\[Editor's Note: Do you have something to share with other Windows NT Magazine readers? We want to know about it. Write for Reader to Reader online, and you can tell others about your NT discoveries, comments, problems, solutions, and experiences. Email your contributions (700 words or less) to [email protected] along with your name and phone number. We edit submissions for style, grammar, and length. If we print your submission, you'll get $100.\]
Microsoft has taken a lot of heat from developers, consumers, writers, janitors, and others concerning its Windows NT (soon-to-be Windows 2000—Win2K) Server OS product. People complain that NT is not robust enough, not scalable enough, buggy, and, in general, doesn’t add up to the capabilities of other server OSs such as Novell NetWare, UNIX, and Linux. I admit that NT deserves some of the criticisms hurled its way; however, some of these criticisms are unwarranted. A lot of gripes against NT often stem from misunderstandings about the product, hear-say, or hatred for Microsoft. What if NT didn't exist? What if Microsoft continued to develop only desktop or client OSs such as MS-DOS, Windows, Windows 95, and Windows 98? Somebody out there is thinking, "We'd be half happy because half the monopoly would be gone." But consider the facts before you answer.
- Microsoft created PC-/MS-DOS in early 1981 for the original IBM PCs.
- Microsoft created the Windows client OS/shell in 1985, and Windows became popular in 1990 with the release of version 3.0.
- Novell initially created NetWare in the mid-1980s as a disk server, and then marketed it as a file server. NetWare still controls most of the PC server OS market, but it continues to lose market share to the likes of NT and Linux.
- Bell Labs created UNIX in 1969 as an interactive time-sharing system. Because Bell Labs wrote the OS in a standard language that embraced many popular ideas, UNIX became the first open OS. The UNIX environment and the client/server program model were important elements in the development of the Internet.
- Linus Torvaldis created Linux 1.0 in 1994. He also copyrighted the OS under the GNU’s Not Unix (GNU) public license. The term copylefted is often used to describe this type of copyright. Sounds oxymoronic, doesn’t it? The term copyleft says that anyone who redistributes the software, with or without changes, must pass along the freedom to further copy and change it. Copylefting guarantees that every user has this freedom. The GNU project began in 1984, 10 years before Linux. The GNU project aimed to develop a complete free UNIX-like OS—the GNU system. All the current Linux distributions are more accurately called GNU/Linux system because they're usually GNU variants that use the Linux kernel.
- Microsoft released Windows NT Server 3.1 in 1993. The company wrote the OS almost entirely in C and offered preemptive multitasking, security, RAID support, and increased stability and robustness over its existing client DOS and Windows OSs. You can now use NT Server for everything from a LAN file server to a full-fledged Internet server, providing mail, Web, FTP, or any combination of TCP-based services. The original release (version 3.1) didn't provide this level of functionality.
You should judge any piece of software, including OSs, on its qualities, including usability, scalability, and robustness. Ask yourself the following questions about NT (not Microsoft) before you form an opinion:
- Is it functional—Does it do what it's supposed to do?
- Is it practical—Does it make sense and can you use it in daily work?
- Is it easy to install, configure, and administer?
- Is it efficient?
- Is it easy-to-use?
- Are there any critical features or information missing from NT?
- Is it robust?
- Is it scalable?
Don't listen to the so-called experts. Taste the coffee for yourself and then make a decision for you, not for the whole world. If you don’t like NT or if another OS better suits your needs, you should use the other OS. If a combination of software suits you, use that combination if possible. I know that I contribute to Microsoft's bottom line by buying its products, but I also do the same for other companies from which I purchase items on a regular basis. You should judge NT on its own merit, not on what you hear about Microsoft.