Never Say Never…

After my last post regarding the constant talk about the “death” of Linux, a friend of mine said something to me that I thought was worthy of a follow-up post.

“Linux is almost 20 years old. If it hasn’t even made a dent in the desktop market by now, it’s never going to overtake it.”

While I’ve known my friend for almost fifteen years now, it’s sometimes hard to find things that we actually agree with each other on.

Even though Linux is on the verge of it’s twentieth birthday, there are a lot of exciting things coming our way that could have a huge impact on Linux in the market. The one that I want to talk about right now is “The Cloud”.

There’s been a large number of commercials on TV lately about “The Cloud”, showing off Microsoft’s products and showing you what they can do for you. Microsoft is putting a huge effort into associating “The Cloud” with Internet Explorer and Windows. The reason for this is pretty simple. “The Cloud” is the best opportunity for the computing world to finally escape Microsoft.

More and more applications are moving to the cloud these days, and web based services  are doing everything from helping you type out your documents to playing video games. Few of these cloud based apps rely on Windows. They run the same on Linux as they do on the Mac, as they do on Windows. So, in a world where applications are finally cross platform, why stick with Windows? Any “good” reasons that can be put forth start to be whittled away. Linux is cheaper (a lot), just as easy to use, and more secure. Without the application lockout that Microsoft has enjoyed for the last thirty years, Windows is in real trouble from it’s competition.

Of course, there is always risk. As I said before, Microsoft is putting an enormous amount of effort and money to make the cloud into just another extension of Windows. They want to tie it to Internet Explorer as closely as they can. This is one of the reasons I watch the browser market so closely. The browser is the next platform war to watch. Applications that are moving out into the cloud, or are already in the cloud may be tempted to focus more on Internet Explorer than on Firefox or Chrome. This year did see a steady if small decline in Internet Explorer usage, but it still maintains over fifty percent of the market.

Should Microsoft be successful in it’s efforts the computing market will be stuck under Microsoft’s rule for the foreseeable future, but if it’s not, this could lead to the opportunity Linux needs to make a significant dent in the desktop market. Of course, it’s not hard to guess who I’m rooting for.

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