Will 2008 Be The Year Of The Linux Desktop?

from the probably-not dept

People have been declaring the Year of Desktop Linux for years. Linus Torvalds himself declared the Year of the Linux Desktop way back in 2004, a prediction that now appears to have been a bit optimistic. Now, Forrester is predicting that 2008 will be the year that Linux becomes a "credible threat" to Windows. Color me skeptical. The suite of Linux desktop software—especially the excellent Open Office—has definitely improved over the years, with Ubuntu getting a lot of buzz over the last couple of years for putting out a polished and user-friendly product. But desktop users, and corporate desktop users in particular, tend to be very conservative. They want software they trust, and that they know will be compatible with other peoples' software. Unless Linux-based products offer compelling features that the Windows alternatives don't, it's just not going to be worth the risk of abandoning trusted software. Moreover, a lot of companies have a suite of specialized business software that was built around Windows that would be very costly to convert to another platform. Eventually, the cost savings may be compelling enough to get a significant number of companies to switch. Windows and Office are expensive, but switching your whole company to software that has unanticipated flaws is a lot more expensive. So the process of evaluating, testing, and transitioning to a new operating system is likely to take a decade, not a year. So I doubt that a significant number of companies will be providing Linux desktops to their (non-geek) employees by the end of 2008.

Filed Under: 2008, desktop, linux, operating systems

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  1. identicon
    zcat, 15 Nov 2007 @ 6:13pm


    I've been using Linux (as have the rest of my family) on the desktop for about the last 5 years, and several of my friends were already using Linux as their primary or only operating system well before that.

    More importantly, 90% of the people I know who are still using Windows _could_ easily be using Linux. I know there are "Power Users" who absolutely must have Photoshop or DragonNS or who want to be able to play Every FPS Game Ever Written but there are many ordinary home users who only surf the web, send and receive email, and edit simple documents that OpenOffice is more than capable of handling.

    I've converted many people over to Linux and I support them afterwards. And so far almost everything they've wanted me to install for them (eg PDF reader, MSN client, basic photo editor/filing system) has been something that was _already_ installed, but they just didn't know where to find it. I've hardly even needed to introduce them to the 18,000 packages available one checkbox away through synaptic!

    They year of Linux on YOUR desktop starts any time you feel like installing it.

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