I’ve been a “PC” user since I was in grade school. Well, technically, the first computer I owned was a hand-me-down Atari ST that had a broken printer and a flight simulator. That almost makes me a “Mac” user since it was based on the same hardware (Motorola 68K cpu). All of my (3) friends had computers, all PC’s running DOS, and their primary motivation was to play all of the cool adventure games from Sierra Entertainment. So, when I had a very unsuccessful time getting Conquests of Camelot to run on my Atari ST I was pretty motivated to join my geeky buddies. Oh the months of begging and pleading that followed, fun times indeed.
Nostalgia aside, I’ve been using a computer primarily for games (only around 98 did I start running other OS’s) for a large portion of my life. I started with MS-DOS 5.0 on a Packard Bell 386SX 20Mhz with 1MB shared memory:
All the while, I’ve never actually paid for an operating system. I bought a copy of SuSE Linux once, and a copy of FreeBSD at CompUSA years ago. Those were only $10 - $20 at most. Commercial OS’s have always been pretty pricey from my point of view, and they have only gotten more expensive over the years. What typically happens is I find a way to get the OS for free:
Vista - Free, I took a survey and ran some monitoring software for 3 months
XP - Free, I got an academic license from DVC
Windows 2000 Pro - Free, I got a copy when I worked at Great Entertaining.com. So I could “work from home”…
Windows 98SE - “Free”… a friend of a friend brought a few copies back from Taiwan.
Every OS before that was either OEM (like from a Packard Bell), or a friend let me copy it… there, I admit it. I used my friends copy of MS-DOS 6.20, Windows 3.11 as well. To be fair, it was so un-usable on my 486 that I had to remove it. It also took up a large portion of my 100MB Dae Woo hard drive.
So what has changed? Why did I actually BUY a copy??? It is not because of features or my love for Microsoft. It is for three reasons:
I have a copy of Vista Ultimate (64bit) that I got for FREE by taking a survey and running software for 3 months.
I have a Directx10 GFX card and a decent catalog of DX10 games now.
Getting a free and legitimate copy has become very difficult now.
With that, I was able to purchase the Upgrade edition which revoked my Vista product ID. I never used Vista because I disliked it, and it wouldn’t boot after its first round of updates. The install of Windows 7 was much nicer, and a lot quicker. I do enjoy its substantially faster boot times, even compared to XP, and it is really nice not to have to fetch drivers for all my hardware. Even the all-in-one canon printer we just got, it worked right off the bat which is normally unheard of in the Windows world.
There are a few things I wish Windows would do; mostly things that I enjoy from other coolers OS’s like FreeBSD and Linux:
Virtual CD/DVD devices - I still have to use a 3rd party tool to mount ISO’s
Mount Points - I HATE referring to device handles like ‘C:’ and ’D:‘, it reminds me of VMS
Support for the mouse wheel in everything. The Gnome environment excels at this. It is such a simple concept that I’m really amazed other OS’s don’t do it
Built-in SSH client - This is knit-picking, but it would be awesome to have
Cool GNU tools like md5sum, gunzip, tar, lynx, etc…
I can still accomplish all of the above with toolsets like gnuwin32, putty, etc.. it would have been nice not to rely on that.
Nice trip down memory lane, and how about that timeline huh? That took me a while to figure out, it is called SIMILE Timeline, and they had a nice example in their documentation. It’s fun to find new ways to represent information.