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If Operating Systems Were Airlines...

Some of it is a bit out of date, but it's still amusing.


DOS Air: Passengers walk out onto the runway, grab hold of the plane, push it until it gets in the air, hop on, then jump off when it hits the ground. They grab the plane again, push it back into the air, hop on, jump off...

Mac Airways: The cashiers, flight attendants, and pilots all look the same, talk the same, and act the same. When you ask them questions about the flight, they reply that you don't want to know, don't need to know, and would you please return to your seat and watch the movie.

Windows Airlines: The terminal is neat and clean, the attendants courteous, the pilots capable. The fleet of Lear jets the carrier operates is immense. Your jet takes off without a hitch, pushes above the clouds and, at 20,000 feet, explodes without warning.

OS/2 Skyways: The terminal is almost empty -- only a few prospective passengers mill about. The announcer says that a flight has just departed, although no plane appears to be on the runway. Airline personnel apologize profusely to customers in hushed voices, pointing from time to time to the sleek, powerful jets outside. They tell each passenger how great the flight will be on these new jets and how much safer it will be than Windows Airlines, but they will have to wait a little longer for the technicians to finish the flight systems. Maybe until mid-1995. Maybe longer.

Fly Windows NT: Passengers carry their seats out onto the tarmac and place them in the outline of a plane. They sit down, flap their arms, and make jet swooshing sounds as if they are flying.

Unix Express: Passengers bring a piece of the airplane and a box of tools with them to the airport. They gather on the tarmac, arguing about what kind of plane they want to build. The passengers split into groups and build several different aircraft but give them all the same name. Only some passengers reach their destinations, but all of them believe they arrived.

Wings of OS/400: The airline has bought ancient DC-3s, arguably the best and safest planes that ever flew, and painted "747" on their tails to make them look as if they are fast. The flight attendants, of course, attend to your every need, though the drinks cost $15 a pop. Stupid questions cost $230 per hour, unless you have SupportLine, which requires a first class ticket and membership in the frequent flyer club. Then they cost $500, but your accounting department can call it overhead.

MVS Air Lines: The passengers all gather in the hangar, watching hundreds of technicians check the flight systems on this immense, luxury aircraft. This plane has at least 10 engines and seats over 1,000 passengers; bigger models in the fleet can have more engines than anyone can count and fly even more passengers than there are on Earth. It is claimed to cost less per passenger mile to operate these humungous planes than any other aircraft ever built, unless you personally have to pay for the ticket. All the passengers scramble aboard, as do the 200 technicians needed to keep it from crashing. The pilot takes his place up in the glass cockpit. He guns the engines, only to realize that the plane is too big to get through the hangar doors.

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