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Unformatted text preview: er computers, PCs, phones, set‐top boxes, video
games, cars, the Mars Rover) have an operating system.
Some products use operating systems provided by commercial firms, while others develop their
own operating system. Others may leverage open source alternatives (see Chapter 10 "Software in Flux: Partly Cloudy and Sometimes Free").
Embedded systems are special‐purpose computer systems designed to perform one or a few
dedicated functions, and are frequently built into conventional products like cars, air
conditioners, and elevators.
Embedded systems can make products and services more efficient, more reliable, more
functional, and can enable entire new businesses and create or reinforce resources for
competitive advantage. QU E S TI ONS AND E XE RC I S E S
1. What does an operating system do? Why do you need an operating system? How do operating
systems make a programmer’s job easier? How do operating systems make life easier for end
2. How has the market for desktop, server, and mobile operating systems changed in recent years?
Do certain products seem to be gaining traction? Why do you think this is the case?
3. What kinds of operating systems are used in the devices that you own? On your personal
computer? Your mobile phone? The set‐top box on top of your television? Are there other
operating systems that you come into contact with? I f you can’t tell which operating system is in
each of these devices, see if you can search the I nternet to find out.
4. For your list in the prior question (and to the extent that you can), diagram the
hardware/software “layer cake” for these devices.
5. For this same list, do you think each device’s manufacturer wrote all of the software that you use
on these devices? Can you add or modify software to all of these devices? Why or why not? What
would the implications be for cost, security, complexity, reliability, updates and upgrades, and
the appeal of each device?
6. Some ATM machines use Windows. Why would an ATM manufacturer choose to build its systems
owing Windows? Why might it want to avoid this? Are there other non‐PC devices you’ve
encountered that were running some form of Windows?
7. What are embedded systems? When might firms want to install software on chips instead of on
a hard drive?
8. I t’s important to understand how technology impacts a firm’s strategy and competitive
environment. Consider the description of Otis elevator’s use of embedded systems. Which parts
of the value chain does this impact? How? Consider the “five forces”: How does the system
impact the firm’s competitive environment? Are these systems a source of competitive advantage? I f not, explain why not? I f they are, what kinds of resources for competitive
advantage can these kinds of embedded systems create?
9. Can you think of other firms that can or do leverage embedded systems? Provide examples and
list the kinds of benefits these might offer firms and consumers.
10. Research the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (or investigate if your nation has a similar
law), and the implications of this legislation for software developers and Web site operators.
Have firms been successfully sued when their software or Web sites could not be accessed by
users with physical challenges? What sorts of issues should developers consider when making
their products more accessible? What practices might they avoid? 9.3 Application Software
L E A RN I N G OBJ E C T I V E S
1. Appreciate the difference between desktop and enterprise software.
2. List the categories of enterprise software.
3. Understand what an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software package is.
4. Recogniz e the relationship of the DBMS (database system) to the other enterprise software
5. Recogniz e both the risks and rewards of installing packaged enterprise systems. Operating systems are designed to create a plat f orm so that pro grammers can write additio nal
applicatio ns, allo wing the co mputer to do even mo re usef ul things. While o perating systems
co ntro l the hardware, applicatio n so ftw are (so metimes ref erred to as so ftw are applicatio ns,
applicatio ns, o r even just apps) perf o rm the wo rk that users and f irms are directly interested in
acco mplishing. Think o f applicatio ns as the place where the users o r o rganizatio n’s real wo rk gets
do ne. As we learned in Chapter 6 "Understanding Netwo rk Ef f ects", the mo re applicatio n so f tware
that is available f o r a platf o rm (the mo re games f o r a video game co nso le, the mo re apps f o r yo ur
pho ne), the mo re valuable it po tentially beco mes. Deskt op sof t ware ref ers to applicatio ns installed o n a perso nal co mputer—yo ur bro wser, yo ur
Of f ice suite (e.g., wo rd pro cesso r, spreadsheet, presentatio n so f tware), pho to edito rs, and
co mputer games are all deskto p so f tware. Ent erprise sof t ware ref ers to applicatio ns that address the needs o f multiple, simultaneo us users in an o rganizatio n o r wo rk gro up. Mo st
co mpanies run vario us f o rms o f enterprise so f tware pro grams to k...
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This document was uploaded on 01/31/2014.
- Winter '14