Has Desktop Linux Missed its Opportunity?

by admin April 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm

It’s time we faced it: The Year of the Linux Desktop, long foretold, isn’t coming.

Year after year, breathless pundits announce that the open source OS is on the verge of a tipping point, a critical mass that will see businesses abandoning Windows in droves. And year after year, nothing happens. Is it too late for desktop Linux to matter?

The issue isn’t whether Linux is “ready for prime time.” Modern desktop-centric Linux distributions — including Mandriva, Novell Suse, Ubuntu, and Xandros — have made impressive strides in aesthetics, usability, management, and hardware support. Major hardware manufacturers ship systems with Linux pre-installed, and Dell reports that customer satisfaction rates are just as high for the Linux models of its Inspiron Mini 9 netbooks as for the Windows models. Today’s Linux really is reliable, polished, and full-featured enough for mainstream desktop use.

Even Microsoft admits it. After years of denial, the software giant’s latest SEC filings acknowledge mounting competitive pressure from Linux, and not just in the datacenter. Addressing Microsoft investors in February, CEO Steve Ballmer went as far as to suggest that the open source OS could be a greater threat to Windows than Mac OS X. That same month, Microsoft began actively recruiting a director of open source desktop strategy, a position whose responsibilities will include “influencing multimillion dollar marketing campaigns.”

Read more: pcworld.com