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Windows’ only advantage over Linux? December 11, 2006

Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux.

(update: after a comment by the author of this post, I have made a few changes)

I was reading this article and it suggests that any Linux distribution available is ready for the common user (who wants to just check her/his mail and browse the net). I agree. And just when I was going to differ the author added…

The author went on to say, “Linux will always be behind on hardware device compatibility due to the closed nature of commercial hardware and software makers. This is the only advantage XP and OSX have over Linux.” This is a powerful assertion. And again I’m inclined to disagree (a little). But it does make you think: make a interesting fantasy thought… What if all the hardware available on the market was equally supported on Windows and Linux, would we still use a Windows-based machine?

Well, immediately I could think of no good reason until I remembered another article on why/how “Apple Bounced Back” which stated that the Mac’s only hope to survive was to enter into the exclusive-for-Mac software market. Thus, by offering exclusive iLife solutions, and especially its video editor FinalCut Pro, it has been drawing people to its machines because of its unique (excellent) software. The Mac articles says, “Suddenly users had compelling new reason to buy a Mac over a PC: Macs came bundled with a lot of unique software that just worked. It would cost a couple hundred bucks to assemble a similar suite from third party Windows developers. That effectively erased the price advantage held by cheaper, low-end PC makers.”

With respect to the author of the earlier article (Scott), I guess I would add that Windows has two advantages over Linux; hardware support and exclusive (not really but effectively b/c when do you think Adobe will release Photoshop for Linux?) software. What I’m saying is that while I agree with the author that Microsoft is a recipient of hardware support (that is not a testimony of it’s excellence), Microsoft is also the recipient of many excellent software that draw users to the MS Windows platform.

With that said, I guess virtual environments (and all that WINE/Crossover offers) can help solve the second software hurdle (eventually). Meaning, one day, the hope is, the operating system won’t matter if you want to run Adobe’s Photoshop/Dreamweaver/InDesign packages. (Wow!).

But then more importantly (and perhaps more distant) is the hardware question. In my experience, while I have a HP driver in my Ubuntu, I still can’t get it to print in non-economy mode. Hardware support is thus the clincher. (Yes, we need to support Linux only hardware. But this is not always possible. The only internet service provider in my region uses an IE only website to view important bandwidth usage. I have to use IE. Similarly, many other services, force us into the MS/Windows world).

But if… and here’s back to fantasy… if I had no hardware support problems in Linux… and if 3rd party Windows-based software could be used on Linux… then there is surely nothing, absolutely nothing, holding me back to Windows.

That must be quite an exciting thought for Linux-developers… and a scary thought for Windows, don’t you think?



1. Scott Kindley - December 11, 2006

Hello, thanks for mentioning my article.

I wanted to point out that email and web browsing is not, and has not been, “fantasy” on any Linux distribution .. ever. Difficult to use in the beginning for regular people yes. Fantasy no.

The simplicity of using Linux tools to accomplish those tasks has increased and become rival to those on other platforms, in many cases it is better. So in that context Linux has become Regular People Ready.

Your example of Adobe porting Photoshop to Linux doesn’t apply to my article or it’s points. Linux has alternatives to proprietary software. The only real software hurdle is one imposed by patent encumbered file formats, and the perception some people hold that “brand x” is the only option. (BTW The Gimp can open and use Photoshop files just fine)

Your inability to get your HP printer to print in non-economy mode supports my assertion that end users will have to research their hardware choices more so than windows users if, and until, all hardware manufacturers open up API’s/Specs to open source developers to design and implement their own solutions for hardware utilization. Any OS will be behind the mainstream OS when the playing field is closed by patent restrictions.

Scott :)

2. NAyK - December 11, 2006

To Scott: Oops. Sorry for not rightly referencing your article. Actually I was meaning to interact solely with your intriguing idea that the only advantage Windows had over Linux was hardware support. My extension to that thought was that Windows also has what can be effectively called ‘exclusive’ Windows-software that users would want (something like Mac video editor). While Linux may have alternatives, they are not on the same playing field as some of the for-Windows software (yet). And so, people would want to stick with Windows, just for the software (which Microsoft had nothing to do with in the first place!). So, if, and this was my ‘fantasy’… that if Linux could run all for-Windows software effectively… and if all hardware was supported… then Linux would by far be the better Operating System. I thus agree with the implication that Windows is “made” superior simply by other businesses, and it is not it’s own greatness as an OS.

I also know that common users can use Linux for all basic tasks. I myself use Linux for many basic things. And I agree with you there. Sorry if my post wasn’t clear on that.

I’m going to made a few edits on the article now, to correct a few perspectives. Thanks for your comments.

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