Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Non MS OSes Gaining Ground

In order to celebrate my 300th blog entry - I decided to revert to one of my favorite topics: slamming Microsoft... and predicting the demise of this (truly) evil empire.

In what is just the latest in a long history of time-sucking, headache-inducing, blood-pressure-raising events - I stupidly set the auto-update of my parent's aging Dell (XP Professional) to on.

When it decided to do an SP3 update - it hosed the boot block of the hard drive. So, I used the recover CD to "repair" the install, issue a DOS "fixboot" and "chkdsk" commands - and go it to book back into windows.

The BAD news is that as soon as one of the profiles is clicked on - the installation script - in its infinite wisdom and desire to "help" - promptly resumed where it left off and proceeded to hose the boot block again.

The end result is that my parents have a useless computer - with outdated backups, and now I need to spend the better part of 2 days doing a full wipe/install/update.

THANKS Microsoft! Awesome QA!

Yes, I know - just because I'm pissed off about having to restore yet ANOTHER install of Windows (I've done it on my own machines countless times) - I'm really at the point of turning Windows into my occasionally-used-for-testing-only operating system.

I'm just sick of it. Sick of the 10 minute boot time, sick of the endless patches, sick of Service Packs that render printers useless, sick of the bloat, just sick of the OS, period.

So, I did a little looking around the Internet - and I'm seeing that there are LOTS more people just as fed up as I am - AND they're voting with their dollars.

People are into "mobile" and anything "small" and "portable."

I mean, really - when was the last time you bought a "desktop" computer? Sure, there are uses for dedicated desktop boxes for things like video-editing, music composing, hard-core software development, etc.

But, in the main, people are buying laptops - and now, netbooks.

Ah, netbooks. Netbooks are the new Model T - but they come in more colors than just black. And with more than one choice in processors. And with more than one choice of operating system.

These (usually) sub-$500 machines come with solid state 128MB hard drives, 1-2 GB of RAM, a VGA-out port (ok, ok, so the 1024 x 768 resolution sucks), a battery that lasts between 5 and 9 hours and an operating system that can be Windows XP, Ubuntu, and now - TA DA - Android (for less than $300!).

The combination of the price point, the capabilities and the fact that most people use their computers to surf the web, check email, do some word processing and spreadsheets - oh, and play games - and viola! It's huge hit in the making.

"Sure, sure", you're saying - "but that's just on the consumer side. Everyone knows that consumers will jump at anything that's inexpensive and shiny."

That's true - but these consumers WILL buy and adopt - and that WILL force corporate IT (and web designers, and major company webmasters) to sit up and take notice. Ever hear of the iPhone? Look what a profound change has (is) occurring because of it... sits have dedicated iPhone "versions" of their sites, IT has been forced to make MS Exchange work nice, and IT - at the end of the day - has had to bow to the mighty forces of "cool" and "useful" over their (in some cases) strenuous objections.

"Well, OK" - you concede. "But Windows is more than just a consumer OS - it's what powers more than half of all the back end servers in the world."

Yep - for sure. However, Linux is no slouch with almost 1 in 3 computers using that OS for their back end servers. Linux, in its various distributions and forms, has been battle-tested and has been proven in the real world over time. Linux isn't going away any time soon.

Sure, it won't displace Windows Server in the near term - but I think the adoption rates will flip-flop as more and more consumers get used to non-Windows devices. As consumers drive the adoption of more non-Windows devices and as more IT folks get used to supporting non-Windows devices - it's only logical that IT's adoption of non-Windows devices will increase as well.

Will the "winner" be Android? Or Oracle's Solaris? Or Ubuntu? Or Red Hat? Or some new operating system not invented yet? Dunno... all I know is - the sooner the better!

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