Techno's PeeCee Problems Page

One of the worst events in the entire history of computing was the development of the IBM Personal Computer. Having failed in their previous attempt to enter the microcomputer market, IBM decided to try again. This time, unfortunately, and even to their own surprise, they succeeded.

While designing the original PC, IBM evaluated various microprocessors for potential utilization therein. For a time, the Motorola 68000 was considered as a possible candidate. That chip, naturally, was not to be their eventual choice. The closest available CPU to that which would fulfill their 'vision' was embodied in the Intel 8086. However, while it already exhibited a segmented addressing scheme, a multiplexed address/data bus, and other flaws, it (at least) utilized a 16-bit external data bus. This, thought IBM, was too good. It would mean spending a bit more to develop 16-bit support components. OK, IBM thought. We can solve this problem. We'll pay Intel to chop the 8086's external data bus in half, yielding an 8-bit data bus. As a side benefit, this will require an additional stage of bus multiplexing, and will, therefore, produce an additional decrease in throughput. Behold, the 8088 is born.

Of course, it's all been downhill since then.

Many enlightened individuals refer to the so-called 'IBM compatible' computers as the Wintel platform. This is an unaffectionate reference to the fact that such machines are based on substandard, archaic Intel (or compatible) microprocessors, and that they are typically laden with some strain of the Microsoft Windows operating system. Enlightened individuals realize, naturally, that this is the worst possible combination of hardware and software ever thrust upon the computing community.

Incidentally, Microsoft Windows is not, and never has been, a true operating system. It is merely a graphical shell, running on top of MS-DOS. This fact is completely obvious in the case of such versions as Windows 3.1, but is camouflaged rather well in such versions as Windows 95. Disbelievers are encouraged to hold the F8 key whilst booting '95, and to observe each step of the boot process. Quite a few MS-DOS files are loaded first, after which the wretched old WIN.COM file is executed. Only then does the GUI shell take control, enabling it to mask its true nature.

Here are some of the PC architecture's hardware deficiencies:

64K segment limitation (a 'feature' of the entire 80x86 family)

640K base memory limitation, with various kludges (EMS/XMS) attempting to overcome it (at great cost in terms of speed and efficiency)

Lack of multiple-resolution screens on the same physical screen

Inability to drag screens in front of one another

Slow, choppy scrolling and animation (after all, even color, let alone animation, was an afterthought on the PC)

Lack of hardware sprites

Single processor used for CPU, audio, video, etc.

Sound hardware not native or standard (the PC Speaker does not count)

Support for only two floppy drives

Lack of auto-recognition of disk changes

Support for only two hard drives (later hacked to merely four)

Only the first hard drive may be bootable

Incompatible with television video standards

Pointing device (mouse) is an afterthought

Serial mice

Absence of dedicated, nonconflicting mouse and joystick inputs

Support for only two RS-232 ports (without conflicts or kludges)

IRQ conflicts


Multiple incompatible keyboard interfaces

Programmed (rather than memory-mapped) I/O

Third-party clone processors, which are often even less stable than authentic Intel garbage

Multiple generations of CPUs with various internal math errors

Four bytes: F0 0F C7 C8

MMX (attempting to speed up the CPU in doing things which are not even the job of the CPU in the first place), which disables the FPU (requiring it to be emulated, slowing down all non-MMX applications)

Bizarre, noninteger internal CPU clock multiplication schemes

The misleading practice of specifying the CPU's internal clock speed, rather than its real-world external speed

RAM parity checking, with no attempt at intelligent error recovery

Three letters: IDE

Here are some of the PC's software (primarily DOS/Windoze) limitations:

16-bit limitation (with subsequent 32-bit kludges)

Inefficient use of memory and drive space

8-character plus 3-character-extension filename limitation

Absence of case differentiation in filenames

Supposed long filename support, which actually reduces them to six usable characters (PROGRA~1, for example)

Various BIOS and OS limits on hard drive size (32 MB, 500 MB, 2 GB...), with subsequent kludges

No real command line history

No real command line

No command line multitasking (without more kludges)

All attempts at multitasking are pathetic

Text files not compatible with UNIX

No comment field within files

Unable to mount foreign filesystems

Multiple incompatible, inefficient, unstable filesystems

Non-descriptive, single-letter drive designators

Lack of compatibility between command-line and GUI-based programs

GUI was an afterthought

Erratic, undesired relocation of icons when attempting to double-click on them

Window scrolling jumps back abruptly if mouse pointer slides off of scrollbar (with the recent 'near the scrollbar' hack only slightly better)

Lack of single-click window close (until recently hacked in)

Window resize is difficult to use (pointer only becomes a double-arrow in a very small area)

Lack of iconic manipulation of actual files (isn't that the point of a GUI?!)

Inability to place active window behind inactive windows

Inability to cancel undesired operations by pressing both mouse buttons

Lack of a standard utility for installation of new software

Lack of a standard hypertext format and reader

ENTER key when finished entering a field closes entire 'dialog box'

Referring to requesters as 'dialog boxes'

Lack of a dynamically-allocated RAM disk

Up/down and left/right window scroll arrows are not adjacent

Insistence upon using black text on a glaring white background

General Protection Faults

Pathetic bottom scrollbars for non-automatically-wrapped text (in web browsers, etc.)

Dependence on filename extension to determine file type

Absence of datatypes

Program Groups (not actual directories, and limited to a ridiculously small number of 'program items')

Hundreds or thousands of unidentifiable files dumped ignorantly into a tiny number of directories

Dynamic Linked Libraries (DLLs), and the nightmares they cause

Cumulative system slowdown merely due to installation of new software

Routines specifically intended to slow system performance more as hardware is upgraded

The vast majority of all computer viruses ever written

Windoze 95 attempts to correct a few of these oversights; unfortunately, it is something of a challenge to locate a PC that even RUNS '95 (or at least waits more than a few months to trash its hard drive). ;)

Speaking of '95, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for it to WRITE to the HARD DRIVE on EVERY BOOTUP!

There is something seriously not right with an operating system which requires a 'safe mode' (what, exactly, is the alternative?).

Windoze 95 boasts the very worst telnet client ever written.

Note that Linux is the only real OS that runs on Intel-based hardware, and it can also run on the Amiga! Linux is not infested with most of the mainstream Microshaft software deficiencies. Yes, it does write to the HD during bootup; a real multiuser/multitasking environment is a totally different ball of worms. ;)

Micro$oft: Yesterday's Software, Tomorrow!

Intel Outside!

This page is under construction. Do not worry, the Wintel platform will surely continue to provide an unending stream of deficiencies with which to populate this page. ;)

Last updated: 12 August 1998

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Authored on Amiga!