In reply to Druck:
As I say it depends what you need your computer for. I wouldn't say it's either RISC OS or the alternatives that are lacking in a general sense. It depends what you want. If you want to write a lot of technical reports with formulae etc then TechWriter on RISC OS is your tool. If you want to do a lot fo clever stuff with spreadsheets and databases then you're probably looking to Windows.
In reply to mrtd:
My understanding of industrial control is that critical real time applications are handled by a distributed system. So your user terminal is just a window onto the system that is updated every second or so. The actual control is handled by dedicated Process Managers, with separate modules containing and running applications. That way if your Application Manager goes down the PM's just carry on doing what they were doing or fail in a safe manner depending upon how they have been configured (or cause 500m3/hr of liquid to overflow as happened not so long ago when a program crashed and shut down a filtration station).
For example the Honeywell system I am familiar with can sometimes take several seconds to update the screen and this is not really an issue becasue the actual control is being carried out much more quickly by one of a number of dedicated pieces of hardware. (Just as well, 40bar of superheated steam would not be pretty if it wasn't properly controlled!).
Likewise, occasionally the universal station will lock up and require a restart, fine as the process is still running quite happily on separate hardware.
What I meant was that you could use a RISC OS box as the user interface rather than the actual controller.
I would tend to concur that needing 2 systems means one is lacking in functionality. Or perhaps it is simply lacking in the ability to generate and read file formats from other platforms? There's still nothing on the Windows platform to rival TechWriter, so functionality or lack of is all relative.
I've come to the conclusion that RISC OS can now never be a major computing platform for the casual home user. But I still believe it's excellent for people with specific requirements and for which RISC OS software exists to fulfill those requirements.
I've often thought that RISC OS would be suitable for industrial control with some appropriate bespoke software and hardware. Most large installations will use a DCS using proprietary hardware such as Honeywell (if you think RISC OS hardware is expensive, try buying a keyboard from Honeywell...). However some systems such as ABB use software running on a PC platform. Not fun when you lose control of half your plant...
For small to medium concerns, RISC OS would be ideal and the sales would generate some revenue to help advance the platform for desktop users and provide useful employment for developers.