Home > Uncategorized > If Windows is closing down, Linux may remain the only major open OS

If Windows is closing down, Linux may remain the only major open OS


Disclaimer: The following is only speculation but it pretty much resonates with current events.

Based on the events of recent weeks, it very much looks like Microsoft is heading to make Windows a closed ecosystem (a la Apple). They want to make both the hardware and the OS and third-party applications can only be sold with their approval and only through their App Store (with a 30% commission to Microsoft).

What points to this?

1) It is now widely known that Metro applications will only be allowed to get installed through the Microsoft App store. Windows8 RT – the new Windows variant for ARM-based devices – will only run Metro applications. Even on Windows8 x86 – which is supposed to be the more open variant, costing more – you will not be allowed to side-load a Metro app. Windows8 x86 will be able to run traditional desktop apps, which Microsoft now calls “legacy”.

2) Microsoft made an attempt to completely remove support for creating “legacy” desktop applications with their free development tools (Visual Studio). Seeing the outrage, they quickly retreated and promised to leave desktop development tools in VS but the intention was pretty clear: they want to force developers to stop developing desktop apps and only write Metro apps which can be distributed exclusively through Microsoft.

3) The desktop user interface has been made very unappealing (ugly), all of the eye-candy brought to you by Aero has been killed. Microsoft says that this is for a uniform desktop interface between Windows8 x86 and Windows8 RT but it can be easily seen as on other attempt to make the desktop a second-rate citizen which should be phased out. I, for one, doesn’t see any problem with a configurable Aero which runs all features when the hw is strong enough and runs less features when the hw is weak (or battery life is important).

4) Microsoft has come out with the Surface tablet/notebook hybrids and it intends to sell it under their own brand name. This was a cold shower for their current hardware partners (ASUS, Acer,Dell…etc) which have a wide variety of Windows-based products (desktops, laptops, tablets).

5) Game developers/distributors Valve and Blizzard have criticized Windows8 and its newfangled, closed approach. They also fear loosing their distribution market and getting slapped a 30% Microsoft-tax (the rate of Microsoft’s commission when you sell your application through their store).

If this transition is in fact under way, Microsoft obviously needs their hw partners only until the transition is finished and they are ready to ship their devices in volume. (Without this, Windows shipments could collapse prematurely, since partners would start fleeing platform) After this, they will only need “dumb” ODMs since they want to get the majority of the profit on hardware sales as well. When Microsoft is ready, it simply stops selling Windows OEM licences (just like Apple did anno) and all current partners must stop shipping their wares with Windows.

Hw partners will of course suffer deeply since the majority of their profit comes from selling Windows-based devices. They probably see what is going on since, for example, Acer stood up and used very strong words to discourage Microsoft from their course of actions (“This is not something you are good at”, “think twice”…etc) which is pretty unusual between partners. Other hw partners (ASUS, Dell…etc) remain silent but I am fairly sure that their think-tanks are now on afterburner, trying to analyse the situation and possible escape routes.

Now, the situation of Microsoft hw partners is pretty bleak. The second most popular OS, Mac OS X, is not available for them. If Windows OEM editions become unavailable as well, they will only be able to switch to Linux or Android on their laptop/desktop product lines.

How could the big hw producers counter this threat?
1) Using Android (Linux)

Most of the big-name producers already have Android tablets and hybrids in production so hardware wise they could easily step-up the game. However, Android completely lacks a desktop environment which is essential for productive work done with keyboard and mouse so it is currently good for content consumption but not for productive work. It completely lacks high-quality productivity applications and it will take a lot of time by these are created or ported (a proper office suite, Photoshop…etc). It is rumored that Google is preparing a kind of desktop solution with Android 5 but since it is not expected to support standard desktop Linux applications that will not help the productivity-application shortage at all.

2) Using Desktop Linux(es)

The more clever hw producers (like ASUS & Dell) established a Linux-program long ago (ASUS netbooks, Dells older offerings and its new ultrabook…etc) even if the main purpose was only to squeeze Microsoft for lower OEM Windows licence fees. These producers are not completely unprepared but their sales will still suffer greatly if Microsoft decides to move quickly.

The Linux desktop(s) are absolutely ready feature and usability wise. Unity, Gnome3, KDE, MATE and others are all ready for wide-scale deployment. In fact they may prove more familiar to users than the Metro/desktop frankenstein of Windows8. These desktops have been perfected in the recent years and can actually beat the dumbed-down Windows8 desktop in eye-candy and usability.

Hw-related engineering is also not a problem since there are a huge amount of people and companies which have intimate knowledge of the Linux kernel and available for subcontracting. For example, Ubuntu has a fairly strong backing company (Canonical) which has already proven itself for the hw producers (by providing engineering-services for devices coming with Ubuntu). So customizing desktop Linuxes for their hardware and selling them would be no problem at all.

The Linux-desktop is also much stronger in productivity applications than Android. It has LibreOffice, Thunderbird, Evolution and other fairly usable desktop software. In addition, it can run a wide array of Windows desktop applications in Wine.

However, the commercial application ecosystem on the Linux-desktop land is way underdeveloped compared to Windows and that would make Linux-shipping desktops unviable for a lot of people. LibreOffice may do for a lot of people instead of MS Office but the lack of AutoCAD, Photoshop and other productivity applications may be a deal breaker (some of these don’t run in Wine at all or only very old versions).

General hw support has come a long way in recent years but exotic hw is still badly supported. Nothing makes a customer more annoyed than buying a peripheral (say a webcam) which doesn’t work with their Linux desktop. This also needs a lot of work but the most important hw is supported adequetly now (like wifi, , bluetooth sticks, 3G modems…etc).

3) Android and Linux desktop together

A lot of new devices can benefit from a hybrid like Ubuntu for Android. A Transformer Prime with a docking station could use the Android interface when detached and use the desktop interface for productive work when docked. Due to the recent merging of Android and mainline Linux kernels, this route is becoming viable. Even traditional, non-touch desktops could benefit from this arrangements since Android has a lot of small but useful consumer applications. These can run on the desktop in windowed-mode and used with mouse and keyboard just like normal desktop programs.

So, which alternative?

All alternatives are fairly problematic for the producers’ point of view (from the current. Windows-based, status quo) but I believe the best solution is the hybrid model, since it brings together the ecosystems of Android and desktop Linux. But even in this scenario, the relatively underdeveloped state of the commercial application segment may be a show-stopper so I think they need to work in this direction. Some ideas:

First of all, the producers need to orchestrate their Linux efforts in order to solve the problems within acceptable budgets. Since they need solutions very quickly, it may cost them a lot and spreading these costs may make the task more palatable. The efforts also need to be centered on one Linux distribution because the current variation between Linux distros is simply too wide for the hw producers to stomach (also for cost reason). Ubuntu is the obvious choice here since it is specifically developed for consumers in mind and it is the most ahead of partnerships and market recognition. After the commercial Linux ecosystem becomes big enough, other distros will come ahead in any case.

Hardware producers should very quickly set up an organization which has the sole purpose of making the commercial application ecosystem of Linux viable. Normally, this is not their responsibility but now they MUST make this happen or face the consequences of loosing their market completely. The new organization should directly approach major software providers and provide funds for porting efforts where necessary. Some game developers like Valve are already in the process of creating support for Linux but most commercial app developers would not port anything until demand is high enough (chicken-and-egg) so they need some persuasion to port their applications.

If the hw producers can strengthen the commercial Linux application sector sufficiently quick, they can create an escape window for themselves in case Microsoft really wants to follow the Apple-model and lock-down Windows. If this scenario comes about and only Microsoft and Apple remain standing that would be a complete disaster for the current crop of PC harware manufacturers and consumers alike. If Linux/Android can become a viable contender in the desktop/laptop segment that will give way to a huge transformation on the market with Linux market share reaching 20-30% in only a couple of years.

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  1. SET
    August 11, 2012 at 04:20 | #1

    General hw support has come a long way in recent years but exotic hw is still badly supported

    They can provide drivers for Linux the same way they did for Windows. They know their hw better than any.

  2. Carling
    August 11, 2012 at 09:30 | #2

    Nice plug for Ubuntu once again. Your check is in the post….

  3. -
    August 11, 2012 at 12:43 | #3

    “Your check is in the post”
    check? what’s a check?
    it is in your post? what else could you mean by “post? fence post? you have Czechs hiding inside, like a Trojan horse?
    :-)

    about the article. i skimmed the lower 1/3. i don’t see ms giving up corporate sales. but they would buy through the ms app store (or buy cloud subscription through ms store?)
    don’t overlook haiku-os

    recall IBM clones in the 1980s?
    imagine the reverse process, where ms restricts licenses to hw. maybe ms wouldn’t sell hw, but ms would approve fewer hw system makers?

  4. Marcus
    August 11, 2012 at 14:18 | #4

    Using Windows has not been since, let’s say 2006 been necessary at all. I understand that perhaps 10% of people are using some “only Windows” applications not working well enough under Wine. However huge majority of people don’t use any special applications so they could move easily to Linux. They could save lots of money by this change.

    My current pc was bought in 2005 and i moved to Linux in 2008. Haven’t spent single cent money for software during the last 4 years. With 2GB RAM and Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT i’ve had no problems with any major Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Mint, SUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Mageia, PCLinux etc…)

    I have any idea will i buy pc when my current pc is absolutely too old (perhaps 2015-16). I might be possible that my next one will be either tablet or some ARM smaller computer. Tens of millions of people are using now their last pc-computer.

  5. Carling
    August 11, 2012 at 20:50 | #5

    check? what’s a check? My goodness what world do you live in?

  6. Carling
    August 11, 2012 at 20:57 | #6

    what else could you mean by “post? fence post? >> you should be tied to a fence post? <<

  7. surfer
    August 12, 2012 at 01:45 | #7

    very interestering. Hmmmm. Nothing better 2 do but think up ways 2 squeeze money out of people. And they pay people cum up with these ideas!

  8. Darth
    August 12, 2012 at 09:10 | #8

    Check = Cheque. Check?

  9. PainfullyObvious
    August 12, 2012 at 17:55 | #9

    Windows isnt going anywhere anytime soon. Sure you can install either OS and get your stuff working. Wine may help you with getting windows apps running at some sort of price, wether it be performance or some glitch. While windows isnt error free either it does have what Linux doesn thave going for it, a closed system. Sadly linux’s biggest issue is being open source, its too fragmented and their are too many hands in the pot. The larger distros may be the exception to the rule but the reason windows has survived and works well is because of this.

    • Carling
      August 12, 2012 at 18:43 | #10

      Windows works well?
      Question
      Since when?
      Question
      what does windows have that Linux hasn’t got?.
      Let me rephrase that what has windows got period
      Sadly Linux’s biggest issue is being open source,
      Answer
      you got that wrong, That’s Linux best issue.
      Linux is too fragmented
      Answer
      only you think so, Linux users don’t, they know better,
      Their are too many hands in the pot.
      Question
      How many hands are now in Microsoft’s open development?
      Reply
      Know what your talking about before making sorry FUD statements

  10. August 12, 2012 at 20:15 | #11

    If the likes of Dell or HP were suddenly unable to ship Windows PCs they would certainly suffer. However they will have until 2020 or some such to get their Linux offerings in order. Microsoft have legal contracts with these companies to provide Windows and support it. They can’t just pull the plug tomorrow. That’s not how business works. If they did there would be a massive anti-trust case to answer.

    This sudden demise of Windows isn’t going to happen no matter how hard we may wish for it.

    • Carling
      December 8, 2012 at 08:51 | #12

      Kevin :- When I make a statement you can bet your life on it that it’s true, That’s the difference between me and you, I know what I’m talking about you don’t, Dell are still turning out windows 8 8ystsems, Contract or no contract with MS. That has not stopped Dell partnering with Canonical Ubuntu and lining up 280 computer sales outlets in china to sell their systems with Ubuntu Linux installed on them. At the same time supply systems to the education departments in Spain where 1.6 million students and 400,000 teachers are now using Linux. The same with the Italian government and education departments have now moved to Linux Which also includes Pakistan, India. and the UK governments

      Has for Hp they to supply NONE windows systems. They developed their own Linux operating system Known as WebOS. So please in future don’t think that computer manufactures depend on MS they don’t far from it. Plus the fact all computer Manufactures have to PAY MS a License fee to install windows on their systems it’s NOT free,

      When windows 8 users learn what MS have in store for them the will be an up rower from them. MS locking the new win 8 systems down so the it will only run 8. Paying an annual $99 license to use Office, having to buy all none windows software from MS, Not being able to download and install free software or web browsers of their choice.

      Kevin know what your talking about before you ever question my posts again

  11. PainfullyObvious
    August 12, 2012 at 22:35 | #13

    In reply to Carling – Not making a statement that denoted that sorry reply, just pointing out what ive seen over the years

    I use Gentoo on my laptop from a Stage 1 tarball, and Windows 7 on my desktop, been using Gentoo linux since 1.4 release when windows xp was the prevailing microsoft OS, its not a sorry ‘FUD’ statement, just pointing out that linux and windows have had this debate for years, and a sorry windows release isnt going to mean its end. They weren’t happy with Millenium Edition, Windows XP X64 and Vista, but here we are 2012 and still going strong. Both of them. But sadly to say for the average user Linux stilll has a ways to go. Steam however seems to have something nice going for them however and that could finally be what Linux needs.

    • Carling
      December 8, 2012 at 09:13 | #14

      PainfullyObvious
      What would you like me to do jump through a hoop because you use Gentoo on your Laptop and windows 7 on your desktop, more fool you for using 7, I personally would be ashamed to admit that.

      Gentoo has a great Architecture support i486, i586, i686, x86_64, alpha, arm, hppa, mips, powerpc, ppc64, sparc64 and support for Desktop: AfterStep, Blackbox, Fluxbox, GNOME, IceWM, KDE, LXDE, Openbox, WMaker, Xfce and Category: Desktop, Server, Source-based

      It’s Painfully Obvious that windows 8 on computers and windows 8 phones is going to fail

  12. August 14, 2012 at 03:18 | #15

    Reblogged this on txwikinger's blog.

    • Carling
      December 8, 2012 at 09:17 | #16

      txwikinger
      Thanks for that web link, it will come in handy for a report I’m doing

  13. jeycoff
    October 11, 2012 at 05:26 | #17

    their photoshop app is way better than photoshop itselfbut the names are all personal related so is dificult to related them like now. and autocad see Qcad for instance…

    • Carling
      December 8, 2012 at 09:29 | #18

      Jeycoff
      You’re right there about Gimp being better than Photoshop, You will find Free Open Source Software names are abbreviation Gimp = Graphical Image Manipulation Program

  14. Carling
    December 8, 2012 at 09:36 | #19

    Nice Idea web linking your name to your website, I must remember that, Yes nice things can be learned from contents in blogs you just taught me one :)

  15. December 8, 2012 at 14:06 | #20

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  16. December 23, 2012 at 05:56 | #21

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It’s the little changes that produce the most significant changes. Many thanks for sharing!

  1. August 12, 2012 at 16:00 | #1

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