For once, a thoughtful post and not too bad discussion about Vista, Linux and All That Jazz over on Slashdot. Bennett Haselton discusses his experience with Vista in terms I agree with. Yes, it is a beautiful interface, but it deviates from what I am used to (for no apparent reason), runs somewhat slower and certain features (FolderShare, for one, which is a Microsoft Live product but only works if you employ some rather tedious workarounds) don’t work at all. Which creates a problem for me – we have a bunch of computers at home, mostly XP, but two Vista laptops. They are used by my wife and youngest daughter, which means I am Chief Troubleshooter on a system I don’t use myself (my employer uses XP). The main problem with them is that what I thought was a rather smart system setup with reciprocal backups, dependable networking and orderly file structures becomes unmanageable because Vista hides so much of its inner workings from view. In contrast, my middle daughter recently got a MacBook and is self-sufficient (and, for her, Foldershare works).
As for the following inescapable Linux discussion (yes, I am IT literate enough to run and sometimes also configure Linux. My family isn’t. My workplace doesn’t do it. I can’t afford to throw out everything and go with Macs, partially for work compatibility issues, partly because Apple doesn’t have a Tablet laptop. Unless (hint) Apple decides to upgrade the whole family for free in the hopes that I will vax poetically about it here.)
I think Blindspot nails the future for Linux in a comment titled Innovation is the Killer App:
STOP TRYING TO MAKE LINUX BE WINDOWS!!! People already have Windows, they don’t need a replacement. That’s why they don’t switch. The "replacement Windows" idea was already tried: it was called OS/2 Warp for Windows, and we know what happened there. (Never heard of it? Bingo.)
Look at where Linux’s successes are: Servers and mobile devices – places where Linux doesn’t try to emulate Windows. Places where developers actually innovated instead of just copying. The robustness, versatility, and stability of a Linux server – that’s the killer app for servers. The portability and the ability to do unique interfaces like those on the XO or the Eee – that’s the killer app for devices.
It doesn’t just work for Linux. Apple too sees the most success where it has tried to take the lead: the iPod, iPhone, MacBook, etc. In this case it’s the simplicity and/or distinct function-meets-form interfaces that provide the edge. If they made the iPod be like every other MP3 player, and the MacBook like every other laptop, Apple might not even exist now.
Don’t try to beat Microsoft at its own game. You can’t. The way to beat them is to change the game entirely. I’ve been saying this for years, but sadly developers still waste tons of time and effort trying to make Linux be Windows. If only they instead put this into making the next big breakthrough in user interface or computer design using Linux as the platform. Something that 15 years for now will make us say "I can’t believe we used to use a desktop window interface" in much the same way we now talk about dumb terminals and typewriters. It’s gonna happen anyhow, so why not do it on Linux
<span flame="off"> Or whatever. </span>, I suppose.
Goodness, I must have overdosed on this delicious coffee on a nice Saturday morning. But the points, whatever they are, stand. And now we return to our regular programming….