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Observations on Everything

Steve Jobs Just Loves Windows Vista!

As more Windows users cry “Help, I’ve been Vista whipped!”, I thought that the introduction of the oppressive Windows Vista was going to be a boon for Linux.

I got the first part right. As Vista subverts your computer into a Microsoft Peripheral, subject to whatever whim “Balmer and The Boys” cook up, users have resisted. A large number of not-so-technical people I’ve talked to want to avoid Vista like the plague. [And in my opinion, rightly so.]

My assumption was that given reasonably priced hardware from several suppliers and completely free Linux distributions like Ubuntu, the discomfort with Vista would be the kick that finally pushed Linux into the consumer mainstream.

Not so.
Every single one of those non-technical users, and a vast majority of my technical friends, are planning to make their next system a Mac. This is a real testament to brand, design, and image. I’m pretty sure Steve Jobs has sales data that is showing this trend, and he’s probably pumped. It looks good on him. This report from Net Applications demonstrates just how much market share Apple is gaining.

But as a big fan of open source, I wonder what the the problem with Linux is. Ubuntu has a pretty good name. Yet a lot of my technical friends who could set Ubuntu up with no difficulty are still thinking Apple. Why?

Part of the problem is drivers. I tried valiantly to get Ubuntu to run on a laptop I bought last month, but the hardware was simply ahead of the software, unhappily I wound back on Windows XP.

Microsoft has momentum. I pretty much expect that they will continue along their present “we own you” course for some time. Probably until they’ve shed enough mass to be capable of turning a corner again. In other words at least five years from now, probably more. This makes it a really good time to buy Apple stock.

The real losers in this transition are the manufacturers of Windows PCs. OS X isn’t going to be running on Dell computers any time soon, at least not legally. Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, and all the others are in the same situation.

A few weeks back I posted an open letter to PC manufacturers, calling on them to make an investment in open source drivers for their systems. At the time, I thought it a wise service to their technically advanced customers. Now I think it might rank more as a survival strategy.

  • Tom Greenberg

    This is weird. Linux is not better than Vista for one reason only, and it is the reason you mentioned: No Drivers. I love UNIX environments and I also own a Mac, but at the end of the day I use my Vista pc because it is much easier to use in my work environment.

    There are over 1 billion pcs worldwide, in which the majority is windows based. Maybe if linux systems were to support hardware as quickly and as easily as Microsoft’s Operating System does, then the linux startups would have a chance at it.

    As for Macs, the limitation of the OS running only on expensive Mac hardware puts it out of the reach of hundreds of millions of pc users. If Apple makes a brave move of opening up their OS, then I think they would have better chances than the linux community at taking Microsoft down.

    But for now my friend, when it comes to Windows, it will continue to dominate the pc market.

    My last thought is about Operating-System-as-a-Service (OSAAS). One day operating systems will be offered as a service, where your pc acts as a terminal with a minimal kernel to start the pc and then connect to the Internet to initialize the OS remotely!
    Google will one day offer OSAAS and could dominate the pc market forever, but again maybe this is just a pipedream!

    February 5, 2008 at 16:56
  • Parth

    Actually my experience is completely different. I have installed several distros of Linux Ubuntu, Mandriva, Open Suse & all installed without a hitch. Everything ‘Just Worked’ . & i didnt even need a Driver CD from the hardware manufacturers. For instance on installing Ubuntu from the live CD on my Lenevo 3000N laptop i was instantly connected to my office Wifi.

    February 15, 2008 at 10:45
  • Joe

    February 21, 2008 at 23:59

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