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Explo rer are examples o f co mpo nents o f these o perating systems. The co nsistent lo o k, f eel, and
f unctio nality that o perating systems enf o rce acro ss vario us pro grams help make it easier f o r users
to learn new so f tware, which reduces training co sts and o perato r erro r. See Figure 9.2 f o r similarities and dif f erences. Figure 9. 2 Differences bet ween t he Windows and Mac op erat ing s ys t ems are evident t hroughout t he us er int erface,
p art icularly when a p rogram int eract s wit h hardware. Operating systems are also designed to give pro grammers a co mmo n set o f co mmands to
co nsistently interact with the hardware. These co mmands make a pro grammer’s jo b easier by
reducing pro gram co mplexity and making it f aster to write so f tware while minimizing the
po ssibility o f erro rs in co de. Co nsider what an OS do es f o r the Wii game develo per. Nintendo ’s Wii
OS pro vides Wii pro grammers with a set o f co mmo n standards to use to access the Wiimo te, play
so unds, draw graphics, save f iles, and mo re. Witho ut this, games wo uld be a lo t mo re dif f icult to
write, they’d likely lo o k dif f erently, be less reliable, wo uld co st mo re, and there wo uld be f ewer
titles available. Similarly, when Apple pro vided develo pers with a co mmo n set o f ro bust, easy-to -use standards f o r
the iP ho ne and (via the App Sto re) an easy way f o r users to install these applicatio ns o n to p o f the
iP ho ne/ iP o d to uch/ iP ad’s o perating system (iOS), so f tware develo pment bo o med, and Apple
became hands-do wn the mo st versatile mo bile co mputing device available.The iP ho ne and iP o d
to uch OS is derived f ro m Apple’s Mac OS X o perating system. In Apple’s case so me fifty tho usand
apps became available thro ugh the App Sto re in less than a year. A go o d OS and so f tware develo pment platf o rm can catalyze netwo rk ef f ects (see Chapter 6 "Understanding Netwo rk
Ef f ects"). While the OS seems geeky, its ef f ective design has very strategic business implicatio ns! Figure 9. 3 Op erat ing Sys t em Market Share for Des kt op , Server, and Mobile Phones Source: H it s Link (des kt op , May 201 2), IDC (s erver, Q1 201 2), Gart ner (mobile, May 201 2), and IDC
(March 201 2). Not e t hat Android t ablet figure includes Kindle Fire. Firmware and Embedded Systems
Mo st perso nal co mputers have an o perating system installed o n their hard drives. This system
allo ws the OS to be replaced o r upgraded easily. But many smaller, special-purpo se co mputing
devices have their o perating systems installed o n no nvo latile memo ry, o f ten o n read-o nly
memo ry (ROM) chips. Co ntro l pro grams sto red o n chips are so metimes ref erred to as
f irmware. The OS in an iP o d, mo bile pho ne, o r yo ur TV’s set-to p bo x is mo st likely sto red as
f irmware. Yo ur P C also has a tiny bit o f f irmware that allo ws it to do very basic f unctio ns like
start-up (bo o t) and begin lo ading its o perating system f ro m disk. Ano ther term yo u might hear is embedded syst ems. As co mputing gets cheaper, specialpurpo se techno lo gy is increasingly beco ming embedded into all so rts o f devices like cars,
picture f rames, aircraf t engines, pho to co piers, and heating and air co nditio ning systems. The
so f tware pro grams that make up embedded systems are o f ten sto red as f irmware to o . Mo o re’s Law (see Chapter 5 "Mo o re’s Law: Fast, Cheap Co mputing and What It Means f o r the
Manager") enables embedded systems, and these systems can create real strategic value. The
Otis Elevato r Co mpany, a divisio n o f United Techno lo gies, uses embedded systems in its
pro ducts to warn its service centers when the f irm’s elevato rs, escalato rs, and mo ving walkways
need maintenance o r repair. This warning pro vides Otis with several key benef its: 1. Since pro ducts auto matically co ntact Otis when they need attentio n, these systems
generate a lucrative service business f o r the f irm and make it mo re dif f icult f o r third
parties to o f f er a co mpeting business servicing Otis pro ducts.
2. P ro ducts co ntact service technicians to perf o rm maintenance based o n exact needs (e.g.,
lubricant is lo w, o r a part has been used eno ugh to be replaced) rather than guessed
schedules, which makes service mo re co st-ef f ective, pro ducts less likely to break do wn, and
custo mers happier.
3. Any pro duct f ailures are immediately detected, with embedded systems typically
dispatching technicians bef o re a client’s pho ne call.
4. The data is f ed back to Otis’s R&D gro up, pro viding inf o rmatio n o n reliability and f ailure
so that engineers can use this inf o to design better pro ducts. Co llectively, so f tware embedded o n tiny chips yields very big benef its, f o r years helping Otis
remain at the to p o f its industry. K E Y TAK E AWAYS
The operating system (OS) controls a computer’s hardware and provides a common set of
commands for writing programs.
Most computing devices (enterprise‐class serv...
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This document was uploaded on 01/31/2014.
- Winter '14