Desktop Blasts from the Past

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Last week Eric Griffith presented a comparison of the four most commonly used desktop operating systems: Ubuntu Linux, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS 10.5.1 (or Leopard). The Mac offering comes out on top in his estimation. You can see Griffith's analysis here.


This week, TechRepublic's John Sheesley takes us through not the most popular ones, but "five of the best desktop operating systems" that have fallen out of use. Complete with nifty screen captures, he covers IBM's OS/2, NeXTSTEP, BeOS, DESQview and GEOS.


NeXTSTEP, Sheesley points out, came to Apple when the company purchased NeXT upon Steve Jobs' return to the CEO slot. The operating system "ultimately became" what is now the Mac OS. OS/2, of course, has been in the news recently: IBM denied a user group's request to open the operating system's source code. We've also highlighted BeOS in the past, but the remaining two are as new to me as they may be to some of you.


Of DESQview, Sheesley says:

DESQview was a program that ran on top of DOS that allowed you to multitask DOS programs....DESQview didn't multithread programs, because such technology didn't exist at the time. Rather, through the use of QEMM, DESQview used expanded memory on your computer if it had an 80386 CPU to run DOS programs simultaneously.

Similarly, GEOS was also "an environment," according to Sheesley. He says:

In 1990, GeoWorks created a version of GEOS called PC/GEOS which would support a GUI and limited multitasking on 286 and even some XT machines (8088-based PC clones). GEOS was lightweight, fast, and easy to use.

Unfortunately, the pricey developer kit and the complex programming required prevented GEOS from taking hold.