Path: EDN Asia >> News Centre >> IC/Board/Systems Design >> Why test engineers prefer Windows OS
IC/Board/Systems Design Share print

Why test engineers prefer Windows OS

15 Jan 2014

Share this page with your friends

In this edition of Outside the Box, columnist Larry Desjardin discusses the reasons behind the popularity of the Windows operating system among test engineers. Despite the superiority of Linux in terms of performance and capabilities, engineers remain dependent on Windows because of its accessibility and affordability, Desjardin writes.

Test Cafe readers, are we addicted to Microsoft Windows? By "we", I mean the test community. By "addicted", I mean we couldn't do our jobs without it. Using those definitions, the answer is "yes".

Senior Technical Editor Martin Rowe has initiated a LinkedIn poll asking test engineers which version of Windows they use. While there are some comments about Linux as an alternative, Windows clearly dominates.

It wasn't always like this. My first test system used HPL on a Hewlett Packard 9825 controller. Later, HP's "Rocky Mountain Basic", running as its own operating system, dominated the test communities. The first version of National Instrument's LabView was only available on an Apple Mac. HP VEE debuted on HP-UX, a version of Unix, and Sun Solaris followed soon thereafter. An occasional test system was deployed on a real time operating system, such as HP-RT.

Then came the PC, and with it, Windows. Once National Instruments introduced a GP-IB interface card for PCs, allowing them to be test system controllers, it was off to the races.

It is not that Windows was a technically superior operating system. In fact, I think one could make a compelling case that it isn't. But it is ubiquitous, and that brings its own advantages. Thousands of engineers who were already using Windows for word processing and numerical analysis added instrument control functionality as well. Then vendors supported PCs even more. Test executives, simulation software, instrument drivers – all were delivered on the Windows platform. If all the other software an engineer requires is being delivered on Windows, then OS choice for a vendor becomes easy: just use Windows.

Because of this, Windows won. In game theory, we would say that Windows domination is a Nash equilibrium.

Don't get me wrong. Just a few years ago I led engineering for a suite of network monitoring software that was all based on Linux. Linux reliability for a large enterprise deployment made it an obvious choice, and these solutions still demand it. But this is the exception, not the rule.

1 • 2 Next Page Last Page

Want to more of this to be delivered to you for FREE?

Subscribe to EDN Asia alerts and receive the latest design ideas and product news in your inbox.

Got to make sure you're not a robot. Please enter the code displayed on the right.

Time to activate your subscription - it's easy!

We have sent an activate request to your registerd e-email. Simply click on the link to activate your subscription.

We're doing this to protect your privacy and ensure you successfully receive your e-mail alerts.

Add New Comment
Visitor (To avoid code verification, simply login or register with us. It is fast and free!)
*Verify code:
Tech Impact

Regional Roundup
Control this smart glass with the blink of an eye
K-Glass 2 detects users' eye movements to point the cursor to recognise computer icons or objects in the Internet, and uses winks for commands. The researchers call this interface the "i-Mouse."

GlobalFoundries extends grants to Singapore students
ARM, Tencent Games team up to improve mobile gaming

News | Products | Design Features | Regional Roundup | Tech Impact