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Operating systems vendors prep for next-gen hardware

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IT organizations usually stay loyal to the OS choices they make, but every once in a while, vendors and projects yield a bumper crop of OSes so compelling that the strength of ties binding IT to their chosen operating systems are tested.

Evolution of the Linux 2.6 kernel continued to accelerate in 2005 with the delivery of four significant milestone releases. A relatively new Linux distribution, Ubuntu, is rapidly gaining devotees with its promise to supply a commercial-grade OS without setting aside enterprise features for a commercial release. Sun Microsystems (Profile, Products, Articles) delivered a much-needed jolt to its x86 and SPARC server base with Solaris 10, providing stiff competition to Windows and Linux for the 64-bit x86 platform. Microsoft was particularly busy in the past year as well, with the hallmark being the long-awaited delivery of native 64-bit editions of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

While all of these new operating systems delight for their attention to enhancing stability and technical features, we found only one -- Apple's OS X v10.4 Tiger -- that addresses productivity at the client and server level in ways that dig much deeper than Apple's trademarked glitz.

That Tiger, from kernel to browser, makes the Mac give-to-your-grandmother easy goes without saying. But Tiger also strikes us as the first major release of a desktop OS in which the new features are targeted mainly at professional users.

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