Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Does the OS matter anymore?

Filed under
OS

With desktop market share still ranging from miniscule to small, relatively speaking, there's an enormous interest in Microsoft alternatives such as Linux and Mac OS X.

Most of us have been conditioned for so long that the Microsoft "platform" is essential that we scarcely pause to think about alternatives. But as long as we can perform our essential tasks - print that report, send that email - does the operating system really matter?

Today, most applications offer a browser-based interface and most of the popular browsers - Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera - can be had free of charge in versions that run on non-Microsoft platforms. And running Outlook Web Access, for example, on an Apple Mac using either Microsoft's own Internet Explorer 5.0 or Apple's Safari browser is 99 per cent the same as running it on a Windows machine. With a few minor adjustments - such as holding the control key while clicking to download an attachment - you are on your way.

Basic email - most people's key application - essentially is operating system independent already. Those who require synchronization with central servers, such as Exchange, have a bit more to deal with - but more about that later.

In terms of importance, "office" functions usually are right up there on the list alongside email. While most of us are married to "Office 2003," we typically don't need to be. The document formats used for Word and Excel can be manipulated by "freeware" office suites such as OpenOffice and NeoOffice/J that run on Linux and OS X. If you just can't live without Microsoft Office you can get Office: Mac 2004 that will give you highly compatible versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

In June 2005, Microsoft announced that the next version of Office - Office 12 - would introduce native XML file formats for Word (docx), Excel (xlx) and PowerPoint (pptx) that would - are you sitting down? - be "open" and even "documented." Thus, any current compatibilities are likely to disappear before too long.

But what about Access and Outlook on non-Microsoft platforms? There, things get more complicated. While there are quite a few good quality relational database offerings out there, if Access is a "must" then having a Windows operating system is a "must," as well.

Fortunately, these days, you can use products such as Microsoft's own Virtual PC for Mac or VMware's Workstation product for running on Linux. While this adds complexity and expense (you need to buy the virtualization product and license the Windows operating system) it does let you run a "native" Windows environment on your Mac or Linux machine. This provides the best bridge between the two worlds. And, at least in the case of Virtual PC, it is a breeze to share folders between the Mac and Windows environments.

Mac users of Exchange have another twist. Microsoft used to offer Outlook 2001 as a native client but in recent years replaced it with Entourage (as part of the office suite for Mac). While this is very compatible with Outlook 2003, it is not completely so. Core functions, such as messaging and scheduling, work fine but, for instance, public folder functions are somewhat limited.

Do operating systems matter?

In terms of short-term productivity, they probably do. Even easy systems such as a Mac take getting used to. And, if you need to reach out for help to your company's tech support for, say, getting your Citrix connection to work - well, you probably know better than to try. But most problems get resolved with a bit of experience.

Tolly is president of The Tolly Group, a strategic consulting and independent testing company. Source.

Doest matter

It doesnt matter as long as it is Linux! Big Grin

re: doesn't matter

That's what my lilo boot message says! Pick one, any one - as long as it's linux!

of course that's all I got on here /now/. Big Grin

----
You talk the talk, but do you waddle the waddle?

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

Red Hat News

Leftovers: Ubuntu

Linux Devices

  • AsteroidOS 1.0 Alpha on the Asus Zenwatch 3
    In a previous article, I published a small userspace image and Linux kernel for the Zenwatch 3 that enables root access with SSH over USB on the watch. By now, I reached my initial goal to get AsteroidOS, the alternative Android Wear operating system, running on the Zenwatch 3. Similar to SailfishOS and Ubuntu Touch, AsteroidOS uses the original Android kernel - a patched Linux kernel - with a GNU/Linux userspace that, in turn, also uses some of the original, closed-source Android libraries to access certain hardware like the GPU. As the Android libraries expect a different software ecosystem, e.g., a different C library called bionic, we cannot simply call the Android libraries from within a common GNU/Linux application. Instead, we need an additional software layer that translates between the Android and the common GNU/Linux world. This layer is called libhybris.
  • How Ironic: Harman Kardon’s Microsoft Cortana Speaker Is Powered by Linux
    Harman Kardon, the company recently acquired by Samsung, has developed its very own Cortana speaker, which is very similar to the Amazon Echo but featuring Microsoft’s famous digital assistant. And since Cortana is the key feature of this little device, it only makes sense for Harman Kardon to turn to Windows 10 to power the device. And yet, it looks like the so-called Harman Kardon is actually running Linux.
  • MontaVista® Launches Carrier Grade eXpress®(CGX) 2.2 Linux® for 5G and IoT at MWC 2017
  • The Numbers Article for Mobile in 2017 - All the Statistics You Could Ask For
    Mobile is the hottest industry. Banking and payments are rushing to mobile. Governments doing healthcare and education with mobile. Travel from airlines to taxis to trains and busses to hotel bookings is going mobile. Your driver's licence is migrating to the mobile phone as are your keys to your home. And all the other big tech stories from Internet of Things (IoT) to 'Big Data' analytics to Cloud computing - are all dependent on mobile. And next week we have the massive industry event in Barcelona, Mobile World Congress. My brand new TomiAhonen Almanac 2017 is now finished and is released today. So this is the perfect time to do my annual 'State of Mobile' blog of the major statistics. What are the big numbers. Lets start with reach. Yes, mobile is by far the most widely-spread communication technology humankind has ever witnessed.
  • Tizen Store Expands Its Service Coverage to 222 Countries
    The Tizen Store, as the name suggests, is the Tizen Application Store for developers to publish their free and paid for Tizen apps. In April 2015, we saw the store expand it’s coverage to include 182 countries, which was mainly for FREE apps, but we saw this as setting the foundation for providing paid for apps further down the road.

Android Leftovers