Katahdin Komputer
Other OS's
Depending on your age - or possibly more important, how long ago and at what age you were introduced to a "modern" computer (let us say since 1980) - you have probably seen and/or used a number of different operating systems over the years. By sheer numbers (over 90%) - nowadays - most of the computers on this planet use some version of Microsoft Windows. The other 10% or so are using Linux, BSD (UNIX), and Mac OS, with another small number using more obscure systems like OS2, BEOS, Amiga, and probably some hold-outs using CP/M and DOS 3.3 remain out there.

But, despite the numbers, some (or possibly most) of the other "alternative" operating systems may be an option for you to consider. Sometimes a certain field you are in, or program availability may dictate that you go elsewhere than Windows. Other reasons could be for more security for your data - BSD is much more secure out of the box than the Redmond products - or maybe just the cost of licensing many multiple copies of the OS as well as office software may convince you to look at Open Source software such as run mostly on Linux and BSD platforms, as well as some Windows versions. The most popular BSD flavors are: FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. There are many more large and small release versions of Linux, which can be found here, here, and here - among other sites.

Due to the need for antiquated software that may be running on "ancient" (as in 5 to 10 or more years old) hardware that is hard to find replacement parts, some scenarios may mean taking an older proprietary board and/or OS, and installing in a new motherboard. An example of this is a friend who has an auto repair business with an analyzer that connects to auto computers. That analyzer is basically a full length ISA card in a Pentium 133 with 32 megs of RAM and a quite small hard disk. Not only is it difficult to find any recent technology generic motherboards that take ISA cards (I found 3 - P4 based industrial boards), but it may be difficult to get the program to install on XP or 2000 (or to find drivers for the proprietary card designed for 95). But, it may be easier to install the board in the industrial motherboard and run the program from VMWare instead, eliminating the need to either retain the old dinosaur computer or having to dual boot with 95 on the new P4 motherboard.

Update! With the release of Windows 7, a simplified/somewhat built-in solution comes with Windows 7's Professional and Ultimate verisons - it is called "XP-Mode" - which allows Microsoft's Virtual PC to be installed along with a virtualized Windows XP "virtual machine". From this VM, programs that use to work with XP can now be installed "within" the XP-Mode VM and once installed, they place a link in Windows 7's Start Menu under the XP-Mode folder. You can then run the virtualized program by merely double clicking on the icon, which the starts the program within the XP-Mode version of XP. You have full access to all of the computer's hardware and network shares, as well as the network and Internet. When you close out the program, the VM goes back to a sleep state, ready to be run again when you need it.

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