Has Microsoft opened the door to the Linux desktop?

Has Microsoft opened the door to the Linux desktop?

Summary: Microsoft has alienated its hardware partners and will soon be rolling out a version of Windows that many people already dislike. Will the Linux desktop finally get its shot for the big-time?

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Thanks Microsoft! You ve given the Linux desktop another chance to make it big.

Thanks Microsoft! You've given the Linux desktop another chance to make it big.

Microsoft has been going out of its way to tick off its partners.

First, Windows 8 has an interface, Metro, that only a mother could love. Metro will require Windows users to re-learn everything they know about how to use Windows. Then, Microsoft announced Surface, a vaporware tablet that leaves all its partners' Windows 8 tablet plans in disarray. , Finally, adding insult to injury, Microsoft stabbed its smartphone partners in the back by announcing Windows Phone 8, which made all currently shipping Windows phones obsolete. So, if you're in the PC business do you really want to work with Microsoft or is it finally time to look for a partner that really wants to work with you rather than use you?

I think it’s time for Dell, HP, Lenovo, and all the other big-time PC vendors to finally start taking the Linux desktop seriously. It’s clear that Microsoft’s agenda no longer is running in parallel with their plans.

Shifting to Linux won’t be easy. I’m sorry to say that in 2012 there are only two significant Linux desktop/tablet operating systems for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to consider for partnering: Canonical of Ubuntu fame, and Google with Android and Chrome OS.

Ubuntu 12.04 vs. Windows 8: Five points of comparison

Yes there are many other Linux desktop distributions. Yes, some of them may be better. I, for example, favor Mint 13. But, Mint, while it finally has a partner shipping Linux Mint-powered PCs, and the other small Linux distributors aren’t big enough for the major OEMs to take seriously. The other big name Linux companies, Red Hat and SUSE, are now focused on servers.

Ubuntu, on the other hand, not only has been courting OEMs for years, it’s actually been shipping Ubuntu-powered laptops and desktops from companies like Dell for years. When Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s CEO, said recently that he expected 20-million PCs to ship this year with Ubuntu, he wasn’t blowing hot air.

Shuttleworth was, however, not talking just about the North American and European Union market, but the world market. It’s in China and India where Canonical, with its partner Dell have found that people really will buy PCs without Windows. I know for a fact that Canonical would be more than happy to work with other OEMs and bring the Ubuntu Linux desktop to Western markets.

Are you still under the delusion that Linux is too hard? That once people go Windows they won't look at anything else? Please, meet my now 80-year old mother-in-law who’s a happy Ubuntu 12.04 user.

The major OEMs already have experience in working with Google and Android. Since Android is the hottest selling smartphone operating system on the planet, Google must be doing something right. There's no reason Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks can't be the next step in desktop evolution.

Think about it. Chrome OS is just the popular Chrome Web browser running on Linux. If you know how to use a Web browser you can use a Chromebook. Unlike Windows 8’s Metro there is no learning curve what-so-ever.

Chrome OS’ big problem is that it requires an Internet connection to show its stuff. It is, after all, the first significant cloud-based desktop operating system. But, how much work can you get done now with your Windows PC without an Internet connection? If you’re honest you know that the answer is: “Not much.”

Besides, Chrome OS’ offline capabilities are improving. You can already use GMail off-line. It also looks like Google will be rolling out offline Google Docs for Chrome OS this week at their annual show of shows Google I/O.

Now, let’s take a long, hard look at the situation. Microsoft is showing itself to be no friend to its partners and Windows 8, like Vista before it, looks to be a flop in the making. But, if the hardware vendors start offering a Linux-based product lines they’ll increase their razor-thin margins, work with partners who want to work with them, and be able to offer customers attractive and secure operating systems that actually require less training than Windows 8 will.

Heck, thanks to Ballmer’s desktop and partner mis-steps maybe we finally will see a year of the Linux desktop after all!

Related Stories:

Hardware: the backlash to the backlash

Microsoft poisons its partners

Microflops: Microsoft Surface RT and 8 tablets

Shuttleworth on Ubuntu Linux, Fedora, and the UEFI problem

Microsoft supports Linux desktop

Topics: Linux, Browser, Tablets, Software, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Microsoft, Hardware, Windows

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350 comments
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  • Oh please...

    not a chance.
    Eggry
    • Oh please

      I completely agree.
      JAlva05
    • LOL In your dream Linuxians!!

      @Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols : In your dream lol...

      Firstly, your assumptions are inexact!! Windows Phone 8 PCs, and Tablets will be a huge success... I expect Microsoft to sell more Windows 8 than Windows 7 and XP ... I think you don't really understand that when the massive Windows developers community will begin to develop Metro apps, and they will don't have a choice, the number of Metro apps will really quickly exceed the number of apps available for the iPad ...

      And don't forget Steven... all these Metro apps will be fully compatible with Windows 8 PC, Tablets and Windows Phone 8 smartphones...

      Linux have not a micro chance to get anything positive from this... heu... No it is not true, it has chance to disappear...
      EricDeBerg
      • Windows FanBoy's Dream

        @EricDeBerg have you seen the Mobile Market for Windows Phone? Its pathetic.
        abarbaneld@...
      • How long did it take for XP to be replaced?

        Heck my work group just finally got new laptops with Win7 on them. If the life of XP is any indication, it will be quite a long time before anyone considers upgrading to win8 or moving to another OS.

        And didnt the pc makers already give Linux a shot? Oh right, as always, there is little demand for Linux. But of course, that is M$'s fault!
        otaddy
      • BS!

        Windoze market share is crumbling quickly. More people won't even consider it when FOSS alternatives are so good today.
        The Linux Geek
        • yes

          Windoze is crumbling and fast. However from all the actual data available Windows is doing quite well.
          MrCaddy
        • RE: BS!

          If by "crumbling quickly" you mean "nearly identical to 10 years ago" then yes you are absolutely right.
          miker00lz
      • citation required.

        Where do you get these wild, mad projections from that W8 will be a huge success? I'm a windows dev, and I haven't seen an example of Windows I've liked less since ME.
        meski.oz@...
      • They listened to me

        I wanted a Windows tablet. Not a Windows 7 OS running on a touch screen tablet, but a touch screen OS.

        They gave that to me with Windows 8.
        DontUseGoogleAtAll!
        • RE: They listened to me

          Yes, but Windows 8 being good for tablets isn't the issue here. The problem is that they're removing the start menu interface even for desktop systems (which outnumber tablets in the market by a staggering amount)... without even giving an option to bring it back. I just can't understand why they would do this, it really feels like they actually want to piss off long-time Windows users for whatever reason.
          miker00lz
      • ...Will, ...Will, ...Will, ...Microsoft Will...

        We've heard that before.
        Joe.Smetona
      • It's not Windows, it's Metro

        The question then isn't whether Windows is going to be successful, but rather Metro. It's a completely different user experience, nothing is like it was before, it's everything completely new. One of the reasons why Vista was a complete disaster, but Windows 7 was still successful, is that Windows 7 has been made more like Windows XP than Vista was. It's already seen in the latest Office package, where M$ has changed the user experience completely, making them learn everything anew.

        Windows was always successful just because everything was just the same as users have always known. Windows 95 has only introduced the bottom bar, but all other things were exactly the same. Since that time Windows DID NOT UNDERGO ANY MAJOR CHANGE IN USER EXPERIENCE. They only increased stability and safety, added handling to more things, improved performance. This is what was done with Windows 2000 and later Windows XP, for a long time the blockbuster among operating system. They tried first to make Vista something different and you can see how this ended. They withdraw some of these in Windows 7 and only because of that was it successful. Now they are trying again to reinvent the world with Metro.

        It may happen that this rule with Windows above does not apply to Metro. But remember that the latest XBOX was successful not because it was so good, but because the competitive products were crap. About Ubuntu there's still lots of things you can complain, but it definitively is not a crap.
        ethouris
    • Short answer: no

      The biggest competitors to Windows 8 on the desktop are Windows 7 and OSX. Linux is great in the datacenter but the lack of commercial apps support will keep it off the desktop for foreseeable future. It's much more likely that desktops as we know them will be moribund before it happens.

      The place where Linux will continue to be useful is as a kernel for Android and embedded in thin clients and smart appliances, including set top boxes and gaming consoles.
      terry flores
      • Linux & Vista

        I concur, I am grateful to Linux for forcing MS to keep XP going as an option to Vista.
        Nitramd
      • The long answer is NO.

        Short answer, NO. Long answer, NO. Medium answer, NO all the in between answers....NO.

        There is only one answer NO.

        I really really wish, I mean it would be nice if Linux would get its act together and put out an OS that just simply worked like Windows and looked like Windows and acted like Windows and was free.

        They cannot and they will not so the answer will always be NO.
        Cayble
    • Re: Oh please

      I'm just about PISSED off enough with this "New Windows 8 CRAP" to start considering something of the Linux flavor! M$ HASN'T LISTENED to it's users. PERIOD! I hope Windows 8 flops worse than ME and Vista combined. The arrogant A$$holes haven't listened to any forum. Windows 8 is just like the Dyson vacuum cleaners, BOTH NEVER LOSE SUCTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Disgruntled_MS_User
      • Time for your happy place

        It's obvious your paranoia meds just wore off, so please find the meds then go to your happy place! The rantings won't help, but the happy place will.
        Cynical99
      • Try Linux Mint 13.

        You'll never go back.

        Even if you don't install it, get an install DVD to use as a Live DVD. It won't affect your hard drive at all because it just runs from memory after you boot from it. At least use it with supplied Firefox to do online financial transactions or purchases.

        I'm currently defining 10 separate desktops and we each use a number, so if someone needs to jump in and use the computer, they just switch to their desktop, preserving the windows and information for the original user.
        Joe.Smetona
        • Mint..NOT, Debian NOT

          Just finished piecing together a box I was intending to use as a Linux experimental thing. Mint refused to install, the installation process would just hang. Hmmm. OK, found that certain wireless LAN devices can cause that, so I abandoned Mint and dowwnloaded and burned 8 DVDs for Debian. Completed the install successfully and everything was wonderful, except it couldn't access the network. Using my trusty XP machine, I found that Linux doesn't much like USB WiFi dongles. Hmm. Sorry, but that's what I have. I tried a bunch of suggested fixes to no avail. I finally thought of looking on the driver disk that came with it..VOILA!! Linux drivers! All you have to do is...copy the files, modify the makefile to put in your installation's paths, make the driver files and install them. WTF? So 3 hours into messing with this, raised blood pressure and a headache, I gave up and installed a copy of win7 I'd bought for another system. I popped in the driver disk, the dongle installed, and Win7 configured the network. My time is worth money too, sorry, but Linux is still just not there for the masses yet. I could see it being OK pre-installed on a canned system where an engineer has gone through and taken care of everything, just so you never try to add stuff on. Oh, and as long as you don't like Canon printers..It doesn't like those much either. Skip Canon photo printing.
          NotMSUser