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.
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.
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.
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!