Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Mon 14th Mar 2011 08:32 UTC, submitted by Dirge
OSNews, Generic OSes "Right now, someone, somewhere is developing the killer operating system feature of the future - a feature that will change computing and make us wonder how we lived without it. However, the person responsible probably isn't grafting away in the labs of Microsoft, Apple or Red Hat - he or she is more likely to be working in a bedroom or loft. [...] We'll look at the best alternative operating systems, with the potential to change the computing landscape over the next decade."
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(I personally consider plug-and-play the best killerfeature ever and the big Operating Systems had that first as well)

Not as far as I recall. The Acorn Archimedes had plu-and-play already in 1987 when it came out. And it was a more real plug-and-play than you see on, say, Windows.

Windows implements plug-and-play by including drivers for all known devices in the OS (so you don't get p&p for new devices, unless these can reuse older drivers). Acorn implemented p&p by requiring devices to carry their own drivers, which they would upload the the computer when they were plugged in. Hence, the OS did not need to include any drivers and would be prepared for any future products.

On the downside, this made devices more expensive, as a device would need to contain a small ROM with its driver and logic for allowing the computer to read it. For a mass-market OS this wouldn't matter much, as device manufacturers would readily do this, but since RISC OS was a niche OS, it meant that the selection of devices was small. Some third-party companies made such devices by adding the extra parts to standard PC devices, but that could easily double the price.

Still, I think this was the right way to do p&p before the Internet became ubiquitous. Now a better way would probably be for the device to contain an IP-address from where the driver can be automatically downloaded. This will allow the driver to be more easily updated.

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