Why the OS Doesn't matter any more

California venture capital firm Allegis Capital general partner, founder of Be, Inc., founder of Apple France and former president of the Apple products division, Jean-Louis Gassée has ample credentials to project the future of IT.

In a blog this week, Gassée notes that "once upon a time" operating systems used to matter a lot because they pretty much defined and circumscribed what computers could and couldn't do.

However, today Gassée observes, there are essentially two operating systems: Unix and Windows. Linux in all its flavours is a Unix derivative. So are Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Research In Motion's new QNX OS for its forthcoming Blackberry PlayBook tablet, Palm's WebOS, Nokia's MeeGo, and more.

"Open the Terminal application on a Mac," says Gassée, "and what do you see? A noble and worthy Unix 'shell' program that geeks can use to interact with the OS."

Windows based on the old DOS command line interface is the exception, and Gassée concedes it will live on thanks to Windows' domination of the PC OS sector, albeit having reached "a plateau". But otherwise, Gassée observes that in the high-growth Cloud and smartphone segments, it's a Unix/Linux world, making it necessary to to look elsewhere in order to identify differences and distinctions that matter - for example App Stores as popularised and currently dominated by Apple.