The Windows Principles

Like it or not, Microsoft and the Internet impact much of what we write about in the pages of Control Engineering. Whether it's software, networking, smart sensors—even training and support—issues involving one or both of these entities are sure to surface.Because of this, I was curious to hear what Microsoft founder and ceo, Bill Gates, would reveal during his keynote address...

05/01/1998


Like it or not, Microsoft and the Internet impact much of what we write about in the pages of Control Engineering . Whether it's software, networking, smart sensors—even training and support—issues involving one or both of these entities are sure to surface.

Because of this, I was curious to hear what Microsoft founder and ceo, Bill Gates, would reveal during his keynote address April 21 at the Spring Comdex show in Chicago. After all, here's the man who controls not only what runs on the PCs in our homes and offices, but in our factories as well.

By the numbers, Microsoft, with annual revenue of $13 billion, has sold 150 million copies of Windows worldwide, for a 90% share of global operating system sales.

In his keynote address, after outlining various hardware improvements, Mr. Gates told the audience, "The key thing that Microsoft does is provide Windows as a platform for all these advances to build on."

What makes Windows the most successful software of all time? According to Mr. Gates, it's because Microsoft has stuck to its "Windows principles:"

  • Maximize customer value through innovation;

  • Work with the software industry to provide great software choices;

  • Work with the hardware industry to make sure everything they do fits in with Windows;

  • Work with the services companies, who provide training and integration, to ensure that they can apply Windows as a building block.

"Volume is key to this equation," continued Mr. Gates. "We knew the Windows principles wouldn't kick in unless we could get PC computing up to tens of millions of units."

All in the family

Microsoft's Windows family has three levels. At the top is the most powerful OS, Windows NT. The new Windows NT 5 is a "strict superset" of Windows which, according to Mr. Gates, eliminates the tough trade-offs people had to make in using earlier versions of Windows NT.

At the next level, Micro-soft predicts Windows 98 to rapidly take over from Windows 95. It's no small irony that Mr. Gates' new software crashed during the keynote while demonstrating the plug-in capabilities of the Universal Serial Bus (USB). Faced with the "blue screen of death," he quipped, "that must be why we're not shipping yet." Windows 98 puts "Internet browsing at the center of the Windows experience" and is key to Microsoft's Internet strategy.

The new tier for Microsoft, and one with significant potential for the automation market, is Windows CE. In fact, Mr. Gates specifically cited embedded systems and industrial systems as targets. Windows CE is a small, diskless OS, but still a "strict subset" of Windows application interfaces.

One of Mr. Gates' slides showed the three levels of Windows operating systems, from embedded Windows CE to the top-tier Windows NT. Maybe not so surprisingly, this graphic mirrored the product development strategies that major automation suppliers have recently shared with the Control Engineering editors.

Automation software developers, and hardware suppliers that embed software, are looking to Microsoft to predict the future. The high volumes that drove the "Windows principles" work to the advantage of the automation supplier and user.

Microprocessors will continue on their dual curves of rapidly increasing performance and declining costs. Massive Internet deployment will speed data transmissions and vastly improve communications. And Microsoft will continue to define how we use our computers—in business, at home, and in control.


Author Information

Jane S. Gerold, Editorial Director jgerold@cahners.com




No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Robot advances in connectivity, collaboration, and programming; Advanced process control; Industrial wireless developments; Multiplatform system integration
Sensor-to-cloud interoperability; PID and digital control efficiency; Alarm management system design; Automotive industry advances
Make Big Data and Industrial Internet of Things work for you, 2017 Engineers' Choice Finalists, Avoid control design pitfalls, Managing IIoT processes
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
SCADA at the junction, Managing risk through maintenance, Moving at the speed of data
Flexible offshore fire protection; Big Data's impact on operations; Bridging the skills gap; Identifying security risks
click me