Will Operating Systems Ever Truly Be Optimized?

Patron Tony Yoon asked:

Do you think that operating systems will never be truly optimized? As hardware specs increase, so does the demand from the software. It always seems like a balancing act that has no end.

Yes, it’s a balancing act – and that will never end.

Operating systems will always be one release away from success or failure.

And so it goes.

But hardware is born the way it will die. Software is a living creature of sorts (albeit, not a creature that is always soft and furry).

I don’t want to claim that software is more important than hardware, but its role is crucial for the perceived success of any hardware it runs on. One could be the difference between a lackluster experience or a stellar one with the very same device.

If there’s a demand on software, it’s not just to operate in lockstep with the hardware – it’s to provide the best possible experience for the configuration at hand. The more the software can assume about the hardware, the better that overarching experience is likely to be.

A “good” software update can render a poor experience with hardware into a great one.

This is one of the reasons I find that focusing on hardware specs alone tells part of the story. Who among us has ever owned something that (on paper) looked to be amazing, but (in hand) was mind-numbingly frustrating. What happened? Were we suckered in by marketing? Perhaps. Was it more likely that the software wasn’t given a fair amount of attention? I’d wager so.

Newer hardware can afford software more opportunity to unlock different experiences – but if the focus is simply on features, it only underscores a lack of respect for the would-be user.

If (as some might blindly argue) features were the most important part of this puzzle, then both UI and UX would be wholly irrelevant in the marketplace.

That said, every single OS known to the galaxy could always be “better.”