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20 Whats For Windows?

From the mailbag: My tepid birthday greetings to Microsoft Windows and its smarter cousin, the Apple Macintosh OS, last week in my e-mail newsletter (what, you're not a subscriber?) drew a couple of e-mail replies -- actually less backchat than I expected.
From the mailbag: My tepid birthday greetings to Microsoft Windows and its smarter cousin, the Apple Macintosh OS, last week in my e-mail newsletter (what, you're not a subscriber?) drew a couple of e-mail replies -- actually less backchat than I expected.Steve Brown, bless him, rose to the bait and sent in the inevitable kneejerk "a plague on both Mac and Windows" message: "Too bad you forgot to mention the Amiga 1000 in your article. In 1986, the Amiga platform could EMULATE a MAC at about 1/3 FASTER than the MAC ran natively. And it offered graphics and a multi-threaded OS that was far superior to either the MAC or the PC at the time -- courtesy of its custom chipset."

Thanks, Steve. If I had a dollar for every time somebody's told me the Amiga was better than both the Mac and Windows PCs I could buy a real computer, maybe a MITS Altair 8800 or even a Simon. Kenneth Fleischer, a regular correspondent and the only author of Murfi in the known universe, made a good point about the success of PCs in general: "What distinguished for me the real difference between Macintoshes and PCs happened while I was using an XT clone running MS-DOS 5.0. Remember back then? I wished to add support for a 3¼-inch floppy, so I went out and bought a Teac drive and a mounting kit for installing it in a 5-inch bay (about thirty dollars, back then) at one store and a floppy controller with integral BIOS (about thirty dollars, too) at another. I had to set an IRQ and a memory-address range, I remember. It worked perfectly. Across the street from me, a Mac user with a free-flying pet bird had to replace her gunked-up floppy drive, and she spent $160 to do it."

Fleischer's point: the PC succeeded because it was an open standard. That's a lesson I wish Microsoft hadn't forgotten. If you haven't taken a look at the story on 20 Years of Windows and the related features you should. The screen shots alone are worth the price of admission.