Are operating systems a dying breed?

October 15, 2009: 11:00 AM ET

As the launch of Windows 7 approaches, one executive ponders the relevance of the OS.

By Richard Muirhead, chairman and CEO, Tideway Systems

Muirhead argues that operating systems are evolving. Photo: Tideway

Muirhead argues that operating systems are evolving. Photo: Tideway

The perception is that operating systems are dying. In truth, they are evolving.

For years we've witnessed wars waged among major operating system vendors, with computer purchases hanging in the balance. Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows was a household name for people who didn't know what an operating system was, its popularity growing from the use of well-known, everyday applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint that other operating systems didn't have.

Increasingly, that war is now over and irrelevant.  Users can access similar applications more cheaply, simply and wherever they are directly via their Web browser – whether it's Google's (GOOG) Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer or something else – leaving them little reason to care what operating system is supporting them.

Today's winning sales pitch to the end is all about usability, flexibility and a complete solution.

So are operating systems dead? Not really. More

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