For years, Windows has been the operating system used by most engineers. Because automated test, data-acquisition, and control systems have long lives, engineers must support operating systems long after Microsoft gives up on them. To find out which version of Windows engineers are using today, we've created a poll in the Test & Measurement World LinkedIn group.
Automated test as we know it today started with DOS, primarily because DOS gave us easy access to PC hardware. That continued through Windows 3.1 and Windows 95/98. With Windows 2000, Microsoft started making it harder to get direct access to hardware, requiring drivers for security reasons. With widespread driver support for plug-in data-acquisition cards, machine vision cards, and especially GPIB cards, Windows-based test systems continued to flourish.
Automated test stations run Windows-based software such as this used for calibration.
Windows driver support for VXI, PXI, and more recently, AXIe, has let Windows continue to dominate. Many instruments now connect to computers though USB and Ethernet, but that hasn't hindered Windows dominance. Driver support has been important, but applications for test have also been instrumental.
Tell us which Windows OS you use by taking the poll. If you use another OS, then tell us in a comment. The poll closes February 1, 2014, so vote early and often.