Why Microsoft's Metro Push Is Good for Linux: Page 2

The Windows 8 interface may prompt a certain group of users to adopt the Linux desktop.
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The little fact that many folks tend to forget _ older hardware support sucks on Windows 7. How great do you think it's going to be with Windows 8?

My own mother, for example, had an older computer that she was running Ubuntu on. Being completely indifferent to which OS she uses, she decided to upgrade her hardware from the Ubuntu box (which came with XP) to one running Windows 7. Immediately, the list of peripherals that wouldn't work began to add up.

Both her older printer and scanner were a no-go. Driver support wasn't available from the manufacturer based on the ages of the devices. Then her bluetooth dongle also failed to be recognized.

I managed to get it working using an XP driver, oddly enough. The peripherals that did work, such as a USB headset and external DVD writer, always took a bit to "activate" anytime they were unplugged. In the end, all this headache in switching back to Windows was done simply to run her old Microsoft Publisher program. Not because she enjoyed the software, rather because she had files that were in Publisher format.

In hindsight, we opted to look into running Publisher with WINE and dumped Windows completely. The only thing Windows 7 had going for itself with her was the familiar interface, although she adapted to Unity sometime ago. How is Windows 8 going to convert her again?

Back on the Ubuntu desktop, every single peripheral worked out of the box. Even her wireless radio built into her little desktop was detected and running. Will this experience be possible with Windows 8? Does Microsoft honestly believe that anyone outside of die-hard Windows users and developers give a rip about "tiles" and relearning the entire experience?

My guess is that many people will roll their eyes, revert to the classic desktop and avoid the Metro UI like the plague.

Windows XP to Vista/7 to 8

There is no question in my mind that this article will face readers who totally disagree with me. Clearly, gamers and enterprise users will continue to view Windows as relevant. But what they fail to realize and that Apple and Google have realized is that Microsoft is a dollar short and a day late to the mobile space. Worse, now they're destroying the one area where they reigned supreme _ the desktop.

It's been said that Vista's worst competition was the fact that XP users had no reason to upgrade. Unless it came on a new computer, there wasn't a compelling reason to bother moving forward with the new OS.

The only reason why Windows 7 has done so well is the fact that the XP machines were getting old and users needed to upgrade. Bundle this with the fact that a new OS was long overdue, and Windows 7 provided a decent experience.

Perhaps most important, despite its incompatibilities with varied older peripherals, Windows 7 didn't feel that much different than Windows XP. Short of the removal of the start button, it felt familiar.

Linux distributions such as Ubuntu paid a heavy price in user blow-back when they introduced the Unity desktop. While much of this blow-back has subsided, the fact remains that users have since discovered that they are not limited to Unity.

There are a wide variety of Linux distributions out there, offering the same software as Ubuntu. Can Windows 8 say the same? Will the classic desktop be enough to encourage users to jump to the new Windows release? I don't think so...at least not until they need a new computer.

The biggest advantage I see for the Linux desktop prompted by Windows 8 is that experienced Windows users will be seeking alternatives. Unlike the casual Windows user, experienced users are more likely to upgrade their hardware. This means instead of buying a whole new system, they might simply increase their RAM, add a new video card and expand their hard drive.

In some instances, they may have built a brand new system, but aren't too keen on the idea of trying to get past the Windows licensing headaches. Lost your Windows 7 key? Good luck getting past that issue without opening your wallet.

No, I think even if it's just out of curiosity, some users will dip their toes into desktop Linux distributions. And many of those who try it might find themselves sticking around.

Obviously, gamers will happily pay the Windows tax and get a new license key, since their gaming depends on the OS. But for non-gamers, there is some real potential to gain a few additional Linux converts. And I for one, welcome them. The Linux community welcomes you.

And for those wondering about secure boot, those of us who build our own PCs will likely be able to overcome the issue.


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Tags: Linux, Microsoft


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