Computer Operating Systems - Computer Essay Example

Computer Operating Systems

            Most computer systems will not be able to function properly without an operating system installed in it - Computer Operating Systems introduction. For home computer users, the operating systems are known to be the Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. Though there are about three different options, or maybe even more, for computer users to choose from, Microsoft seems to be the dominant party in this market.

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History

            The history of operating systems can go way back in the 1950s. But the very first Windows operating system came about in 1985 which is known as Microsoft Windows 1.0. Prior to this, most people just use the MS-DOS operating system which is, in fact, the underlying technology of most Windows OS. From then on, Microsoft introduced several Windows versions – Windows 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, NT 3.1, 95, NT 4.0, 98, 98SE, 2000, ME, XP, and now, Vista. The first Apple operating system was the Apple DOS 3.1 which was released in 1978 and evolved to more Macintosh versions. The first officially-named Mac OS was the Mac OS 7.6 which came out in 1996. The latest version of Mac OS now is the Mac OS X 10.5. Linux, on the other hand, released its very first version in early 1990s but only got known to more people later that decade. On top of these three computer firms, there are a lot more operating systems that were released since the industry started. (Wikipedia, 2007)

Market Definitions

            Tewari and Singh (1996) defined the market as “a situation where buyers and sellers can interact and transact business, i.e., exchange commodities.” There are also different market models depending on the characteristics and behavior of those who make up the market. One type of market model is monopoly where in there is only one single firm producing and selling a certain product. The firm has the sole control over the product supplies (outputs) and the pricing since there are no close competitors for the same product. Buyers have no other option but to buy the product from that firm alone. The market model opposite monopoly is competitive. In this model, “there are a large number of buyers and sellers, the product is homogeneous, buyers and sellers have perfect information, resources are perfectly mobile and there is freedom of entry and exit” (Tewari and Singh, 1996). A competitive market is ideal in the sense that it gives buyers several options to choose from. They are not tied with just a single firm and prices in this market model are definitely lower than in a monopolized market. In between monopoly and competitive, there is the so-called oligopoly. Tewari and Singh (1996) described these three features characterizing an oligopoly market: “(i) there are a few sellers; (ii) they may produce homogeneous or different products; and (iii) there is mutual interdependence between sellers with respect to pricing and output policies.”

OS Market Analysis

            Given the above definitions of different market models and the history of operating systems, it can be inferred that the market for operating systems is oligopoly. There may be a lot of operating systems introduced since the industry started but there are only three firms that are really competing for market share – Microsoft, Apple, and Linux. The market for operating systems is so huge as almost all people now, even children, own computers and know how to use them. Definitely, each of those computers has their own operating systems. In terms of mutual interdependence, the pricing and outputs of these three firms may be dependent on each other in such a way as to gain more popularity and increase market share.

US Government Intervention

            As of 2006, OneStat.com found out that Microsoft Windows’ market share reached a 96.97% which is way too high of a market share and may even be considered a monopoly. This number includes all the versions of MS Windows available in the market now, except Vista. Apple’s Macintosh only got 2.47%, while Linux only got a measly 0.36%. These numbers came from a survey with global web users as participants. With these results, it can be clearly inferred that Microsoft indeed dominates the operating system market.

            Consumers have all the rights to choose freely what operating system they want for their computers. However, it will be better if the US government will have more involvement in this market for the other competitors to have a fair share of the market. Microsoft is implementing strict regulations for their licensing and acquiring licenses from them are getting steeper and steeper. If the government still does not make any actions and intervene, operating system license costs may go way too high in the next few years and people will have no choice but to comply with their requirements and accept the price because they are already used to having these operating systems in their computers.

References

Chan, S. C. (2007). Bravo Reference: Microsoft Operating Systems Timeline. Retrieved March 3, 2007 from http://bravotech.us/info/msos-timeline.htm

OneStat.com. (2006). Microsoft’s Windows dominates the OS market on the web according to OneStat.com. Retrieved March 3, 2007 from http://www.onestat.com/html/aboutus_pressbox46-operating-systems-market-share.html

Tewari, D. D. & Singh, K. (1996). Principles of Microeconomics. New Delhi: New Age International Ltd.

Wikipedia. (2007). Operating Systems Timeline. Retrieved March 3, 2007 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operating_systems_timeline

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