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By Anonymous at 2007-01-16 21:59
Hello and a belated happy new year to all my readers. I apologize for this delay in posting my next edition of Hari's Linux Corner, but since it was the holiday season, I figured that I might as well wait for a while before I started posting articles again in the hope that more people will read it.
In spite of the customary "Linux is not ready for the desktop" rants that we usually see all around the year, I think that it's clear that 2007 promises to be a remarkable year for Linux as a mainstream OS. I've already mentioned that Linux as an alternative OS is already catching on and with Windows Vista coming out and forcing end users to upgrade their hardware, I predict a greater degree of movement towards Linux, particularly in Asia and Europe. I've talked at length about Microsoft's unethical business practices and this includes the vicious upgrade cycle forced upon users. Till date, it has remained in the domain of software and however inconvenient, users have managed to keep pace with developments. However, I think Vista will be a major road-block for Microsoft in the consumer market. I don't think that in 2007, the end-user is as ready to accept Microsoft's diktats regarding upgrades as the user was in, say 2000. There is already a slow revolution shaking the IT world as more and more people have starting waking up to facts.
To be sure, it's a slow process, but it's been happening for a while now. The signs are pretty clear. About 2 years ago, people used to stare at me when I mentioned the word "Linux." There was clearly a lack of awareness among the general populace about Linux. More than anything, this lack of awareness is what has kept Linux as a "geek" OS. As much as the Linux trolls would love to argue otherwise, I think that ease-of-use is a non-issue. As far back as the late 90s, Linux desktop has started catching up with other GUIs and today, I think Linux as a desktop is far superior to that offered by Microsoft. If anything, I'm pretty sure that Microsoft is now playing the catching-up game in this regard.
The other important factor is that, awareness of Linux has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly in the last year or so. Today, most people are at least aware of Linux and are curious about it. When a couple of friends of mine asked about Linux, I was quite taken aback because I wouldn't have expected this two years ago. The only stumbling block here is the availability of Linux installation media in areas with low internet penetration and it could prove to be a major problem in the days to come. However, it's not an insurmountable problem and I am highly optimistic about it.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, Linux is now slowly gaining the ascendency over Windows in government establishments all over the world. In spite of Microsoft's FUD campaigns, governments are quickly and shrewdly realizing the lower costs of installing, maintaining and using Linux as a real alternative to Windows. While they might restrict Linux to servers at first, I'm sure that the prohibitive costs of running commercial, proprietary software on thousands of government machines will quickly lead to a greater adoption of Linux in many government offices around the world. More than the consumer market, I expect that this market (and the business market) to be the biggest threats to Microsoft in the coming days.
There's reason to be optimistic about the growth of Linux. Sure, Microsoft are fighting back with different strategies to counter the effect of Linux on the mainstream OS market, but they're fighting a new enemy this time - Linux is not just a competitor. Rather it's a revolution that's slowly and silently sweeping across the IT world. More and more, IT professionals are starting to realize the need to re-learn their skills for keeping up with these changes. The clear growth in the Linux-education sector is an indicator of this.
So, all I can say is "wake up and smell the coffee" to those who remain in blissful ignorance of the impact of Linux in the corporate and consumer world. The change might be slow, but it's definitely happening and it's creeping up to significant levels. 2007 might well be a landmark year in this regard.