Does Your Computer's Operating System Still Matter?

New York Times writer Joe Nocera argues that the Windows operating system doesn't matter any more, because webapps are rendering all operating systems irrelevant. He asks:

Do you really care anymore which operating system you use? I don't. For years, I owned both a PC and a Mac. I could use Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Apple's Safari or Mozilla's Firefox, more or less interchangeably, to access the Internet. I could write an article on one computer, send it via an email message to the other one, and it worked just fine. [...]Even my teenage sons, who stuck with Windows because most computer games were written for PCs, stopped caring. They could play games over the Internet, and all the most popular games were made for the Mac as well.

Photo by Jimmy_Joe.

Houston Chronicle writer Dwight Silverman disagrees:

How you interact with that OS remains an important aspect. The operating system controls the interface between human and machine. If you don't think the OS matters, spend some time talking to Windows die-hards and Macintosh zealots. They have a close, personal relationship with the look-and-feel of their computers. And even those who don't think of an OS as religion—and that's most of us—still value the functions of an OS. Set an average Windows user down in front of a Mac for the first time and watch them fumble, trying to find things, if you don't think the OS matters.

We can see both sides of this argument (as we switch back and forth between several operating systems in the course of a day to write this site), but we want to know what you think.

Do operating systems still matter?
( polls)

Tell us if you think the web-as-desktop hype is just that, or if the browser truly is the only "operating system" you need in the comments.


    Ages ago, in the mid 90s, I've worked with a guy who's been in IT for over 20 years. He is going waaayy back. He told me this: "If you hang around long enough, you'll see things repeating." That was said in response to the thin client craze, and he was of course refering to the evolution of dumb terminal into what was then known as thin client. Now, we have a third incarnation of the concept - web desktop. Nice. We'll wait for the fourth, or the fifth.

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