How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

Summary: Choice is no longer a dirty word when it comes to operating systems.

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Over the past decade Linux has made little progress in terms of becoming a credible threat to the dominance of Microsoft in the desktop space. After years of prediction that the 'Year of the Linux desktop' was coming, market share still lingers at around the 1% mark. In fact, even Mac OS X, with all of Apple's resources at its disposal, is barely making a dent in the Windows market share. But could the shift away from the PC towards a more 'Post-PC era give the OS the much-needed boost it is looking for?

Things are changing. The widespread acceptance of tablets and smartphones has encouraged users to stop thinking of computing as something done in front of a desktop or notebook, and instead as something they do while on the move on a myriad of different devices, from smartphones to tablets to web tops.  While the era of the x86 PC might be coming to a close (and to be fair, it's had a good run, with over 30 years as the primary computing platform), computing is more personal than ever.

So why might this be good for Linux? Well, Linux never really had a chance on the desktop. There's no way that Microsoft would have allowed the platform to gain traction with OEMs or consumers. The PC ecosystem is far too symbiotic, with Microsoft relying on OEMs for sales, and OEMs relaying on Microsoft for innovation to sell new products. No one was willing to upset that particular apple cart because everyone had a vested interest in keeping the status quo.

Well, everyone except Apple that is. First came the iPhone, a mobile computing platform that turned the smartphone industry on its head overnight. Then came the iPad. While the iPad wasn't the first tablet by any stretch of the imagination, it was the first tablet that people felt they wanted in any significant numbers. This caused a massive industry scrabble as PC OEMs suddenly tried to reposition themselves multi-platform OEMs, not only selling PCs but also devices smartphones and tablet

Tablets became the new gold rush, although for most it wasn't a particularly lucrative gold rush. While Apple made more money than it knew what to do with from smartphones and tablets, companies such as RIM and Motorola and HP have found that there were no guarantees. They discovered that it was quite possible to release a good tablet with a respectable hardware and software specification that's priced decently, and still lose money.

So where does Linux come into play? Well, if you go back a couple of years most OEMs were Windows-only businesses. Sure, they dabbled in the likes of Linux, but it never seemed serious. When the likes of Dell offer Linux-powered system, it feels cursory, almost a throwaway gesture to appease the geeks (and maybe a way to capture some headlines). But now OEMs are up to their elbows in new platforms. Android is by far the most popular, but when the likes of HP released a webOS-powered TouchPad tablet, it made it clear that as an OEM it was thinking beyond Windows and beyond the PC as we know it.

Microsoft is gambling with Windows 8. It's gambling that because there's a market for iPads that there's a market for touch-based Windows devices, and it's working to turn the desktop operating system that people currently drive with a keyboard and mouse into one that people will drive with their fingers. This is hugely risk, especially given that Microsoft has tried to break into the touch market for over a decade now with no success. At this point it's hard to tell if Windows 8 will be a success like Windows 7 was, or a flop like Windows Vista. At this stage I'm inclined to feel like it will flop because there's no proven market for the primary feature that it offers - touch.

Which is where Linux comes in. Now I'm not suggesting for one moment here that Linux is going to dethrone Windows. It's not. It doesn't even have the power to push past Mac OS X to take second place. But Linux has an opportunity nonetheless. It has the potential to be there so that OEMs could offer PC buyers a bridge between the PC and the 'Post-PC' era. Consumers are already used to choice in the OS marketspace - Windows Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone - so it isn't much of a stretch to see another option on offer - Linux. People don't seem as scared of operating systems as they were five years ago, they seem willing to give things a try, so there's no reason to think that they might not give Linux a go on their PC in much the same way they were willing to give Android a chance on their smartphone.

Linux offers a choice, and as people do more on the web through the browser, what operating system they use matters less and less.

Choice is no longer a dirty word when it comes to operating systems. People are used to making choice as their computing needs move beyond desktops and notebooks and towards more diverse devices, and there's no reason think that they might not be willing to give Linux a chance on their desktop or notebook much in the same way they gave Android or iOS or Windows Phone a chance on their smartphone.

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Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Linux, Laptops, Windows

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  • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

    "Linux offers a choice, and as people do more on the web through the browser, what operating system they use matters less and less." Still a long long way to go. When we reach that stage, maybe OS itself is no longer important, and who cares if he has Linux or Windows, maybe Google OS?

    Before we reach that stage, Microsoft won't be defeated, especially with new Windows 8 having cross-device seamless operatability.
    mymisc
    • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

      @mymisc
      Sorry, a big NO to spyware OS (Google OS)
      owlnet
      • Talking about GoogleOS

        Has anyone noticed that ChromeOS is completely a joker in the market?
        LBiege
    • Google OS?

      @mymisc

      No. I refuse to install spyware for others or myself.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Then why might you lust after the likes of WGA?

        Note that I'm presuming you do lust after WGA and its partners in crime, as you seem to lust after everything else from the land of Redmond.
        ego.sum.stig
      • No. I refuse to install spyware for others or myself.

        @Cylon Centurion <br><br>I hope you're not using windows then.
        guzz46
  • Um...

    You do know that Android uses the Linux kernel, right?
    cowbutt
    • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

      @cowbutt
      You do know that chimps and humans are 96% the same, right?
      whiteleaf85
      • Ouch

        LOL
        LBiege
      • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

        @whiteleaf85
        So you have 96% of my DNA? How is this related to Linux/Android?
        kirovs
      • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

        @whiteleaf85
        The 4% difference is large enough and that you can easily distinguish this difference by mere appearance and intelligence. Comparison of humans and chimps is at best at the height of a faulty logic. The Android kernel is a Linux kernel when it will be merged upstream.
        LinuxUser&XPGamerGraphic
  • You can't be serious

    [i]Microsoft is gambling with Windows 8. It???s gambling that because there???s a market for iPads that there???s a market for touch-based Windows devices, and it???s working to turn the desktop operating system that people currently drive with a keyboard and mouse into one that people will drive with their fingers. This is hugely risk, especially given that Microsoft has tried to break into the touch market for over a decade now with no success. At this point it???s hard to tell if Windows 8 will be a success like Windows 7 was, or a flop like Windows Vista. [b]At this stage I???m inclined to feel like it will flop because there???s no proven market for the primary feature that it offers - touch.[/b][/i]

    Are you serious? There is no proven market for touch? The most exciting products coming out now are touch based - including smartphones and tablets. As for large touch screens, from the beginning people have lit up when using MS Surface. When people use touch, they do not like going back to interacting with mice. They only do so because the apps they need to use require them to do so. Migrating apps to being touch based, will solidly move the PC experience in this new direction. Also I'm sure MS does a lot of usability testing to ensure that people will prefer doing touch based productivity work, to using a mouse.

    It is a given that using Autodesk and Adobe apps will be wonders when they are made touch / stylus based. Also generally making productivity apps touch based will make them more intuitive and immersive, increasing user satisfaction and productivity. It is silly to say that because a technology has not been proven in a particular area, it will fail. Isn't that what innovation is all about? Who would have thought back in 80s and 90s that computers would be used to play music and watch videos? Countless things are possible which have not yet been implemented on PCs. When executed well, these things will in fact come into being.

    As for desktop Linux catching a break ... really? The world of computing is increasingly moving to touch, and you believe an OS with an under 30 year old operational paradigm is going to succeed?
    P. Douglas
    • you'll only be able to run applications like those from the cloud

      @P. Douglas <br>the resolution is still far too low on the input side to use a tablet for digital input, and the os's can barely get out of their own way. Think computing in the early 2000's. These are HUGE apps that use memory like crazy.(the ultimate suite from Autodesk is 20 gigs when installed).<br><br> A digital input device from wacom with a screen underneath of it is over $2000 without any processor,battery, os, or phone, which would point to a $4000 tablet, and $100 dollars a month or more in cloud and licensing fees (Autodesk is over $10,000 dollars for a license), and payment for bandwidth, phone service, bringing the cost over a two year lifespan to $500 dollars a month, or $6000 dollars a year. <br><br>Of course cloud based computing is the answer to some of the problem, and the post PC era may be coming, but it will take another 10 years before it gets to the point that the PC is in now, if ever. <br><br>Cloud computing while compelling for a lot of reasons, is hobbled by the internet. A complete re-write or new networking technology will probably happen before widespread acceptance due to slow speeds, outages, and hacking. <br><br>Sure, you can get your email, watch movies, surf the net, and read on a moblie device, but that's a far cry from a CAD workstation. <br><br>10 years my friend, 10 years.
      sparkle farkle
      • If you are going to be doing ...

        @sparkle farkle,

        ... very high end work, you may in fact need a CAD work station, with a high end stylus sensitive screen, such as the Wacom Cintiq 24HD

        (h-t-t-p://www.-youtube.-com/watch?v=QWuvW27c29E).

        Similar screens which work with Windows 8, will likely include finger touch capability. The fact of the matter is that there will be systems spanning capabilities and prices, which will allow you to do a range of touch based creative work using Adobe and other products. E.g. look at this Adobe software on an iPad that allows you to do some touch based manipulation of content

        (h-t-t-p://www.-youtube.-com/watch?v=nlZTc8jre6E).
        P. Douglas
    • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

      @P. Douglas
      Tablets are a nitch market They are not doing well as you would like them to. People do want smart-phones but a tablet is just a waste of money its redundent. And people don't have the money to waste.
      Stan57
      • Tablets are better sized for serious content and are selling fine.

        @Stan57
        Jorj_X_McKie
      • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

        @Stan57
        [i]"...people don't have the money to waste"[/i]
        However, they do still waste money on beer, cigarettes, Windows, etc
        [i]Tablets are a nitch (sic) market They are not doing well as you would like them to."[/i]
        I think you missed the fact that tablets are selling very well indeed!
        rahbm
    • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

      Comparing Windows 8 to Vista is so wrong, the OS has the best touch experience with live tiles, super fast boot (faster than iPad) for a full OS is an achievement. Not to forget the API consistency across Windows Phone, XBox and Windows 8 with amazing developer support. Claiming it fail is just fanboi talk, no substance
      ninjacut
      • RE: How 'Post-PC' could be good for Linux

        @ninjacut I've been using Windows for 20 years, and Windows 8 is the first version that I think is going to be a fail (and yes, I've used both Windows ME and Vista).<br><br>Touch on the desktop is a fad. It's nothing but Microsoft trying to abuse their desktop position to bully their way onto the tablet and phone markets (and piss off their desktop users in the process). As a Microsoft Windows fan, I hope Windows 8 will fail, and fail hard.
        cauleyflower
  • Huh!

    The premise is wrong here. "Choice" was never a dirty work. Linux was never good enough, easy enough for a typical home user to care about. What about that has changed?
    Over and over we've seen articles about how widespread adoption of Linux is just around the corner, but it never happens.
    dprozzo