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Fast Market growth favors big players.

The current OS landscape has little to do with the size of the players, and everything to do with back-room deals between Microsoft and OEMs to e.g. prevent OEMs from loading BeOS on their systems.

I'm sorry, but this is Amiga syndrome.

Beyond all else, you know why BeOS isn't loaded on systems today? Because it didn't run Windows software. You can assert that Microsoft certainly did not help it along with its OEM deals, but BeOS didn't do itself any favors along the way at any point.

BeOS had an agreement with Hitachi to distribute BeOS on some of their systems. Microsoft also had an agreement with Hitachi (and others?) that prevented Hitachi from displaying an operating system selection menu on boot. That is why we do not have BeOS today, and is only one example of the countless times Microsoft underhandedly and illegally (as determined by courts on multiple continents) harmed consumers and competitors.

Read the first page of this: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/exhibits/1584.pdf

Relevant section:

  The BeOS is bundled with the machine and is already pre-installed
  on the hard drive.  As shipped from the factory, your FLORA Prius
  will NOT boot the BeOS...
Edited to add: We can never tell what would have happened to these competing systems without Microsoft's manipulation of the market, but Microsoft's involvement in their demise is a historically and legally documented fact.

I do not deny that there is probably some foul play on Microsoft's part, but there was also a time when Microsoft was just a player among others and made it to be the one preferred by the enterprises, and then the general public.

I don't think BeOS would have got very far even if there was no deals against it. After all, there was no massive support from publishers to develop for it, and an OS without software remains a small, niche market. Windows was already huge at the time.

Now, I agree there are probably better OSes out there (either Linux distributions or others) but it all boils down to "what is the platform people develop for". Mass acceptance requires your OS to be able to run enterprise applications, modern games, and to run flawlessly (or at least without major issues) on a good range of hardware. It is very difficult to pull this off unless you have a great amount of ressources nowadays.

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