Being a discussion of what a GUI actually is and what it actually does. Further considers the ease of use that the development of GUI’s brought to an otherwise very technical market, comparing CLI with GUI and highlighting the benefits the home PC user enjoys today.
In which we look at the initial development of the Graphical User Interface, who the main players were and considers the role of the major software manufacturers and the part they played in GUI development. Also looks briefly at the differences between the Linux interface and the Windows interface, the decline in popularity of Linux in the past only to recently regain some commercial ground. In addition we look at the problems of software compatibility across operating systems and the subsequent effect of this on the home user. Also, we consider the argument that without the development of the GUI the home PC may never have gained its current success, with its consequential effect upon the I.T. industry.
Conclusions and Issues Raised
That without the development of GUI computers would only be in use today in a commercial or academic environment. Summarises the various reasons for Microsoft’s almost total domination of PC operating systems and considers the alternatives. Asks the questions would Linux have fared better in different circumstances? Is Windows really the best GUI? Is the commercial resurfacing of Linux a portent of things to come in the domestic market and what does the future hold for the future development of the GUI?
Discuss the differences between IBM and Microsoft in their contribution to the development of the PC. Your answers should be based on Material from the T171 website and the set book and you should use at least one quotation, properly referenced, from Accidental Empires.
The differences in the contribution made by IBM and Microsoft to the development of the PC began primarily with the deal struck between the two companies for Microsoft to supply the operating system for IBM’s new microcomputer. This new PC was to be aimed at the home market and represented a huge change in the way IBM did business. Being a large well established company IBM had developed a particular way of manufacturing, with each stage of any process undergoing numerous analytical discussions and rigorous testing before successive implementations of developments. This cumbersome and time consuming procedure had to be changed if the monolithic IBM were to seize the opportunity that Apple computers had demonstrated existed within the home PC market.
In a somewhat radical departure from their normal practice IBM set up a largely autonomous group of engineers, with the manifesto of producing a home user PC within a year. This was an extraordinarily difficult task given IBM’s convoluted working practices and project director Bill Lowe was fully cognizant of that. ‘It was impossible, and Lowe knew it. There was no way IBM could develop a personal computer in a year’ (Ch.7 p127.) In fact Lowe realised the only way it could be done was to externally source both the software and the hardware. Searching for software first, and failing to secure a deal for the operating system with CP/M’s designer Gary Kildall, Lowe turned to Microsoft, who although at that time were not in the business of writing operating systems eventually sold them QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) designed by a third party company named Seattle Computer Products. The end product though badged as an IBM, had in reality very little to do with them, being largely comprised of third party components and third party software, be that as it may, on completion the machine was still hugely successful.
This success would be difficult if not impossible to imagine had not this partnership been formed. On the one hand although IBM had an enormous amount of market respect and hence an ability to sell their product far more effectively than their nearest competitor (Apple) they did not have a readily understandable operating system that could be used by an average person. With Microsoft’s software this limitation was overcome. Had it not, it is unlikely that IBM could have manufactured and sold a PC within their deadline of a year.
This then is the difference in the contribution made by both companies to the development of the PC, IBM’s initial recognition of the need for a microcomputer and their consequent address of this need by the design and build of a PC system, albeit by largely non-IBM components and Microsoft’s contribution by procuring and developing an understandable operating system. This approach, a marriage of hardware and software capability is almost directly responsible for bringing home computing to a mass domestic market.
Describe the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication technologies, illustrating your answer with examples from your research in your tutor group for online tutorial 3. Choose one technology you have investigated and suggest how this might be used on T171 based on your experience so far.
The main difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication technology can best be explained in terms of time, synchronous communication happens in real time with each participant in the exchange responding in turn. A good example of this is the internet instant messaging facilities utilising such programmes as MSN messenger or Yahoo messenger. For example I wish to talk to Joe Bloggs to relate some information to him, I type out my message press send and, given that Mr. Bloggs has the same instant messenger as me, almost instantaneously he will receive it. At that point he can comment on it and immediately send a response without initiating a new communication.
Asynchronous communication on the other hand does not happen in real time, generally communication traffic using this style of messaging is placed in a queue and delivered when possible. A good example of this is the current SMS (Short Messaging Service) facilities offered by most mobile phone operators. I send Mr. Bloggs a text message relaying some information, when he receives it he then has to initiate a new message if he wishes to comment on it.
These examples are best illustrated by my experience with online activity 3. I wished to speak to another member of my study group so to initiate conversation I sent him a text message via my cell phone asking him to install Yahoo messenger and if he was free to chat using this service at X time. As he was unable to respond at that time it was some hours before we finally managed to agree on a mutually convenient time for our conference. Of course this is perfectly normal but it does highlight one of the shortcomings of asynchronous communication, in that there is no immediate response so the sender is unaware whether or not the recipient has recieved the message at all.
When we did finally manage to have our conference via instant messaging, we were able to compare notes of our relative experiences and gained some insight into the differences between the two technologies. We discussed the characteristics of both systems and largely agreed that both had merit and could only really be assessed in terms of individual need.
In relation to T171 it would be difficult to see any useful application of asynchronous communication, however synchronous messaging may indeed prove useful in terms of allowing the tutor to have direct real time communication with the student and vice versa. This could benefit both student and tutor enabling the student to have some form of question and answer facility and as instant messaging is private, he may feel that he can ask questions without fear of sounding less informed than his peers.