Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Linux! You cannot just wish Microsoft away.

I have observed in several Linux related forums, a certain denial of reality by most Linux enthusiasts. They tend to have the notion that the demise of Microsoft is just around the corner and that Linux is about to have its time. Well all I can say is that such a world can only be in the imagination of people. 

If anything at all, Microsoft, come this October, will only consolidate its hold on the OS market unless pragmatic steps are taken by major Linux vendors like Canonical to stave off the massive tide that Windows 7 is set to have in its wake, if their distros are to stand a chance of sustaining the growth and success attained on the back of the spectacular failure of Vista. Microsoft is a company that cannot just be easily overtaken by a competitor, not by the currently fragmented and seemingly disorganised Linux world. 

The influence and control Microsoft has on the market goes beyond its core business of OS and extends to what I believe to be the computing culture of the world. A whole generation of people have grown up knowing no other OS other than Windows. You have millions of people that use the terms Windows and computer synonymously. An entire world of IT ecosystem is built around Microsoft and its products. Such people are not going to just dump Windows and migrate to Linux en mass just because Windows is not good relative to Linux. 

We keep hearing, for twenty years now, how every other year will be the year of Linux, and still this Linux has less than five percent of the entire desktop OS market. Why?! It seems to me that most Linux enthusiasts and vendors alike tend to think that the popular Open Source mantra of FREE is in itself going to do the magic of making Linux and for that matter other Open Source apps the prefered choice of users. No it won't. And I mean, again, won't, unless Linux vendors and enthusiasts alike wake from their current slumber and make up their minds as to whether they want Linux to remain just a hobbyist OS or they want to transform this wonderful piece of software into a formidable competitor to Microsoft's Windows.

I believe Linux can actually take on Windows, but no in this current status quo where most people concerned just sit and wish for things to happen. Linux enthusiasts and vendors have a lot of work to do and the earlier they set to work, the better. I use Ubuntu Linux, in fact it's the only OS I have on any computer I own, and have gotten some friends hooked to it. But I am not blind to the realities on the ground, that Microsoft, and for that matter Windows, are too powerful forces to be just wished away by living in an utopia of our own minds.

Microsoft is not going anywhere any time soon and as such Linux must work hard to get noticed by the over one billion computer users out there. Enthusiasts and vendors alike must wake up to reality and stop the wishful thinking.

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By Seeraj Muneer with 9 comments


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