One of the key factors in the birth of OSW was impatience with the constraints, accessibility and development directions of related visual music programming languages- MAX/MSP, FTS, jMax, and Pd. MAX/MSP was limited to the Macintosh platform and was hard to add new features to and had no multiprocessor support. FTS was locked into IRCAM hardware, jMax was burdened with Java and has limited popularity, and Pd was missing many of the features of Max/MSP. Because of the accretion of objects in these systems there were too many objects for musicians to learn to use with many surprises.
The specification for OSW became the union of the good features of previous systems combined with a desire for greater ease and use and simplicity. The catalyst for actually developing OSW was a combination of the emergence of the new C++ standard and the arrival of a fearless programmer at CNMAT, Amar Chaudhary.
Feature Specifications and Design Goals include: