My users want Windows. Where three months ago users were enthusiastic about Mac and some were excited about (or at least open to) Linux implementations in the coming years, now users are asking about Windows 7 on the new purchases we have coming up.
I don't care about the Macs. Whatever. We have a Mac base in many of our schools that is serving us well and that we have on lease for another three years. I see no need to buy any more unless Apple drastically changes their strategies over the next few years. However, I was hopefully about Linux in more settings. The anti-Vista sentiment remains high among many of my current Vista users and XP users are certainly feeling like their machines are growing long-in-the-tooth, opening an opportunity for Linux.
Then Microsoft started their new ad campaign and it certainly seems to be a heck of a lot more successful than the short-lived Jerry Seinfeld debacle. I'll be honest: I actually like the commercials. They play on my gadget lust and make me want to go buy a new PC. Of course, I'd probably install Ubuntu PDQ, but I would have already purchased a PC.
The ads seem to have killed any interest in Linux and, except among Mac devotees (and quite a few still exist in education), in new Macs. It sounds as though the rival Linux ads won't exactly be cranking out the converts either.
So why do I care? Computers are computers, right? We all live in a browser anyway. Because I think that there are some really mature Linux operating systems that provide everything we need (and far more) in Ed Tech in easy-to-use, safe, secure, and free packages. I think there are huge libraries of applications in the OpenSUSE Edu-CD, Edubuntu, and beyond that people are missing because "it's not Windows."
I'm not going to force feed Linux on any of my users. I will find ways to save money with Linux in the server room, resurrect old computers whenever possible, and use Linux on public Internet kiosks. I will keep exploring Edubuntu/Kiwi/LTSP for a better, cheaper solution to thin client deployments. I'll do my darndest to make sure that the students in our district understand that an OS is not synonymous with Windows (or even OS X), but rather that an operating system is a tool. My personal computers will continue to run some flavor of *nix.
However, I think that the growing enthusiasm around Windows 7 is fairly infectious. Will it be as big a flop as Vista? I doubt it. People are going to have to see and feel Windows 7 side by side with Ubuntu (or some other friendly distro) and then decide for themselves which they prefer. I'm more than happy to give them that opportunity and will be organizing events around such a "taste test." For now, though, the Microsoft ad campaign is working.