One session at Comdex/Canada ’99 in Toronto last month lived up to its combative title, giving panellists a chance to vent about the operating systems few admit to choosing, but all have to live with.

Robert Thompson, technology writer and vice-president of engineering with ExtremeLabs in Indianapolis, Ind., chaired “The Cracked Crystal Ball: OS System Wars, The Next Generation” session.

Styling the session after the popular talk show Donahue, Thompson, armed with a microphone, wandered throughout the roughly 100-strong crowd and took questions and complaints for the three panellists. The following is a sample of that discussion.