Chicago: The True Story
Recently there has been a great deal of talk about Chicago, or Windows
4.0, as being the end-all killer operating system. It is supposed to save us
from the depths of hell, or at least the DOS prompt. It is also supposedly
going to kill OS/2 off in one fell swoop Let me remind you that Microsoft did
produce MS-OS/2, and that was a complete flop. This month I plan to debunk
these myths and expose the real truth.
OS/2 uses C code, and Chicago uses Assembler. Everyone knows that
Assembler code is faster than C code, so that would make Chicago faster,
right? Wrong. In terms of overall speed on Intel computers, Chicago wont
blow the doors off of OS/2, and it might even be slower. The reason is
that OS/2 is fully 32 bit but Chicago uses large amounts of 16 bit code. Now
since OS/2 is written in C, so with a few modifications, IBM can go over and
recompile it on a PowerPC, IBM and Apples new processor that competes with
the Pentium, and it will start really flying. So I OS/2 is faster.
Let me tell you a secret: Intel, the king of CISC, is going to use
RISC processors. Wait, let me explain: CISC stand for Complex Instruction
Set Computing, and RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set Computing. Now, to
make a long story short, some years ago a guy at IBM discovered the 90/10
rule. 90 of all code uses 10 of the instruction set. Du-wha? Okay, if I
compile a program, 90 of all the commands I have entered in it will only use
10 of the CISC instruction set. So if I can make a RISC processor that uses
simpler and fewer instructions, its going to be faster than a CISC processor,
right? Yup. But how in the world does this relate to Chicago?
The P7 is going to be a RISC chip. What the heck is a P7? Is that
like V-8, that nasty vegetable liquid? Uh, no. Okay, the Pentium is the P5,
so that means that the next processor is the P6, and the one after that is the
P7. So this isnt going to happen for a couple more chip generations? Im
still happy with my 486sx, and I cant ever imagine using something 4 times
faster than a Pentium? Well, people couldnt imagine having a TV in almost
every house, either.
If the Pentium is CISC, and the P7 is RISC, the two must be
incompatible, right? Well... no. You see, in reality, the P7 is an actor.
The P7 can emulate, or act like, a Pentium. So this means you will be able to
run Chicago on a P7, but you will be no better off than if you had a Pentium.
But this time Intel stumbled because the PowerPC 620 coming to a theater near
you in 96 is going to be running things about six times faster than a P7
emulating a Penitum.
Next I want to talk about the microwave syndrome. Wait, now you
really have me, what does a microwave have to do with Windows? Have you seen
the Windows 4.0 interface yet? Very conspicuously situated at the bottom of
the screen is a huge button titled START. Excuse me? Are we idiots here?
At spring Comdex 94 the guy running the booth said that most people would
think of starting an application by hitting START. Look, people. I am not
a four-year old. I do not want to be treated as a four-year old. Nor do I
want a four-year old messing around on my computer. I have been using the
Windows and OS/2 interfaces for several years now and I never needed a START
button. Wait a minute, here. Completely computer-illiterate people have been
using the Mac interface for more than a decade now, and they never need a
START button. So let me get this straight, these fools at Microsoft make
the features in their applications harder to use than anything I have ever
seen, and then they want to water down the interface to compensate? Hello
McFly, is anybody home?
So are you saying that Chicago is really just a piece of crud?
Well... I wouldnt go that far. Windows 4.0 might be worth something after
they fix all of the bugs in 4.0 and release 4.1. Microsoft is going to
release 4.0 and charge 50-100 per package to people, and then come out with
4.1 and charge yet another 50-100 for it. It did this to the Windows 3.0
and Windows 3.1 people. Why wouldnt it do this again? If Microsoft released
a bug-free super-duper version of something, everybody would buy it, right?
If Microsoft released a half-baked operating system, everybody would buy it,
right? Yeah... its sad and true. So my message here is: Windows 4.0 will
be okay, but wait for 4.1 before shelling out any money. And take a look at
OS/2, people. You might be surprised.
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