OS war - Android on its way
(Jordan Times, The Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) By Jean-Claude Elias Android, Linux, Symbian, Sun, Leopard, Windows, Windows Mobile, Mac OS… What OS (operating system) are your computer and cellphone based on? Do you really care at all? If not you should, because how the OS works sets the very fashion for the way you will be using your device. Fast or slow, friendly or uselessly complicated, reliable or unpredictable, this is what an OS is about, from the viewpoint of the end-user at least.
Far from being over the war of the OS while still raging in the field of personal computers has recently moved on to the world of smartphones where fierce battles are taking place. Android, initially designed by Android Inc. that was afterwards acquired by Google, is the emerging power and, in a year or two, may change things radically.
Whereas some PC and laptop users are happily making the upgrade to Microsoft’s new Windows 7, many still insist that they will accept nothing less (and nothing more as a matter of fact…) than the good old, proven Windows XP. Overall, most agree that WinVista, the infamous version that chronologically is in between WinXP and Win7 is not what they want to keep.
With Mac OS releases that are reasonably consistent from one version to the one after, Apple Mac users endure fewer headaches and do not have tough choices to make.
A minority amongst all users relies on the freely available Linux OS that can work on a very large variety of computers, and from different brands. However this is but a minority, less than 8 per cent of the entire computers population, though the percentage is significantly higher when it comes to server machines and, at the lower end, to netbooks.
Smartphones are computers in their own right and therefore work with an OS. Nokia devices for instance are based on the Symbian OS, by far the most widely used in the world. It has been around for many years now and despite minor improvements is beginning to show its age. The demand for mobile Internet and more sophisticated media players is making Symbian a bit obsolete.
Interestingly HTC, a leading manufacturer of smartphones, along with Sony Ericsson have based some of their new, high performance models on a special version of Windows OS called Windows Mobile (WinMo), a system made for pocket devices and introduced several years ago. The advantages are obvious for those already familiar with the environment of the “bigger” Windows or for those who want their smartphone to communicate with their Windows-based laptop or desktop computer.
The disadvantages are also obvious. WinMo is heavy, requiring hefty processor power and memory size. Contrary to Symbian, it was not originally designed with pocket devices in mind but was merely adapted to work on them, hence the less-than-perfect performance.
Android is another story. Written for small devices from the ground up, featuring a streamlined and friendly interface, the OS is now the property of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium in which several manufacturers of smartphones are participating. “Small devices” does not only imply smartphones but netbook computers as well. Android is based on a Linux kernel - or core code for the layman.
What will Android change? A final say now on the topic perhaps would be premature. Despite having been here for about two years now, the product is still fighting to find its market share against the heavyweight Symbian and WinMo.
From the descriptive aspect of its features and the fact that some very attractive smartphones already use Android, its future looks bright, much promising. Very low battery consumption is not the least of its advantages. Speed, reliability, easiness of buying and adding software applications and flexible music and video players are some of the other advantages.
HTC’s Magic and Hero, and Google’s own upcoming smartphone are some of the trendiest Android-based new devices. Yet, forecasts found on the web indicate that by 2012 Symbian should still be fuelling about 35 to 45 per cent of all cellphones in the world.
Operating systems are die hard products.
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