Ibm Os And Modern Era Windows Computer Science Essay

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The partnership between IBM and Microsoft led to the development of OS/2, which was intended as a successor to PC-DOS, and helped to introduce a second generation of personal computers. Due to different visions and varying business practices and philosophies, they parted ways. While IBM continued to develop, release, and support the various versions of the OS/2 operating system until the end of 2006, Windows went on to focus on and develop the Widows franchise and brand base.

During the OS/2 lifecycle, IBM released numerous versions of the operating system. These versions included: OS/2 1.0; OS/2 1.1.0; OS/2 1.20SE; OS/2 1.20 EE; OS/2 1.30SE; OS/2 1.30 EE; OS/2 2.0; OS/2 2.10; OS/2 2.11; OS/2 3.0; OS/2 Warp Version 3; OS/2 Warp Connect; OS/2 Warp Server; and OS/2 Warp 4. IBM made the decision to discontinue its sole development and support of the OS/2 operating system. Today, it is sold by the brand name of eComStation by Serenity Systems.

Microsoft went on to build the Windows empire. Today, Windows accounts for the majority of operating systems in use and included pre-packaged with new PCs. Although the versions of Windows have been numerous, only Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 will be discussed. These are what will be referred to as modern era Windows.

First, IBM's OS/2 operating system lifecycle will be discussed, noting that there is some overlap between the development and release of IBM OS/2 products and pre-modern era Microsoft Windows products. Then, the discussion will move to modern era Window operating system versions.

IBM's OS/2

Created jointly by Microsoft and IBM, but later developed by IBM exclusively, OS/2 was intended as a successor to the PC-DOS operating system. OS/2 was an abbreviation for Operating System 2. It was developed for the new second generation of IBM PCs, known as Personal System 2 or PS/2. OS/2 development, originally known by the code-name CP-DOS, began in August 1985 with the signing of the Joint Development Agreement between Microsoft and IBM (Microsoft Operating System/2â„¢ With Windows Presentation Manager Provides Foundation for Next Generation of Personal Computer Industry, 1987).

IBM introduced the PC-AT in 1984 as the first PC to use the 80286 processor, which was designed for multitasking. Although IBM had contacted Microsoft to create the first multitasking operating system, Microsoft tried to steer IBM away from the development for the 80286 processor, calling it "brain dead." Instead, Microsoft wanted to develop the OS/2 operating system for the 80386 process that was under development at Intel. Eventually, IBM's Entry Systems Division (ESD) and Microsoft would work closely to produce OS/2. Both were working on other independent projects. Microsoft's Windows operating system was being developed at the same time. IBM was developing TopView, a DOS add-on that allowed text mode multitasking (Both, 1997).

OS/2 1.0, code name CP-DOS (OS/2 Timeline 1987-1997, 2010) was available in text mode only (O/S2 1.0, 2010). It was announced in April 1987 (OS/2 1.0, 2010) and released in December 1987. OS/2 had the distinction of being the very first operating system to provide built-in hardware support (Both, 1997). It allowed only one program on screen, but would allow others to run in the background. The sessions were limited and permitted DOS programs with a maximum disk size of 32 MB. All 1.x versions could run on 80286 and 80386 machines, but were developed specifically for 80286 machines. The new Application Program Interface (API) was developed to control video display (VIO), as well as keyboard and mouse actions. Previously, the BIOs or hardware needed to be accessed directly. Video and keyboard API subsets were, also, included as development tools (OS/2 1.0, 2010).

When released in October 1988, OS/2 1.0 Standard Edition (SE) included a new graphical user interface (GUI), known as Presentation Manager. The GUI permitted users to interact with the operating system in a manner much friendlier than the DOS command line environment. FAT hard drive support was included, which enabled a large physical drive into multiple logical hard drives, supporting up to 2GB (Both, 1997).

OS/2 1.10 Extended Edition (EE) was announced alongside OS/2 1.10SE and released in early 1989. The new Database Manager, a multi-tasking relational database, and Communication Manager were included. IBM mainframes and midrange customers were provided with multiple 3270 and 5250 emulation sessions by the Communications Manager (Both, 1997).

OS/2 1.20SE and OS/2 1.20EE were released in November 1989. OS/2 1.20EE offered an improved Presentation Manager. The High Performance File System (HPFS) was made available for the first time. It was more efficient, faster, and offered greater data integrity than FAT. The new addition of an interpretive programming language, known as REXX debuted, as well (Both, 1997).

During this time, OS/2 2.0 and OS/2 3.0 were being developed. OS/2 2.0 would be the first true 32-bit operating system. It was designed to work on 80386 processors. As a result, it was no longer compatible with 80286 processors. The intent in early development stages for OS/2 3.0 was to be a network version and possess the characteristic of being platform independent. It was built upon a microkernel, which enabled a system to ignore the type of hardware on which it was running. This enabled OS/2 3.0 to run on multiple processors with a change of the microkernel hardware abstraction lay. Examples of processors include Intel, Motorola, DES, and SU (Both, 1997).

In 1990, between the releases of Windows 3.0 and OS/2 1.3, IBM and Microsoft began having disagreements surrounding their partnership. Part of the strain resulted from Microsoft's realization that Microsoft Windows products could generate more revenue than OS/2. The inclusion of Windows 3.0 and MS-DOS with virtually every new computer was a financial windfall for Microsoft (Hormby, 2005). Microsoft cut back on OS/2, accordingly. Rather than focusing on OS/2 development, attention and resources were allocated to the Windows franchise base (Thurrott, 2003).

Also, contributing to the eventual breakup were several technical and practical reasons. There were differences in culture and vision. IBM sought to utilize its own OS/2 hardware, while Microsoft preferred a more open system approach. If IBM was to get its way, none of Microsoft's features would be supported on its IBM hardware. Microsoft programmers disapproved of productivity being measured by the number of code lines written (Gates, Myhrvold, Rinearson, 1995).

There were differences in API. OS/2 was announced as Windows 2.0 was near completion and the API developed. IBM requested that the API be significantly changed for OS/2 (Letwin, 1995). IBM insisted on supporting the Intel 80286 processor, while Microsoft insisted on supporting the Intel 80386 processor. By late 1990, the disagreements intensified and IBM seized OS/2.1x and OS/2 2.0 development. Microsoft assumed responsibility for Windows and OS/2 3.0 development. After separation, Microsoft's OS/2 Version 3 became known as Windows NT (Both, 1997).

IBM wrote OS/2 1.30SE and OS/2 1.30EE in its entirety, though some Microsoft code was used and later removed. Removal of the Microsoft code made these versions smaller, faster, and more stable. More device drivers were made available than with previous versions. Some new and improved features were included, such as enhanced video drivers with high resolution up to 1024x768; an improved swapping algorithm; LazyWrite added to HPFS file system; more easily read fonts for command prompt sessions; Adobe Type 1 fonts. It should, also, be noted that OS/2 1.30 added REXX, which had been available only in the EE versions, previously (Both, 1997).

In April of 1992, OS/2 2.0, code name Cruiser (OS/2 Timeline 1987-1997, 2010), was released and became the first 32-bit operating system for PCs. The addition of the Virtual DOS Machine (VDMs) enabled AS/2 to run multiple DOS programs and the Windows operating system simultaneously, but behaved as though it were running on separate computers. This was possible due to IBM's licensed version of Windows 3.1, known as Win-OS/2 (Both, 1997).

OS/2 2.10, code name Borg (OS/2 Timeline 1987-1997, 2010), was released in May 1993. It included a new, quicker 32-bit graphics subsystem, as well as TrueType fonts for Win-OS/2 sessions. The new Multimedia Presentation manager (MMPM/2) permitted sound and video multimedia capabilities. In addition, PCMCIA support for laptop computers, as well as Advanced Power Management (APM) made their debuts with OS/2 2.10. Power consumption and extended battery life were made possible through the APM BIOS (Both, 1997).

In an effort to gain more market share in 1993, IBM released OS/2 2.1. By reducing the price, IBM could entice Window users over to OS/2. It should be noted that this version did not include Win-OS/2. As a result, OS/2 2.1 relied upon the pre-installed Windows 3.1 to permit the OS/2 operating system to execute Windows applications. This was made possible by two steps. First, the Windows SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI files had to be modified. Second, Windows 3.1 code would be loaded into memory so OS/2 could control windows code in the VDM (Both, 1997).

In an October 1994 move with the OS/2 Warp Version 3 release, known as OS Warp for Windows, IBM relied upon Windows 3.1, rather than its own Win-OS/2 to execute Windows applications. Later, IBM released OS/3 Warp 3 with Win-OS/2. Additional device drivers were added to enable the operating system to run with most of the PCs and peripherals available within the consumer market. This was made possible through the installation of 4GB of RAM. Enhancements were made to increase print performance and the Workplace Shell's functionality and performance, as well as support for PCMCI and multimedia (Both, 1997).

OS/2 Warp, also, included TCP/IP and Internet communications. Warp users could long on and surf the net through the Internet Access Kit (IAK). The Web Explorer provided access to the World Wide Web, though it was not as feature rich or as flexible as NetScape, the industry leader at the time. Text mode and graphical FTO applications permitted file transfer. E-Mail was provided by Ultimail. This version shipped with a BonusPak CD-ROM, which contained several OS/2 applications. This was not true of previous versions. This integrated set of application, known as IBM Works, included a spreadsheet, word processor, database, report generator, and charting program (Both, 1997).

Warp Connect was released in 1995. By combining Warp 3 features with new connectivity and tools, client workstations could share resources with other network users. These were known as the Warp Connect Peer Functions. LAN Server 4.0 permitted access to more server environments (Both, 1997).

Warp Server was released in early1996. It combined the power and functionality of Warp 3 with the network capabilities of IBM's LAN Server 4.0 product. It delivered an integrated platform for the emerging application server environment, as well as a complete set of traditional file and print services. According to Both, it provided an integrated package of OS/2 Warp LAN Server 4.0, SystemView for OS/2, remote access, advanced backup disaster and recovery, and a new printing capability that allowed printing postscript files on non-postscript printers (Both, 1997).

Released in September 1996, Warp 4, code name Merlin (OS/2 Timeline 1987-1997, 2010), debuted with a new Workplace Shell appearance. New features included Java, VoiceType Navigation, and dictation. It became known at IBM as the "Universal Client". Aptly named, it provided simultaneous connectivity to almost all network packages (Both, 1997).

OS/2 Warp 4.0 was the last release of the OS/2 operating system. The final version of its server edition was IBM OS/2 Warp Server for e-Business (WSeB) or Version 4.5. Upon realization that IBM was looking to abandon the OS/2 operating system, Bob St. John of Serenity Systems suggested that an OEM should create its own client. They could use the existing OS/2 client and add their own improvements as warranted (St. John, 1999).

IBM no longer markets OS/2. Standard support was discontinued on December 31, 2006. Today, Serenity Systems sells OS/2 under the brand name eComStation, but is developed by IBM, Serentity, Mensys, various third party companies and individuals. According to Serentiy, profitability will determine the continuing life or death of eComStation (Coffee, 1999). OS Warp, 3, 4, and 4.5, as well as eComStation as guests, are supported by VirtualBox from Oracle Corporation (Virtual Box, 2010).


Windows 2000

Windows 2000, known as Windows NT 5.0 during development, was released on February 1, 2000. Its primary focus was networking and stability for business users. (Gates Ushers in Next Generation of PC Computing With Launch of Windows 2000, 2000). Originally, Windows 200 was to replace Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0. Instead, Windows Second Edition was released in 1999. It was an updated version of Windows 98 (Thurrott, 1999).

Windows 95 and Windows 98 users could upgrade to Windows 2000. It was not intended for home users. Six editions were released: Professional; Server; Advanced Server; Datacenter Server; Advanced Server Limited Edition; and Datacenter Server Limited Edition (Windows 2000, 2010). The Limited Edition versions were such due to running on 64-bit Intel Itanium microprocessors. The Professional Edition was meant for individual PCS and corresponds to Windows NT Workstation (Windows 2000, 2010). It offered greater security and stability through the support of up to two processes and utilization of up to 4GB or RAM (System requirements for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems, 2007).

Windows Server was the same as NT Server, while Advanced Server was meant for larger networks and corresponded to NT Advanced Server (Windows 2000, 2010). It shared the same user interface with the Professional Edition. Server roles and the execution of infrastructure and application settings were made available through additional components. For the first time, the dynamic registration of IP address could occur, which was made possible through the new Domain Name Server. One to four processors could be supported (System requirements for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems, 2007).

Advanced Server offered clustering infrastructure for high availability and scalability of applications and services. The Microsoft Cluster Server in Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise edition allowed support for TCP/IP load balancing and enhanced two-mode server cluster (Microsoft Cluster Service Installation Resources, 2009). Data Center was meant for very large networks and did have an NT counterpart (Windows 2000, 2010). Although its system requirements were normal, Data Center was designed to handle advanced, fault-tolerant and scalable hardware (System requirements for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems, 2007).

Although each edition was targeted to a different market, they shared a core set of features, which included system utilities such as Microsoft Management Console and standard system administration applications (Windows 2000, 2010), as well as supporting the Windows NT file system, NTFS 3.0 (New Capabilities and Features of the NTFS 3.0 File System, 2006), the Encrypting File System, and basic and dynamic disk storage (Disk Management, 2010). Additional features within the Windows 2000 Server family included Active Directory services, Distributed File System, and fault-redundant storage volumes (Windows 2000 Server Family, 2010).

Many of Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE features were introduced into the NT line, in addition to adding many of its own features and enhancements (Windows 2000, 2010). Some of the Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE features introduced were Windows Desktop Update, Internet Explorer 5, Outlook Express, NetMeeting, Windows Driver Model, Internet Connection Sharing, Windows Media Play, and WebDAV support (Windows 2000, 2010). New features that were common across all editions were NTFS 3.0 (New Capabilities and Features of the NTFS 3.0 File System, 2010), the Microsoft Management Console (Microsoft Management Console - Overview, 2010), Automated System Recovery, UDF support, the encrypting File System (Implementing the Encrypting File System in Windows 2000, 2010), Logical Disk Manager (Disk Manager, 2010), Image Color Management 2.0 (Windows 2000 To Include New On-Screen And Printed Scalable Color Solution, 1999), support for PostScript 3-based printers (How to troubleshoot the Data Protection API, 2007), OpenType and Type 1 PostScript font support (Windows 2000 To Include New On-Screen And Printed Scalable Color Solution, 1999), the Data Protection API (How to troubleshoot the Data Protection API, 2007), an LDAP/Active Directory-enable AddressBook (How to Configure the Address Book to Query Users Contained in Active Directory, 2007), usability enhancements and multi-language and local support.

The Active Directory and a domain model replacement were the most significant features. All server versions were expanded to include Terminal Services, which was previously only available as a separate edition of NT 4. Features, such as an improved Device Manager, Windows Media Player, and a revised DirectX were features carried over from Windows 98 (Windows 2000, 2010).

Windows File Protection was introduced to protect critical system files, while the System File Checker introduced users to the ability to perform a scan of those critical system files. Windows File Protection prevents programs other than Microsoft's updates from modifying system files (Description of the Windows File Protection Feature, 2009). System File check provided two functions. First, it performed a manual scan for System file integrity. Second, it could repair them by one of two methods. The first method was through a restoration from a cache stored in a separate "DLLCACHE" directory. The second method was through a restoration from an original media (Description of the Windows 2000 System File Checker, 2007).

Windows XP

Originally known as codename Whistler, Windows XP is short for Windows Experienced (Microsoft Windows XP, 2010). Intended to replace Windows 2002 and Windows ME, Windows XP was released on October 25, 2001 and was based on the stable and reliable NT platform (Yang, 2009). Vista introduced the Windows NT 5.1 kernel to the consumer market to replace the aging 16/32-bit branch (Windows XP, 2010).

Its design was to benefit and attract users who were not familiar with all of Windows features and introduced several new abilities that were to make the Windows experience easier for those users (Microsoft Windows XP, 2010). Unfortunately, the initial release received considerable criticism, especially for security. This led to the release of three major Service Packs: Service Pack 1 was released September 2002; Service Pack 2 was released August 2004; Service Pack 3 was released in April 2008. Service Pack 2 is noted for the significant improvements that led to the widespread adoption of XP among home and business users. Until the release of Windows Vista, Windows XP was the longest lasting OS among all previous versions. (Microsoft Windows XP, 2010).

Originally, it was shipped with Home and Professional editions. Later, Media Center Edition and the Tablet PC Edition were released. New features included the new "Luna" GUI and redesigned Start Menu. The ease of reading fonts on LCD monitors was improved through the new Clean Type font. The taskbar was regrouped, while the new Common Tasks Windows Explorer sidebar was introduced. Mediums, such as video, music, and Internet, received enhanced integration. CD-R and CD-RW drivers became supported. A desktop could be remotely controlled over a network or Internet. Network management tools were introduced to provide monitory and changes within network resources, as well as potential increased (Windows XP, 2010).

In 2001, Windows XP Profession, Home Edition, and Windows XP 64-bit Edition were introduced, while Windows XP Media Center Edition, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition were introduced in 2002. The Profession Edition brought the solid foundation of Windows 2000, while enhancing reliability, security, and performance. A new visual look was featured. Business and advanced home users were treated to remote desktop support and an encrypting file system. System Restore was introduced, along with more advanced networking capabilities. Wireless 802.1x networking support, Windows Messenger, and Remote Assistance provided mobile users with increased mobility and productivity (Windows History, 2010).

The Home Edition introduced three new applications. They included the Network Setup Wizard, Windows Media Player, and Windows MovieMaker. The 64-bit Edition provided large amounts of memory for specialized applications, such as 3D animation and special effects for movies (Windows Home Edition, 2010).

The XP Media Edition was released for home computing and entertainment. It added digital media and entertainment options; enabled home users to browse the Internet, watch live television, communicate with friends and family, enjoy music and video collections, watch DVDs, and work from home. The XP Table PC Edition was released specifically for notebook computers possessing handwriting recognition capabilities (Windows XP, 2010).

Windows Vista

Known by codename "Longhorn," Windows Vista was released to business customers on November 30, 2006 (Windows Vista, 2010) and to consumers on January 30, 2007 after five plus years in development (Yang, 2009) as an upgrade to Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 2000 (Microsoft Windows Vista, 2010) . It brought a dramatic new look and was designed to help create an overall better experience (Microsoft Windows Vista, 2010). Vista introduced a new look to Windows Explorer, which was inspired by the new Internet Explorer 7. This resulted in better organization and file operations. More esthetic features included new icons, redesigned Start Menu, Thumbnail Preview, and Windows Flip 3D. Productivity was increased through the addition of Windows Instant Search. Security was enhanced through the addition of Windows Backup and Restore Center. Windows Photo Gallery was introduced as a one stop shop to store, organize, and manipulate photo images (Yang, 2009). In addition, Vista enhanced security by introducing the User Account Control, a new restricted user mode that replaced the "administrator-by-default" philosophy of Windows XP (Windows Visa, 2010).

Work on Vista (Longhorn) began in May 2001. It was expected to ship sometime in late 2003 as a minor release between Windows XP and Blackcomb (now known as Windows 7), which was planned to be the next major OS release. Many of Blackcomb's features were included in Longhorn (Vista). Since this was not the original plan, these changes to Vista resulting in multiple delayed release dates (Yang, 2009). With feature creep a major concern, Microsoft officially announced revised plans August 27, 2004. The original Longhorn was abandoned. A new development began with the Windows Server 2003 Server Pack 1 codebase as the foundation (Lesson 2 - Windows NT System Overview, 2010). As a result, previous announced features, such as WinFS, were dropped or postponed. The new Security Development Lifecycle, a new software development, was included. It was to serve as a solution for Windows codebase security concerns (Featured Security Content, 2010).

An unprecedented beta-test program was started in July 2005, after Longhorn was officially named Windows Vista. In September, beta testers started receiving regular Community Technology Previews (CRP) with the first being distributed at the 2005 Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, while subsequent releases were for beta testers and MSDN subscribers. On February 22, 2006, with the release of the "February CTP," Vista was deemed feature-completed. The work that occurred between that build and the final release focused on stability, performance, application and driver capability, and documentation. The first build made available to the general public was through Microsoft's Customer Preview Program by way of Beta 2, which was released in late May 2006, and was downloaded by over five million people (Thurrott, 2006).

Vista's improved security was a primary design goal for Vista (Ricadela, 2006), which was driven by Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative, which aims to improve public trust in its products, and resulted in a number of new safety and security features (Trustworthy Computing, 2010). The most visible and significant of these changes is the User Account Control or UAC, which is a security technology that makes it possible for users to use their system with fewer privileges by default. The UAC's primary purpose is to stop malware from making unauthorized system changes. When an action requiring administrative rights is requested, the user is prompted for an administrator name and password, while administrators are simply prompted to confirm the pending action (Understanding and Configuring User Account Control in Windows Vista).

Six editions were made available: Starter (only in developing countries); Home Basic; Home Premium; Enterprise (only available to large businesses and enterprises); Business; and Ultimate. Except for the Starter edition, all others were available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Prior to the 64-bit version, memory was limited to 4 gigabytes (Windows Vista, 2010).

Vista has been criticized and has received a good deal of negative press. Sources of negativity included high system requirements, lack of compatibility with prior window versions, and excessive use of User Account Control authorization boxes (Keizer, 2008). New digital rights management technologies were included to restrict the copying of protected digital media. Licensing terms became more restrictive. All the criticisms and negative press did not hurt sales. Upon the release of windows 7 in October 2009, Vista was reported to be the second most widely utilized operating system on the Internet. At the time, it held 18.6% total operating system market share, which is second only to Windows XP with approximately 63.3% of market share (Global Web Stats, 2009).

Windows 7

Under development for three years, Windows 7 was released on October 22, 2009 to the public, but began manufacturing on July 22, 2009. This most recent operating system is intended to be more compatible with applications and hardware, which its predecessor, Windows Vista, was not. The OS possesses multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows shell, a new taskbar, known as the Superbar, a home networking system called Homegroup, and various performance improvements. While applications, such as Windows Movie Maker, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, and Windows Photo Gallery, were included as part of previous OS versions, they are not included as part of Windows 7. Rather, they are included as part of Windows Live Essentials Suite at no charge (Yang, 2009).

Originally known as Blackcomb, Windows 7 started as a successor to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Major features were to include an emphasis on searching and querying data and an advanced storage system, known as WinFS. Blackcomb was sidetracked by an interim, minor release, codenamed Longhorn, which was announced for 2003 (Lettice, 2001).

Consequently, the major features slated for Blackcomb became part of Longhorn due to three major viruses taking advantage of flaws in Windows operating systems in a short time frame. Longhorn was temporarily shelved while Microsoft focused on developing new service packs for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Longhorn eventually resurfaced and emerged as Windows Vista in August 2004 (Yang, 2009).

In early 2006, Blackcomb resurfaced as Vienna and again in 2007 as Windows 2007, with the official Windows 7 name being announced in 2008. In January 2008, the first external release to select Microsoft partners was with Milestone 1, Build 6519. The Windows 7 Beta was leaked onto the Internet on December 27, 2008 via BitTorrent (Lettice, 2001). The 64-bit version of Windows 7 Beta, known as build 7000, was leaked onto the web on January 7, 2009. Unfortunately, some torrents were infected with a Trojan (Yang, 2009).

The Windows 7 Beta was officially released for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers as an ISO image following an announcement at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. On January 9, 2009, the Beta was publicly released. The initial plan was to allow downloads to be available for 2.5 million people, but was delayed and extended through February 12, 2009, due to high traffic. Product keys for the Beta were made available through August 1, 2009 (Yang, 2009).

MSDN and TechNet subscribers and Connect Program participants could obtain the release candidate, known as build 7100, as of April 30, 2009, with access being granted to the general public on May 5, 2009, despite a leak via BitTorrent. It was available in five languages. In preparation of its expiration on June 1, 2010, shutdowns in two hour increments began on March 1, 2010 (Yang, 2009).

New features of Windows 7 included several new advancements, improvements, support, and applications, as well as a redesign. Advanced included those specific to touch and handwriting recognition. Improvements included those to multi-core processor and kernel performance, as well as boot performance and improved media features. Added support was included for systems using multiple graphic cards from different vendors, as well as support for virtual hard disks and DirectAccess. New applications included a new version of Windows Media Center and a Gadget for Windows Media Center, as well as the XPS Essential Pack and Windows PowerShell. The Calculator was redesigned with multiline capabilities, including Programmer and statistic modes along with unit conversion (Yang, 2009).

There were, also, major changes to the Control Panel within Windows 7. Several included the addition of the Display Color Calibration Wizard, ClearType Text Turner, and Gadgets. The Windows Security received a name change is now known as the Windows Action Center, because it integrates security and maintenance (Yang, 2009).

The Quick Launch toolbar has been replaced with pinning applications to the taskbar. Pinned application buttons have been integrated with task buttons and enable the Jump Lists feature, allowing easy access to common tasks. In addition, task bar buttons can be reordered. Included is a small rectangular button to the far right of the system clock, known as the Show Desktop Icon, which is part of the new Aero Peek feature. Hovering over the button provides a quick look at the desktop by making all visible windows transparent. All windows can be minimized by clicking once and restored by clicking a second time (Yang, 2009).

By dragging a window to the top of a screen, the Aero Snap feature allows automatic maximization of the window. For comparison, documents and files can be "snapped" to either side of the screen. The system restores a file or document's previous state automatically when a user moves maximized windows. Such function can be accomplished through keyboard shortcuts, as well. The window borders and taskbar remain translucent, rather than turning opaque when maximized, unlike Windows Vista's Aero (Yang, 2009).

Windows 7 includes new features for developers, as well as users. They include a new networking Application Programming Interface (API) with support for building SOAP-based (Simple Object Access Protocol) web services in machine code, as opposed to .NET-based WCF (Windows Communication Foundation) web services (Yang, 2009). API facilities interaction between different software programs, which is similar to the manner in which a user interface facilitates interaction between computers and humans. SOAP is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in implementing Web Services in computer networks, which relies on XML (Extendible Markup Language) for its message format, while relying on other Application Layer protocols for message negotiation and transmission (Soper, Mueller, Prowse, 2010)

Application install times were shortened. Pesky UAC prompt boxes were reduced. A new Linguistics Services API was included to accommodate and improve globalization. Internet Spades, Internet Backgammon, and Internet Checkers had been removed in Vista, but reintroduced in Windows 7. Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Play are standard applications included in Windows 7 (Yang, 2009).

Windows 7 still supports, like Windows Vista, the ability to disable Windows components, with additions including Windows Media Center, Windows Internet Explorer, Windows Gadget Platform, Windows Search, and Windows Media Player. Thirteen additional sound schemes have been added. The newly renamed Windows Virtual PC, previously known as Microsoft Virtual PC, was included in the Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. It permits multiple Windows environments to run simultaneously. The mounting of a virtual hard disk (VHD) as a normal data storage is supported, as well as allowing Windows to boot from a VHD, which is due to the new bootloader. The bootloader is only available with Enterprise and Ultimate editions (Yang, 2009).

Certain programs and capabilities, once part of Vista, have been changed or removed from Windows 7. A few of these include some task bar features, classic Start Menu, features of Windows Explorer and Windows Media Player, Inkball, and Ultimate Extras. Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Mai, and Windows Calendar have been excluded, but are included at no additional charge in the separate Windows Live Essentials package (Yang, 2009).

Windows 7 has sold 175 million copies as of July 22, 2010. Thus, to date, it is Microsoft's fastest selling OS. The NPD Group, the leading North American market research company, reported that during April 2010, "77% of PCs sold at U.S. retailers were pre-installed with the 64-bit edition of Windows 7" (Yang, 2009).

Windows 7 reviews have been extremely positive. Reputable technology publications, such as PC World, Engadget, CNET, PC Magazine, and Maximum PC, have released above average ratings. For example, PC Magazine rated Windows 7 as "4 out of 5", stating that "it is a 'big improvement' over Vista, with few compatibility problems, a retooled taskbar, simpler home networking, and faster startup". PC World named Windows 7 as one of the best products of the year, while Maximum PC gave a "9 out of 10 rating", calling Windows 7 " a 'massive leap forward' in usability and security", praising the new Taskbar as "worth the price of admission alone" (Yang, 2009).

While the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions are available for consumer retail sale in most countries, six different Windows 7 editions are available. The developing world and enterprise use are the focus of the other editions. All editions support the 32-bit processor architecture. The remaining editions, except Starter, support 64-bit processor architecture. More notable is the fact that a license determines activated features. A license upgrade will permit the unlocking of features without enduring a re-installment of the operating system (Yang, 2009).

IBM and Microsoft were two of the major players and contributors in the PC industry. Each helped to pioneer the PC operating system, which allowed computers to evolve into the powerful, highly functional machines we all use today. Each has made their own contributions to the industry, as well as endured and learned from the mistakes and successes incurred along the way. Each has made their niche in the industry. While Microsoft focuses on the Windows brands and its operational divisions, IBM focuses on offering a vast array of products and services to help businesses become more innovative, competitive, and efficient. Despite their current missions being so different, they started virtually in the same place and share some of the same history. It all started with the operating system.


beta: a test for a computer product prior to commercial release

FAT32 file system: File Allocation Table that contains an entry for each cluster on the disk, where the number refers to the number of bits used for the cluster entries in the table

graphical user interface (GUI): an interface that uses graphics as compared to a command-driven interface

kernel: portion of the operating system that is responsible for interacting with the hardware

local area network (LAN): computer network covering a small physical area, like a home, office, or small groups of buildings

MS-DOS: an operating system for x86-based personal computers

RAM (random access memory): memory modules on the motherboard containing microchips used to temporarily hold data and programs while the CPU process both


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