Before installing the first service pack for Vista on my parent’s computer, it less-than-politely told me that it was dumping physical memory. The famed blue screen of death lives in on Microsoft’s newest operating system. What was surprising though, was to see a few days prior to that my friend’s Mac inform him that he needed to restart his computer. The kernel had panicked. I have not yet seen this sort of display on Ubuntu, though it has gone kaput a few times. I am sure that every type of system has had the hiccups before.
So then, what makes the Windows’ Blue Screen of Death so notorious?
It’s bizarre, and here’s why:
- Windows has a larger user base with a lower average technical aptitude, so when the the screen suddenly changes color and you lose control of the system, it startles people.
- There is nothing you can do about it.
Mac OS X avoids some the frustrations of #2, due to a much more polite delivery, and the seemly lower frequency of the kernel panicking. Linux though, at least in my experience, averages more hiccups than Windows. It manages the problems by giving the users a way to help fix the issue. Linux users go into the experience with the knowledge that their software does have bugs, but they will be fixed quickly once they are found. Most Windows and more especially Mac users don’t anticipate that their expensive computers could ever fail. They believe the lie that all bugs can be found, and were found before you bought the product.
These days, though, the situation is improving because most people have experienced enough problems to give up the fantasy of a perfect system. In addition, the bazaar mentality in Linux development has opened our eyes to the power that the end-users can have in minimizing and repairing the bizarre problems that are inevitable in software use.