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Doug's Mailbag: Thoughts on Protected Mode, iPad

Doug asked readers recently what "protected mode" used to mean back in the day. Here are some of your responses:

Wow. That is old, old, old, back in the stone ages of the big hair mid-'80s. Most people don't even remember that x86 processors could only use 640kb easily. If my memory serves, protected mode allowed the system to access the memory above 640kb. Do you remember all of the block device drivers that we used to load between 640-1Mb? SCSI, TSRs (that's a first IT job was writing a TSR in assembly).

Wow. That was a long time ago. As I recall, it allowed 32-bit applications to run on a 16-bit OS. As I recall, it required an 80386 processor, whereas the 80286 processor ran in "real mode."

If I remember right, protected mode had something to do with a program being able to use advanced CPU features like paging, virtual memory, etc.

Protected mode used to refer to the native 32-bit kernel execution mode of NT 3.x and later -- i.e., the kernel was protected from rogue application actions. This also ensured that one user could not snoop on another user's data in flight. It existed in the 80286 processor family but because it had to be selected at boot time, it was not supported widely. This mode gave wide control over application execution to the operating system.

Meanwhile, Bob has a different comment about protected mode:

You mentioned running IE in protected mode. I know that option is on IE 8, but not on IE 7 on XP SP3. I read the option is only available with IE 7 running on Vista...or maybe IE 8 with XP.

I will be upgrading soon to IE 8 on my LAN. but my preferred browser is still Firefox, and I tell my users the same -- use Mozilla for Internet work.

And more readers share their thoughts on the iPad and its functionality (or perhaps lack thereof):

Just my opinion, but I think the iPad (like most things Apple has put on the market recently) belongs to the "expensive toys" group -- things that appeal to the technogeeks but aren't really tools.

I think a lot of other people should actually try out some of Apple's products before saying you can't get work done on an iPad. Just because it's not owned by Microsoft, does not mean you are trapped using products that will not allow you to get things done. An example is Docs To Go Premium, which gives you all the editing necessary to generate and edit Microsoft-compatible documents -- not that the iPad's version of iWork won't work just as well.

No one in the Windows world has been able to make the tablet work (I've owned a couple and they were far too heavy to really be useful as a tablet). HP, Leveno, Sony, Toshiba and others have had their chance for many years to make this work. For the most part, they have failed. Let's give Apple a chance and see what comes of it. It can't be any worse that a 3.5-pound "light" tablet that others have produced.

Laptops and netbooks are far and away more important to me than "pretty."

My question is: Why on earth would I want to buy another $500 appliance to read digital books on? If I am going to read digital books -- and that's an IF contingent on digital books whose prices don't skyrocket to paper-based book prices -- I would want be able to read them comfortably on the laptop and/or PCs I am already using.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 02/10/2010 at 1:17 PM


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