Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 7th Mar 2007 18:05 UTC, submitted by Luis
Linux Complaining about Windows Vista is a national past time on Internet forums these days. Windows Vista 'costs too much', 'has onerous product activation', 'requires too much hardware', etc. These complaints are often followed up by a very simple boast: 'I'm just going to switch to Linux'. But in today's landscape, how viable is that statment? Is the threat to switch to Linux an empty one, or is it entirely possible?"
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RE[5]: Of course it is
by butters on Thu 8th Mar 2007 07:08 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Of course it is"
butters
Member since:
2005-07-08

There is no significant piece of open-source software that does not exist in Windows. Firefox, Open Office, Apache, GIMP, Blender, Second Life... but all are available for Windows. As it stands right now, Linux support and functionality is a subset of Windows support and functionality.

In general, you're right. Consumers choose a platform predominantly based on the apps which are available for it. However, the trend towards consumers choosing OSS applications on Windows means that the Windows-only applications are gradually becoming less significant. Moreover, the features of the platform itself are becoming more significant as the apps are increasingly available on both platforms.

Windows will always have some software that Linux does not, whereas most Linux software will gradually become available on Windows. However, this subset will get small, and Windows will be forced to compete with Linux as a platform. Linux has its weakness as a platform, to be fair, but given a little more market share and a little more investment, many of the glaring weaknesses will go away. If Linux received even 10% of the capital investment that Windows receives, it would make Windows look silly by comparison (if it doesn't already for some users).

The synopsis of this article (if you read the whole thing) is that outside of the few features that don't quite work as intended, (Ubuntu) Linux is an outstanding desktop system. In a way, Linux is a lot like Vista. It has plenty of features that provide a sense of "wow" and a few gotchas here and there that are pretty frustrating. But I contend that the gotchas are getting more and more frustrating on Windows, while they are becoming much less so on Linux.

The bottom line on the article is that the author compared a completely free (gratis) platform and its completely free (gratis) applications against a relatively expensive platform and its often outrageously expensive applications--and found that the former is pretty damn close to being a complete replacement for the latter while offering some really compelling advantages.

Games? There's really no way to commoditize and replace a game, so it really depends on the game developers perceiving an advantage to developing for Linux. I think that a huge market awaits a project that develops a high-level OpenGL abstraction library for Linux game development. Make game development for Linux easy and powerful, and make it "build" away to standard OpenGL code, and game developers would gladly ditch DirectX. In truth, X hasn't really been ready for high-end gaming until recently, and it's not completely there yet. When game developers can easily hook into Composite to overlay their interface elements on top of the rendered environment, things will get sweet for Linux gaming in a hurry.

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