I know that it might not seem like it at times, but I'm a big Ubuntu fan. I haven't fully figured out how and where it fits into my computing ecosystem yet, but I know that it does have a place there. One aspect of Ubuntu that particularly impresses me is the clear development time-line that is published and adhered to. You always know what's coming and when to expect it.
I like surprises, but I much prefer it when they are confined to Christmas and my birthday. When it comes to trying to make the right technology choices, surprises aren't so good because they create too much uncertainty and doubt. When I look at both Leopard and Vista, one this strikes me - both were highly anticipated, but once they were released the disappointment set in pretty quick. I can't help but feel that some of this disappointment is down to a new operating system representing too big a change in how people interact with their computers. Marketing people love big unveilings and generating "Wows!" but on the whole, people on the ground are wary of big changes.
With Ubuntu things are different. Rather than a whole paradigm shift with every release, you get small, incremental changes on a regular basis. Things get better, but the learning curve and disruption to workflow is kept to a minimum. Sure, there has to be times when there's a radical shake-up and some big changes made, but that doesn't need to happen with every release.
I'm not going to try to suggest for one minute that Apple and Microsoft are going to change how they do things and adopt a similar pattern (although, so some extent Apple has already been doing this with OS X). I'm not even sure if this model would work for commercial software which relies on having sweeping changes at regular intervals, but for Ubuntu, it's highly workable. The Ubuntu model has some huge benefits, the main one being that the wheel doesn't have to be reinvented for each release. The programmers can stick with what works, fix what doesn't and add features at a more controlled and leisurely pace.
When I look at the issues that seem to be facing early adopters of Vista and Leopard, I'm coming to the conclusion that modern operating systems are so complex that .0 releases are inevitably going to be problematic. Pioneers get the arrows.
So, which do you prefer? Do you like discovering secret features and figuring out how a new OS works, or do you prefer some consistency in your life?