Microsoft has come out with a number of benchmarks
and comparison papers championing the fact that
Windows NT is much better than Linux. I find such
comparisons fascinating, but rather than rehash
this argument, I've decided to create my own
comparison. Not of Windows NT vs. Linux, that's been
done. But of Windows NT vs. CP/M.
CP/M for those of you who don't remember was one of the
first portable operating systems. It ran on 8 bit 8080
class hardware, and was a single user, floppy based system.
(Later versions actually could access a hard drive.)
Two systems were selected for this comparison. The CP/M
system is a Kaypro-II running a 2MHZ Z80, with 64K of
memory and dual 360K 5-1/4 floppies. The Windows NT system
runs quad 500 MHZ Pentium Processors, with 2GB of memory
and 1TB of disk space. This particular configuration
was chosen because Microsoft seems to like to use
a system like this for all its benchmark comparisons.
Performance is one key issue in any comparison. I do
a lot of writing, so word processing performance is
extremely important to me. The CP/M system with Word*
and after a 15 second boot Word*
let me write documents as fast as I could type.
In my two minute test, I could enter about 210 words.
The Windows NT system running Microsoft Word also
could accept input as fast as I could type, but it
took a whole minute to boot up. Thus I could enter
only 120 words in my test. So we can conclude that
CP/M is 75% faster than Windows NT for word processing.
Let's talk about spreadsheet performance. CP/M with
Calc* will balance my checkbook just as fast as I can
input the data. Counting the boot time, that means
that I can enter about 17 transactions in a two minute
test. With Windows NT with Excel, I get only 10 transactions
a second. So as far as spreadsheet performance goes, CP/M is
70% faster than Windows NT.
Conclusion: CP/M provides superior overall performance
for common office applications.
CP/M is an extremely secure system. It relies on the physical
security methodology. You store the operating systems, programs,
and private date on 5-1/4" floppies. You want to use them,
put them in the machine. No one can get to your data from the
outside through a network because CP/M has no network. You want
to secure your data, take the floppies out and lock them up.
Want to share data, hand the floppies to another person.
Note: This security method allows the user a wide variety
of personal authentication schemes such as drivers license,
passport, or personal friend known to you.
What's even better since we are running on a two floppy system,
we can put our software on one floppy and the data on the other.
The software floppy can be write protected, and nothing we
do can change any of those files.
Windows NT relies on file system security and passwords.
There have been lots of studies about the weaknesses of
passwords. Any system that relies passwords in insecure.
In addition Windows NT contains a tremendous security
hole called the Administrator account. Anyone logged in
to this account can easily read and write all your files.
Add to that that Windows NT connects to a network and allows
remote access and you have big security problems. There have
been hundreds of security problems reported for
Windows NT such as viruses, E-Mail viruses, break ins,
denial of service attacks, and many others. None of these
problems have affected CP/M.
Plus Microsoft relies on operating system file protection to
keep you from modifying system files. This means that you must know
what files to protect and rely on software to provide your protection.
Hardware protection is much easier to configure and provides much more
reliable protection. Windows NT makes no use of hardware protection for
Microsoft likes to trumpet the fact that Windows NT is
certified by the government for C3 security. What they
leave out is that that was only for a certain version
of Windows NT (which they no longer support) and a
certain hardware configuration (which had no network
card.) In the real world, a typical Windows NT
installation would never come close to getting C3
CP/M however could easily be certified. It has
a very secure network because it has no network
capability. It also has set of keys that you can
press that return you to the "secure command server".
(It's called the reset button.) These are the big
features of C3 security and CP/M has them. The reason
that it does not have C3 certification is that no one
wants to pay the big bucks to get it certified.
Conclusion: The security of CP/M is vastly superior
to Windows NT.
As far as I know the CP/M system for my Kaypro has
not needed an upgrade or patch for the past ten years.
Also the operating system has no reported bugs that
can crash it. It is small, simple and very stable.
During that time Microsoft has two major releases of
Window-NT, at least 5 service packs and is planning on
replacing the system with a new version next year.
In addition to this there are a large number of bugs
out there that Microsoft has yet to fix. Many companies
reboot their Windows NT systems weekly to avoid
system crashes that come when you leave Windows NT running
for too long.
Conclusion: CP/M is much more stable than
You can probably pick up a Kaypro-II with CP/M, Word* and Calc*
at a garage sale for about $10. Or you can go to an auction site
and pick one up for about $100-$200.
On the other hand a Window-NT system in the configuration
that Microsoft likes to use for benchmarking will probably
cost you about $100,000. This includes the price of the
hardware, software, and the cost of hiring a team
of Microsoft Engineers for three months to tune your system
for optimal performance.
Conclusion: The cost of ownership of CP/M is much, much
lower than Windows NT.
But let's talk about real world experience. CP/M has hundreds
of customer testimonials all describing how useful and easy
to use this operating system is, while Microsoft Windows NT
is only able to provide anecdotal evidence.
Note: We are using the definition of these terms as defined by Microsoft
Since CP/M has Customer Testimonials and Windows NT has only
Anecdotal Evidence, we must conclude that CP/M is vastly better.
These results show that in every comparison category that CP/M
is at least as good as Windows NT and frequently outperforms
the Microsoft operating system.
Another conclusion we can draw from this is that if you come
up with the answer, a good writer can come up with a question
that produces the desired result. Comparisons like this one
should always be scrutinized for relevance and bias before
you put any faith into them.
Coming soon, we will compare a Windows NT system vs. a brick.
I'm not going to give away the ending, but I'm going to bet
that the brick will win.