Saturday, August 11, 2012

Should open-source morals stand in the way of Linux world supremecy?

In the recent past Valve and Blizzard have both come out with damning comments regarding the up and coming Windows 8. Valve has backed these comments up, announcing that they will be porting Steam to Ubuntu. Windows 8 and metro is a gamble and Valve thinks that it will fail. Could this mean Linux has an opportunity to gain market share from windows? Is Linux ready? Is what has made Linux now becoming its own worst enemy?

Microsoft’s Gamble
The Metro interface has been developed to take full advantage of touch. Not unlike Gnome 3. The problem with Metro and Gnome 3 is that the shells primarily cater for touch while alienating traditional PC set-ups. Gnome 3 has become very unpopular for that reason and Microsoft may be starting to make the same mistakes. Just as Debian has now dropped Gnome3 in favour of xfce, many developers like Blizzard and Valve could reduce development on the platform. 

In my opinion only Ubuntu has managed to create a interface that is as good for touch as it is for PCs. Only problem is there is no Ubuntu tablets. LOL! Apple on the other hand continue to develop two separate operating systems one for touch (iOS) and one for Macs (OS X). Windows has ignored the signs and continued to develop for touch.

But this is the least of Microsoft's problems: Microsoft are alienating their corporate customers by providing a operating system that isn't office friendly. I cannot imagine writing documents and/or emails just on a touch interface. It would take too long. Or trying to navigate through Metro with a Mouse and keyboard. Metro is an innovation too far. Ubuntu's Unity is the compromise...

To make things worse, Microsoft is going into competition with their OEM partners with the Surface. This is sure to make enemies of partners who through mutual benefit created a monopoly of the PC market. Dell already has a history of shipping Ubuntu PCs/Laptops and could do again in the very near future.

It couldn't be a better year for Linux to gather pace and steal market share from Windows. Valve has already committed to porting Steam to Linux with Ubuntu being first. So is this the year or Linux or Ubuntu.

Linux Fragmentation
Like it or not Linux is fragmented. The advantage to fragmentation is choice. Choice is a good thing for those who know that their is a choice. But for the majority of users they don't want choice they want to watch kittens doing funny things on youtube. Companies on the other hand wants stability and long term support.

So is Linux ready? Ubuntu is ready:
  • Its already popular
  • Recent release of a Long Term Support
  • Already has an good brand.
While the rest of the open source community are discussing whether it is ethically right ot wrong to allow Steam on to Linux. Ubuntu has positioned its self as a real alternative to windows.

In my opinion only Ubuntu and maybe Mint (Ubuntu derivative) are ready for the mainstream. The "Linux" brand will indirectly benefit from Ubuntu's market share gain, but it will be Ubuntu who will really benefit from when it breaks free of its Linux branding and becomes its own Brand. I can only hope that in the future Ubuntu;s brand will stand up and not out of place next to Windows and Mac OS.

For more thoughts see my post on How Unity has helped Ubuntu branding.


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