Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:15 UTC
Microsoft

I've got kinda sidetracked here waffling on about the history of dial-up BBS systems. What I really want to be concerned with is what made The Microsoft Network unique and interesting: the interface.

The big thing in Windows 95 was their new shell. They wanted everything to go through this. They had this vision of every object in the computer being represented as a shell object, so there would be a seamless intermix between files, documents, system components, you name it. They had this project called Cairo that was supposed to throw out that scruffy old file-based filesystem and bring in a shiny new Object Based File System instead. It never happened, so we'll never know exactly how it might have turned out. But the brave lads at MS didn't give up that easily and so the idea stayed on, admittedly without the tech to back it up, and the principles wormed their way into such glorious developments as The Microsoft Network.

And so The Microsoft Network wasn't a program you loaded like CompuServe. It was part of the OS, with folder icons that looked just like real folders. It was a kind of version of the Web where you could browse online data the same way you browsed your file system. This is what made it cool.

I vaguely remember something about this project - and of course, the whole concept of integrating literally everything into the Windows 95 shell did see some adoption here and there in the early days of Windows 95. Looking at it from today's perspective, I still kind of like it - Microsoft would try the concept again with Windows Phone 7, where services like Twitter and Facebook were supposed to be integrated into the operating system, without having to use crappy applications to access them.

That is still a good idea today.

Order by: Score:
Bell Labs did it first
by tidux on Wed 29th Aug 2018 22:30 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

This is basically Plan 9 plus a web-scale filesystem namespace (IPFS/IPNS?). The only issue would then be showing all those files, virtual and otherwise, graphically, but we've got decades of experience in creating graphical file browsers. You could even wrap the whole thing in a 3D fsn/fsv alike interface if you wanted to spend your day shouting "It's a Unix system, I know this!" instead of tab-completing.

Windows is a remarkably poor choice for a basis for something like this, for exactly the same reason that PowerShell couldn't simply be a Unix shell.

Edited 2018-08-29 22:31 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Bell Labs did it first
by emojim on Thu 30th Aug 2018 01:59 UTC in reply to "Bell Labs did it first"
emojim Member since:
2018-08-07

That was the best part of that film. FINALLY someone on the island actually knew something! ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Bell Labs did it first
by moondevil on Thu 30th Aug 2018 06:23 UTC in reply to "Bell Labs did it first"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

PowerShell couldn't simply be a Unix shell.


Thankfully, structured data and Lisp machine like experience is so much better.

Reply Score: 3

v RE[2]: Bell Labs did it first
by Kochise on Thu 30th Aug 2018 10:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Bell Labs did it first"
RE[3]: Bell Labs did it first
by moondevil on Thu 30th Aug 2018 12:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Bell Labs did it first"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

For UNIX refugees on Windows.

Reply Score: 4

Clutter
by nicubunu on Thu 30th Aug 2018 05:08 UTC
nicubunu
Member since:
2014-01-08

All I remember about it was how on any computer I had to set-up, there was a need to remove this icon, which uselessly cluttered the desktop, along with a few other items.

Reply Score: 5

No... Please no...
by shotsman on Thu 30th Aug 2018 06:00 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

Integrating Twitter and FB with the OS is just so, so wrong.
Most of the world don't use those dens of iniquity so why force these things on them? Any OS that has this sort of feature would NEVER be used by me.

Operating Systems should be lean, mean and get out of the way of what is being done at the user level.

Back in the day, you could build a working RT-11 Kernel that was 3Kb in size. It never got in the way of what you were trying to do. {shows my age...}

Reply Score: 7

RE: No... Please no...
by avgalen on Thu 30th Aug 2018 08:01 UTC in reply to "No... Please no..."
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

Integrating Twitter and FB with the OS is just so, so wrong.

I agree. This was tried a bit with FB on one of the hubs of Windows Phone and it failed because an OS cannot keep up with the development of all separate things it tries to integrate (and also because FB and Twitter hate it when their branding isn't everywhere)
Most of the world don't use those dens of iniquity so why force these things on them?
Most of the world that uses "computers" DOES use FB. There are roughly 2 Billion FB-users (and 0.5 Billion for Twitter)
Any OS that has this sort of feature would NEVER be used by me. Operating Systems should be lean, mean and get out of the way of what is being done at the user level.Back in the day, you could build a working RT-11 Kernel that was 3Kb in size. It never got in the way of what you were trying to do. {shows my age...}
Yes, this indeed shows your age. Computers were toys for experts that could barely get the simplest things done after spending 5 years of getting to know their tooling in great depth. If you put a regular person behind that 3 Kb kernel he would just walk away because he couldn't do anything. Nowadays computers can do incredible things and regular people can operate them without much thinking

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: No... Please no...
by Troels on Thu 30th Aug 2018 08:53 UTC in reply to "RE: No... Please no..."
Troels Member since:
2005-07-11

Most of the world that uses "computers" DOES use FB. There are roughly 2 Billion FB-users (and 0.5 Billion for Twitter)


Facebook has peaked and is declining in use and importance, unless you want to later piss off remaining users by killing the OS support, you would end up having to support 500 different services and try to keep up with changes made to them.

MySpace is a great example of why it would be stupid to base your OS around popular services, it went from being all the rage to being irrelevant very quickly.

Facebooks user count might still be high, but googling it, i don't seem to be the only one who find that overall activity and items shared/written has gone down a lot over the years. Other services are challenged as well, like LinkedIn used to be a good place for work related content, but has been totally overrun by people who think it is a sales channel.

The base services of a general purpose OS seems to have been rather stable for a long time, while the online service landscape still seems to be far from stable. Who knows, in a couple of years people might start to realize that most of it is just a waste of time and find something else to do, while most likely you still need to do office work, edit videos, do programming, etc, on a computer.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: No... Please no...
by avgalen on Fri 31st Aug 2018 10:04 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No... Please no..."
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

I already wrote why I think integrating social services into the OS shouldn't happen, but let's stay factual:

Facebook has peaked and is declining in use and importance

If I google "https://www.bing.com/search?q=facebook+peaked" the first 3 results all seem to indicate that this is happening and then you check the dates and see that these have been false predictions from the past:

Link 2, 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/jun/13/has-facebook-peak...
Link 3, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2544200/Facebook-lik...
Link 1, 2016, http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/04/faceboo...

In reality "Worldwide, there are over 2.23 billion monthly active Facebook users for Q2 2018 (Facebook MAUs) which is an 11 percent increase year over year. (Source: Facebook 07/25/18)" (my source https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/, be careful with other statistics they list because these are older and cherry-picked)

The base services of a general purpose OS seems to have been rather stable for a long time, while the online service landscape still seems to be far from stable. Who knows, in a couple of years people might start to realize that most of it is just a waste of time and find something else to do, while most likely you still need to do office work, edit videos, do programming, etc, on a computer.

You seem to think that a general purpose OS runs on a computer (meaning PC). However more people are now using phones for their general purposes and they spend an awful lot of time in the "online service landscape" on FaceBooking, Youtubing, Twittering, Whatapping, Instagramming, et.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: No... Please no...
by r_a_trip on Thu 30th Aug 2018 13:46 UTC in reply to "RE: No... Please no..."
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

regular people can operate them without much thinking


Which is part of the problem with malware.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: No... Please no...
by zima on Sat 1st Sep 2018 01:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No... Please no..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Viruses/worms were quite (maybe more) common also in the olden days...

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: No... Please no...
by avgalen on Mon 3rd Sep 2018 08:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: No... Please no..."
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

Viruses/worms were quite (maybe more) common also in the olden days...

Malware is a much broader categorie than just viruses/worms which have almost disappeared because of appstores and built-in virusscanners and other OS-level-mechanisms.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: No... Please no...
by zima on Wed 5th Sep 2018 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: No... Please no..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Aye, that's why I specifically didn't use the term "malware" but the subcategories "viruses/worms" ;) (which were all the rage back then - the point beeing that hard to use OSes didn't stop it...)

Reply Score: 2

RE: No... Please no...
by Megol on Thu 30th Aug 2018 10:43 UTC in reply to "No... Please no..."
Megol Member since:
2011-04-11

Integrating Twitter and FB with the OS is just so, so wrong.


Depends on what is meant with OS and what is meant with integration.

Look at the idea behind OpenDoc and other projects/ideas at the same time: component based operating systems. The core would be whatever OS but the upper layers and user facing parts would be component based.

So the word processor would be integrated into the OS, the calculator too, music players, spreadsheets etc. All for the user to mix and match by themselves or optionally by others.


Most of the world don't use those dens of iniquity so why force these things on them? Any OS that has this sort of feature would NEVER be used by me.


Most of the world doesn't (actively) use computers so that's true, but is it relevant?

Facebook is used by large amounts of people to keep in contact with others. It's crap but that's a fact.


Operating Systems should be lean, mean and get out of the way of what is being done at the user level.


Most define OS to also include the parts on the user level. The Windows shell and Unix CLI for instance.

With a component based architecture those parts would be built from components from the OS provider and others - essentially making those components part of the OS. Facebook component? Still part of the system.

The big difference from now would be that instead of having monolithic chunks of code (apps) functionality would be modular parts (components).


Back in the day, you could build a working RT-11 Kernel that was 3Kb in size. It never got in the way of what you were trying to do. {shows my age...}


Which of course by todays standards wasn't much. Systems are much more complex now, much of it unnecessary and due to progressive development but still there.

IIRC the QNX4 microkernel was about 7-8KiB* in size however with other parts required externally. The QNX Neutrino (version 5+) started at 32KiB but included the external parts plus being more POSIX compatible.

(* Why couldn't they standardize kiB instead of KiB? It's a pain to remember)

Reply Score: 2

I have a different recollection
by ThomasFuhringer on Thu 30th Aug 2018 07:00 UTC
ThomasFuhringer
Member since:
2007-01-25

I would rather say The Microsoft Network was the attempt by Microsoft to kill the up and coming internet and replace it by a proprietary network of theirs - with paid membership and all that later on...
Up to that point they owned the whole desktop and controlled whatever people used. Every time some new killer app started to rise they would squash it with their own solution. Sucessfully.
But the internet slipped through and they panicked. So they tried their usual approach. But luckily for us it did not work out for them.

Reply Score: 11

RE: I have a different recollection
by lc_lol on Thu 30th Aug 2018 07:12 UTC in reply to "I have a different recollection"
lc_lol Member since:
2017-09-16

+1

I shall add that OS/2's workplace shell was much more advanced in its "object-orientated" integration ;)

Reply Score: 7

RE: I have a different recollection
by Nth_Man on Thu 30th Aug 2018 12:49 UTC in reply to "I have a different recollection"
Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

From [those days](http://www.legaline.com/column7.htm):

MSN is a leap backward. Anyone who has used American Online or Compuserve knows what an online service should look like. It should use text and graphics to provide a clear and easy-to-follow map through the system.

MSN has some fancy graphics, but that is as far as it goes. Its interface is confusing, slow and tedious. It is easy to take a wrong turn on your way through the system and end up having to retrace your steps.

Every time you click on a menu item, MSN takes you to a new "window," much like the Windows desktop. On the Windows desktop, you can move backward by closing the top window. In MSN, if you close the window, the system tries to disconnect you.

Reply Score: 3

v What it clearly wasn´t
by _0_Nit_099_ on Thu 30th Aug 2018 08:00 UTC
No no no
by andywoe on Thu 30th Aug 2018 09:50 UTC
andywoe
Member since:
2018-05-18

It's great they didn't succeed.

The incredible success of the web is exactly because it's free form, not a stringent object definition with transitive dependencies, spurring innovation never seen before.

Free form admittedly have some downsides, but the web wouldn't explode without it.

Reply Score: 5

RE: No no no
by kwan_e on Thu 30th Aug 2018 10:30 UTC in reply to "No no no"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

The incredible success of the web is exactly because it's free form, not a stringent object definition with transitive dependencies


Funny how people kept trying with CORBA and SOAP.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: No no no
by moondevil on Thu 30th Aug 2018 12:29 UTC in reply to "RE: No no no"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Microservices

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: No no no
by kwan_e on Thu 30th Aug 2018 22:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: No no no"
kwan_e Member since:
2007-02-18

Well, "microservices" are supposed to be stateless, glorified HTTP requests, but of course needs a sexier name than what was already being done.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by ilovebeer
by ilovebeer on Thu 30th Aug 2018 14:57 UTC
ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

Integrating social media services into an OS is simply idiotic. Not only are they trends, they have absolutely nothing to do with being the middle-man between the user and the hardware. It's bad enough that you can't delete social media apps from cellphones these days without rooting the device. Crapware should be a choice, not shoved down users throats, and certainly not baked in.

Reply Score: 2

Speaking of old BBS' / networks
by leech on Fri 31st Aug 2018 02:17 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

I found out a while back that Atari had one running on tons of different 8bits back in the day, that eventually was upgraded to STs. https://www.atarimagazines.com/v5n10/ataribulletinboard.html

Also check out this coolness!
https://atariage.com/forums/topic/196354-ataris-plato-cartridge-ques...

Reply Score: 1

The development of MSN...
by ScottK on Fri 31st Aug 2018 06:46 UTC
ScottK
Member since:
2010-07-21

If you're interested, I've got what is pretty much the "Insider" story on MSN...since I was on the Forum & Content Management Team that helped put it together.

More to follow..

Reply Score: 2

RE: The development of MSN...
by zima on Wed 5th Sep 2018 23:50 UTC in reply to "The development of MSN..."
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Give us more! ;)

Reply Score: 2