Ye Editor received a link to a post from Linux Desktop guru Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols yesterday and it was a bit of surprise. The story on ZDnet’s Linux and Open Source is entitled “The Linux desktop is dead. Long live the Linux desktop”. It certainly caught my attention. In the post Steven argues that the Linux desktop version is still caught like Microsoft stock in neutral – 1-3% desktop market share over the past decade. But also perceptively Steven notes:
So, while the fat-client Linux desktop isn’t going to go away, and I’m certainly going to keep use it, I don’t see it growing out of its niche. Even if Windows 8 craters and makes a Metro-sized hole on the desktop, Linux won’t have a chance to grow at its expense because Microsoft will just keep pushing Windows 7 instead.Where the Linux “desktop” is growing is on tablets and smartphones. As Jason Perlow pointed out, we’re already living in a post-PC world. Android keeps growing like a weed on smartphones, and would Apple be flailing about with its idiotic tablet iPad design lawsuits if it wasn’t frightened of Android tablets eating into its market share? I think not.
Now ye Editor will not argue with this at all and has pointed out that Linux is doing very well in its Google clothing: see Android/Linux Triumph II from last April and more than a year ago when Linux Wins on the Desktop showed the triumph that Android was becoming => a big winner in smartphones while Android tablets had many promising tablet design wins. And sure enough, docking station enabled Android tablets such as Asus EEE Transformer, Mototrola Atrix, Toshiba Thrive, among others have pushed the tablet envelope such that users can have it both ways – laptop keyboard and mouse utility plus go+touch tablet convenience.
In effect, what Steven is saying in his post is that Linux on the desktop from traditional suppliers like Suse and Ubuntu are a good performing, but niche market [Linux as server remains robust as long as its superior security, reliability and response time advantages are maintained by Suse, RedHat and company]. Steven concludes that the future of Linux on the desktop and for mobiles is primarily in Google’s hands. Again, no argument Linux desktop and mobile future is almost completely in Google’s hands regardless of how distressing that is to Richard Stallman.
However, on the subject of Windows 8 and its new sumptuous Metro interface, Steven and I disagree. Ye Editor as stated here, thinks that Windows 8’s design is superior to anything on offer from either Apple or Google for 4 reasons.
1)The Metro UI interface is very well designed with superb graphic layout proportions, a whole new approach to full screen operation [default with no overlapping windows/popups], icon/chrome control[everything is hidden and revealed with a swipe], tiles are are live and useful making app icons look so outdated, and the disciplined Metro approach to touch and gestures is a god-send given the proliferation of three-fingered left-twisting swipes with a wink. The key is what metro designer Jensen harris said – classic chrome/control-filled Windows apps have their place – and how long and well will classic Windows apps be integrated into the Metro interface and supported in Windows 8 is the critical success factor for Metro- and the jury is still out on that.But at least we can clearly say Windows 8 is no “clone of things Apple”.
3)Windows 8 is cross platform unlike Apple[separate iOS and MacOS with no touch screen and other software goodies for Mac/OS yet] or Android and ChromeOS which really do not have yet a desktop presence
4)Windows 8 embraces the Cloud in a fully programmed approach – Apple and Google are still a few clouds away away from matching this. Yes, Metro Cloud apps are proprietary and Windows Azure primarily; but so will be Apple and Google’s offerings too.
So not for the first time, Steven and ye Editor will beg to differ. But be sure to read my review of Windows 8 and all its caveats and then the goods on Windows 8 Directions before deciding whose closer to right.
But lets return to our point of agreement – it is now Google’s Linux as far as success on the desktop+laptop+tablet +smartphones and devices. Suse and read hat are really server oriented and Canonical and company simply don’t have the finnacial ooomph to match Google or the monster blows sure to be raining down on Google Linux/Androis/ChromeOS from Apple and Microsoft [and even Oracle with its Java legal patent foray].