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Windows 7: operating system stability

08 Sep 2010   #1
broiyan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
 
 
operating system stability

When did stability become an issue with operating systems? Was it around the time dial up modems were used as Windows monitor stands? Surely such a stack was not as stable as when people used to put monitors on top of thick telephone directories. Was it when combinations of operating systems and programs often failed for no apparent reproducible reason? What happened to all the operating system bugs? Surely the bugs did not disappear as operating system stability became a concern. I'm trying to pin point the year. I guess it would be the mid 1990s but I'd like to hear your opinions.


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08 Sep 2010   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Operating system and program stability has been an issue since I started programming in 1958. The problem is inherent in the production of code which is done by people. A rule of thumb is 1 bug per each 1000 lines of code. Windows7 has over 50 million lines of code - you figure it out.
Fortunately there have been more and more mechanisms built into the systems that can recover from bugs. But as long as people do the programming, there will be mistakes made.
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08 Sep 2010   #3
broiyan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
 
 

OK so in 1958 your operating system had bugs and it seems to me by the mid 1990s people tended to say programs had bugs but operating systems had instability. So we haven't pin pointed the year but we might have a range.
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08 Sep 2010   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

No idea why you think that by the mid 90's the situation was any different than in the last 60 years. I spent all my professional life in Operating System development and I do not really see a difference year over year.
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08 Sep 2010   #5
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Yeah I'm not sure of the point or reasoning of this thread. Bugs and instability are two entirely different concepts. Bugs can cause instability, but are certainly not the only cause. Hardware failure, for example, is not a bug, but will surely cause instability. Incorrect motherboard configurations, overclocking etc, can all be other causes. A bug is a coding error in any software, whether it be an app or an operating system. On top of all that, even if they were one in the same....who really cares about the year?

I'm really confused as to what you are trying to ask or get at with this thread. It sounds like a wildly ridiculous question only found in a school assignment.
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08 Sep 2010   #6
broiyan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
 
 

My apologies to whs and DeaconFrost for not making my query clearer.

I'm just trying to understand the origins of the term "instability" as opposed to operating system bugs. You have linked it to overclocking and hardware failure. I've been around computers since 1979 and even later in my undergraduate years when we used Amdahls, early Apples, CP/M, home-builts, etc. I don't recall people talking about instability. There weren't a lot of ways to go wrong with early IBM-PC motherboard and card configurations so perhaps the term was not in use in the early 1980s.

I personally would have linked it more to operating system complexity more than hardware but still you raise an interesting point.
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08 Sep 2010   #7
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

Ah, now it seems to make sense...and have a point/purpose, too!

I think you hit the nail on the head. The OS has become an extremely complex piece of software, having to account for a myriad of configs, hardware, and software. Look at how complicated even SmartPhone OSes are compared to the examples you mentioned of yesteryear...where most OSes are embedded. Why do you think it is such as embrassment that Apple has holes and issues in their OS, considering they control the hardware that runs it?
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08 Sep 2010   #8
broiyan

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit
 
 

Well I haven't brought it up before but what about the possibility that stability is just a marketing word. Like "our operating system is more stable" sounds better than "our operating system has fewer bugs". If so, it might be possible to determine when the word stability was first associated with operating systems.

Or perhaps the growth of client-server systems lead to more measurements of the mean time between failures (MTBF) of operating system/application combinations and so the word stability might have become more suitable than the word bug.
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08 Sep 2010   #9
DeaconFrost

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
 
 

It can definitely be misused as a marketing term, but so can many other words in many other product areas. Car ads are full of lies and misuse of words.

No OS can truly say or claim anything in terms of stability, simply because it relies on so many other factors. A great OS (Windows 7) can be brought to it's knees with a bad app or driver....or user error, etc. For example, I drive a 325xi. I could say it is the safest car on the road. But if I get drunk and drive it into a pole at 130 mph...how safe is it? What if I say it gets 30 mpg, but then I try to drive on four flat tires? Is that the car's fault? What if I put iced tea in the gas tank?
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08 Sep 2010   #10
Keiichi25

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and Home Premium x64
 
 

Those selling points are just fluff comparisons. The problem is, people in general have a hard time knowing the difference between one word from another in definition... a good example was in Eureka. The Sheriff Carter in the series went "Stark... I saw you vaporized." Where Stark stated, "No, I dematerialized, not vaporized."

It is the same in the tech world. When I ask people, "Did you turn off the computer?" They go "Yes." I ping the machine and it still up. They sometimes confuse the Monitor as the computer. For others, they confuse the actual computer as the Modem... Or I ask them to log off, they shut down the computer.

When trying to sell, it is always about making the consumer believe that 'Our product is better than the other.' The would make it sound better or be vague on how much better because legally, that is not an issue. It is when you provide false information that is quantifiable, that is when you get nailed.

The problem also, is that people haven't really looked into things. It is a matter of perception. History of the Mac computer is that they have had problems with random crashes over things and viruses, yet the current marketing scheme is focusing on the fact that PC gets it as well as the headaches of upgrading with PC...

The funny thing is... When you SEE the actual evolution of Macs as well, the pain of upgrading is about the same. Software will need to be upgraded, a new Mac often means a newer version of the OS that sometimes breaks older programs unless you get the newer software, but this isn't mentioned in those commercials.

The reason for these sorts of sales pitches is due to the fact that they are trying to remake a dent in the certain markets, namely the main stream consumer markets. And the best way to hit is to address the things people don't like with what they have. Verizon has done that with their Droid and Network ads and AT&T retorted back with their own ads that hit on some things that were weaknesses by Verizon when they couldn't get a cease and desist order on the network ads.

In the long run, the stability issues are always going to be a problem with PC due to the hardware mixing and matching and the manufacturer's pace in keeping up with providing drivers for their hardware. Programs will also introduce their own stability issues because of levels of coding tools and also just coding in general will not be at a top performance due to the pressure to push product out as soon as possible.
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