symbian (re: EPOC) would be a contender?: early multitasking smartphone OS, that punched above it's wait while consuming small amount of resources, but offering great software, and lots of games....but slowly lost the lead by failing to inovate like they used to.

2
0
Thumb Down

MeeGo ?

Not only RIM with QNX, but also Nokia with MeeGo was forgotten. And HP with WebOS.

And no mention of the Internet-as-OS, that didn't have any equivalent in the 80'.

0
0
Gold badge
Happy

RIM? Easy!

IBM PC-DOS. It could have been the ubiquitous OS, but it's tied to specific hardware and thus almost entirely restricted to the corporate market.

It'll stroll along in the background with a healthy user base until its makers trot out their new, be all and end all upgrade (OS/2) which won't work with any existing apps or hardware and will have a learning curve like the North Face of the Eiger. RIM will die the death of a thousand cuts as the corporate holdouts gradually migrate to Android.

3
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Education and business were the key then, they're not now

Education and business standardised on MS-DOS/Windows with a niche market for Acorn and Mac OS. They then improved and moved into the consumer space because it often made sense to have a machine which could do both home and business/education tasks in the home. Acorn sadly got crushed under the US juggernaut.

Mobiles are different because there's no particular mobile operating system which deals better with business or educational needs now. Education simply isn't done on mobiles and as for business, WM6.5 has committed suicide and Blackberry is not that much of a step above the rest. Businesses will also supply you with a business mobile which you carry around along with your private one which does what you want.

So homogenisation of mobile OS's in the same lines as the 80s-90s desktop systems is not guaranteed.

3
1
Boffin

RISC-powered Archimedes

The Acorn RISC Machine, or ARM, processor in fact. So does this mean that in 20 years time there will (still?) be a bit of Microsoft technology equally ubiquitous?

0
0
Pint

Ello tosh, got a Toshiba?

I remember the Tosh advert well, but recall the advert line slightly differently as:

"What *happens* next year when it's out of date? No *chance* Dad, this is MSX mate!".

Regardless of the actual words, I remember thinking at the time how incredibly ironic that was likely to be in the UK with the C64 and Speccy so firmly entrenched.

Tosh -iba, Tosh-iba, Tosh-iba...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

MSX may have flopped in the UK and US but...

...apparently MSX *was* a success in its home market of Japan, as well as the Netherlands (possibly due to Philips' involvement?)

Of course, the Reg's comparison was based around the UK market of a quarter-century ago, so I wouldn't overdo the point, but it's still worth noting, if only for the differences (the market is far more global now...) and the similarities (...but not entirely, some formats/devices seen as failures in most markets still do very well and often dominate elsewhere).

1
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Metal Gear

That's the reason that the first two games in the Metal Gear series were made for the MSX2. In fact, those games themselves are the reason for me to have an MSX2 emulator.

0
0

palm?

No mention of webos...........

might not be as stillborn if hp can make something of it.

0
0

webos?

Tsk! I'm a Spanish speaker, and "webos" reads like the colloquial phonetic pronunciation of our term for bollocks. Must be Friday.

-dZ.

0
0
Coat

Fried or Scrambled ?

Stop egging him on - give him free range to express himself instead of poaching his post.

0
0
Linux

Android hardware requirements

> Android is clearly an apt inheritor of MS-DOS's crown - cobbled together features doomed to endless instability by the requirement to support a disparate range of hardware ..

32MB RAM, 32MN Flash Memory, 200MHz Online Processor

http://news.cnet.com/From-Dangers-realm-come-Androids-makers/2008-1039_3-6218126.html

0
0

MS-DOS

In all fairness, I never did find MS-DOS unstable.

It was simple, predictable and it worked. It ran and crashed predictably. If it crashed 99.9% of the time it was my fault.

Quite honestly, as some of you probably already know some people out there run fairly mission critical apps on MS-DOX boxes without too many problems even to this day.

Windows... Now windows was very unstable. I guess it's a little better now, hey?

1
0
Silver badge

Blackberry as OS/2?

OS/2 was very popular in the banking sector and a few other big corporates. I get the feeling Blackberry occupies a similar niche.

Of course Blackberry is also popular with teenage girls who like the fact they can chat with their Blackberry owning friends for free on Blackberry Messenger, a market segment that never really existed in the pesonal computer market, so the analogy isn't quite identical.

Then again, Android phones have Google Talk, and apps are available for all the other IM networks, so that could tempt them away from Blackberry.

2
0
Bronze badge
Coat

The One Thing...

...That I like about RIM and their Blackberries is that they seem to piss off other countries with their encryption. That's a huge selling point with me and it makes me smile.

The iPhone... well, Mr. Jobs is one of those people that, for some reason, you want to punch for absolutely nothing at all - you know of what I speak, some stranger walks by and the hair stands up on the back of your neck? There you go. You tend not to purchase for salescritters you don't like.

Android. Looks like a possible avenue and would be useful to me, but I still haven't seen anything at Verizon (VZ has the best coverage in East Tennessee - ATT is great out West but sucks monkey balls here) that has as big a screen/real estate as my Storm 2.

The asbestos overcoat with the BB Server Express manual hanging out of the pocket... I feel a heat wave coming.... lol

0
0

Very good...

I was going to suggest RIM as Altos, but I think OS/2 is a much better comparison. Perfect actually.

0
0
Go

<yawn>

My pitifully ancient and uninspiring Palm Pre Plus makes and receives calls and texts perfectly, surfs with acceptable speed, has all the applications I want and provides me a hot spot when I need it. Oh frelling well.... the both of us are old farts and seem to get by nicely. Think I'll just keep what works and continue to chuckle at all the tussling among the elite. Reminds me of elephants mating: takes place at a very high lever, accompanied by a lot of bellowing and grunting and take two years to get results.

2
0
Unhappy

Acorn, whatever happened to them? THEY BECAME ARM!

Um, the author of this article does know that Acorn went on to become ARM, the designer and patent-holder of the CPUs used in almost every smartphone and low-power device on the planet, right?

3
3
Happy

Not strictly...

..true. Acorn went on to become Element 14, purveyors of set-top boxes and associated tat. They set up ARM as a joint venture with Apple and VLSI in 1990.

So now you know.

0
0

Acorn led to ARM

Would it be pushing the analogy too far to note that Acorn's Archimedes platform led to ARM?

I wonder where WebOS fits in the analogy.

1
0
Silver badge
Coat

not quite

MICROSOFT

Win Mobile < 7 = MSDOS

Win Mobile 7 = OS/2

Kin = Win ME

NOKIA (and deserting friends)

Symbian = BSD free + X-Windows...

Maemo might be Linux ... or OS/2 Warp :-)

APPLE

iOS = Mac OS

Palm = BBC Micro, then they did WinMo for while I think? then with new OS = Archimedies

RIM = CP/M. This is why they bought QNX OS

BADA = MSX for sure!

Mines the one with the DR MultiDOS manual in one pocket and Minix OS boot Floppy in the other.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

What goes around comes around.

I learnt this a long time ago. The person who interviewed me for my second job back in 1991 was an ex-IBM employee. He showed me that most of what the PC industry was going through had already happened to the mainframe industry.

Only the details of the technology change. The overall trends just come and go so if you wait around long enough your expertise will be back in vogue.

1
0

MS-DOS unstable?

Really? It didn't really do enough to be unstable from what I remember. Time may have dulled the pain but I generally felt "Windows" was the unstable OS.

As much as they are tempting, the comparisons here are largely bogus. Not withstanding that new business sectors often follow a pattern of having a bunch of competitors at the beginning and consolidate later on.

My key criticism of the analogy is that (arguably) the PC war was over before consumers rather than business got into buying PCs and that happened as a result of Microsoft cornering the desktop business application market.

Is that in anyway analogous to the smartphone market? Not really, the killer apps for smartphones remain voice, data services (esp. text) and now the browser. As much as some companies (like Nokia) keep making a pigs ear out of the browser, this seems like an environment which is much more open to having a wide variety of platforms.

4
0

Windows an OS

Windows wasn't an OS until NT came along.

Anything up to 3.xx was a GUI shell on top of MS-DOS. And even then, the whole 95-98-ME line was the same.

3
0
Silver badge

Don't remember MSDOS being unstable either

MSDOS was an incredibly primitive, retarded OS but there was so little of it I don't ever recall thinking of it as unstable. Crap yes, unstable no. If a game / app crashed, you blamed the game / app because its interaction with the OS was minimal. Mostly I remember the perverse pleasure of optimizing my autoexec.bat and config.sys to maximize the amount of memory

3
1
Coat

Short memories, eh?

I remember being fairly happy with 3.3 and later 4.01, but 5.x was complete shit in terms of stability with the introduction of EMM, Himem.sys, et al. Went straight from 4 -> 6.2 when it came out without really missing a beat. Who could afford a hard drive over 100MB anyway?

Mine's the one the <strike>floppies</strike> drink coasters in the pocket...

2
0

windows an os?

Windows 3, 95, 98 is a gui for dos, same a mac os is gui for unix. The other variant in mobile world domination is the current stronghold of Ms in the enterprise market. This will force many to use win7 phones and in 2030 it may well be the no 1 mobile. In th 80's, enterprise were running mainframes, not exactly what your average home User would have in his lounge room.

0
3
Anonymous Coward

Eh?

If other dont have any problems, how can it be Android that has the problem?

0
1
Boffin

"Archimedes" didn't catch on...

Whilst it is technically true that the Archimedes didn't have the same level of success as the BBC Micro, we shouldn't forget that the CPU designed specifically to power Acorns "next generation" of computers (which became the Archimedes), is now the all pervasive ARM chip we find all over the mobile space today.

With that in mind, clearly the legacy of the Archimedes was far greater than that of the BBC Micro.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Surely not

Ctrl O 4 4 to enable the printer.

J 103 <return>

I'm getting old. What an epic operating system C/PM was. I loved my school's RM380Zzzzzz I wrote so much file based assembler, including a rudimentary space invader game and a dating site. I

Am I old? Am I sad?

Yes.

2
0
Thumb Up

RIM Job

Surely the Blackberry is the typewriter of the 80s world.

Based on very old tech (the original Crackberries used the pager network FFS); have a proper keyboard (just like your old electric IBM typewriter!) and surprisingly difficult to dislodge from the office of the 80s. And, like typewriters, Crackberries only really do one thing well.

3
3
Jobs Horns

Paradox

The people who wish Windows Phone 7 dead are also the same people who say Microsoft will die without a mobile platform.

If this is true, why exactly should the company, with $40 billion in the bank, not spend every cent to ensure their survival?

Windows Phone 7 will succeed, even if Microsoft has to pay $100,000 to buy every app in the iPhone app store (and they will still have change left over).

1
3
Silver badge

Re: Paradox

I don't *wish* Windows 7 Phone dead. I just think it is a statement of fact. MS won't die without a mobile platform, as all the other mobile platforms have Exchange Activesync as their preferred email protocol.

The reason Windows 7 Phone will die is that it is simply too late to the game. It isn't going to get to the same level of functionality as other platforms until probably about v9, and by that time, it will be too late. The network effect will work against it. Developers won't write for a platform that nobody uses, and people won't buy into a platform where there are no apps available.

Microsoft will continue as a niche player in the server market - with Exchange, Sharepoint and Small Business Server as their strong products, and as market leader in the desktop market, though tablets will make inroads into the home market and the mobile worker market.

1
0
Silver badge

Re : Paradox

A well-run company should return the $40 billion to its shareholders if it thought it had to spend all of it just to survive

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.