Linux on the desktop continues to gain momentum. Shops that formerly would not consider Linux for desktops are starting to like the substantial savings possible using Open Office plus Linux for dramatically lower costs and hassles over Vista + Office 2007. The Walls Street Journal has picked up on the phenomenon as reporting on its substantial groundswell here.
Linux still goes into only a tiny proportion of the desktop and laptop PCs sold. But in a recent report, market researcher IDC said licenses of both free and purchased versions of Linux software going into PCs world-wide rose 20.8% in 2006 over the previous year and forecast that licenses will increase 30% this year over last. That compares with 10.5% growth in 2004, according to IDC…..In places such as China, Microsoft has made some progress curtailing piracy — a change that could be spurring PC users to pick up Linux, avoiding both paying for Windows and the risk of being nabbed for illegal software. “That in some respects drives the adoption,” says Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC. So far, the clearest shift toward desktop Linux is happening in Asia, which “may turn out over time to be a pivotal market for Linux on the [PC] desktop,” Mr. Gillen says. Shipments of Linux for PCs in Asia in 2005 caused a surge in overall Linux licenses that year, he says.
But Linux is not just besting Windows in cost. As noted, comparisons with the latest Windows Vista finds decisive advantages in performance and functional advantages for Linux. Meanwhile, Windows Vista is giving away former advantages of ease of use. Look what some reviewers are saying about hardware compatibility and software compatibility of Windows Vista. There are serious problems of missing drivers and apps not yet converted to Vista.
Now Redmond supporters cite these peripheral driver problems and application software compatibility problems as only temporary; but some others are not so sanguine: they say for some older devices and applications the conversion will never occur and so Linux may well end up with a better reach at least to older peripherals for a long time.
Another factor is the total cost of converting to Vista and Office 2007. Its not just the premium price of both software but also the conversion effort and incompatibilities with existing systems and applications. And I am not just saying this but reputable commentators from Business Week, the New York Times and Microsoft-leaning. But perhaps the biggest factor is the fact that these new editions of the OS and Office are simply not People Ready. Why Microsoft decided to do a series of People Ready software ads at the same time as they made substantial changes to Vista and especially Office 2007 which would require serious retraining efforts for all existing users of both Windows and Office …. give that gal or guy the Donald Rumsfeld/Dick Cheney StoneWallIT Award.
The result is that often these refurbished Linux desktop and laptop PCs work just as good or better than the “new” Wow.