Linux will never make any meaningful headway into the desktop. Nope, never. I could cite market share numbers, growth figures, and total cost of ownership studies, but none of that matters (plus, it's boring). Linux will never, ever defeat Windows because Windows has the little blue E. The blue E on my desktop that I can click …
Just another reason...
...to teach kids about different operating systems at school and college. My IT A level was done entirely in Word and Excel because that's what the teachers knew. If you questioned them about anything else you were just met with confusion.
If you start people early and show them multiple software packages and OSs then you can let them choose whichever they're most comfortable with and leave them to it. At least then you wouldn't end up with whole generations who know Windows and only Windows.
You are wrong
OK so you're right for now. That IS how things are but it won't always be the case. Imagine a world of applications in the cloud... Some say this paradise already exists...
One day the user will be used to their applications opening in a browser. What happens then? Well, in short: The operating system becomes as it should be, irrelevant.
As long as you have a web browser everything else is unimportant.
Last time I looked, Firefox is pretty multiplatform...
if windows stayed the same
.. the argument might stand up. However since windows is becoming arguably a worse user experience with every iteration and the number of virus' etc etc that stop you working only get more frequent, aren't those 'non-stupid' users going ask at some point, just how valuable is familiarity, its not valuable to MS in their new versions of the blue W.
This article has a view that is years out of date.
Too right, mate. I've used computers daily since 1985 starting with MSDOS, thru Windows 3.1 and 95 and XP. In the past five years I have tried Linux repeatedly and each time walked away.
I don't want an OS which forces me to learn new commands that have to be typed in laboriously. I don't want to have to do puzzling partitions to hard drives. I don't want to have to search reams of internet postings to find drivers that should be supplied as standard either in the OS or with the device. I've done all that before, it's not a productive use of my time and it's boring.
Linux -- it's obviously just too good for the likes of me.
> That being said, there's always an exception to the rule. The Reg published a story last week about an American woman who bought a Dell laptop that came with Ubuntu, and her unfamiliarity with it caused her to drop out of school.
if i remember it correctly she also dropped out because the schools website/online teaching thingamajig only supported IE.
Also i believe she was somehow taking a tech class (as in IT, I believe)... No more questions...
And not just Linux...
I wonder how many of the problems Microsoft had with Vista and market acceptance are not so much the resource usage (which only really the techies care about, and you probably wouldn't really notice anything in day-to-day usage if you've just bought a new computer three times as powerful as your old one), but the "everyday" users clamouring,
- "Aargh, how do I foo in this one!"
- "I can't find the bar anywhere!"
- "They've completely changed quux!"
&etc. to "I want my XP back!"
Watching non-technical users being exposed to new systems is an education. Techies have a tendency to go, "oh, it's not there any more", grumble a bit about relentless UI fiddling, then go menu spelunking until they've found what they need, no more worries. Normal people, on the other hand, are more apt to freeze, stare blankly at the screen, and murmur, "I want the old version back."
(Of course, acceptance of the new and relentless desire to learn is probably what made those people techies in the first place...)
You could be right...
I think you're right, I support a number of people, and the vast majority don't really care - it's a tool. I think longer term though - 20 years perhaps, we'll see people (and perhaps companies) care more. If Apple (or Linux) can succeed in getting a reasonable marketshare in the home market, these users will want that OS at work, or at least be aware that having that OS at work is a possibility...
OSs are only going to compete based on the value-added features - OS X has iLife etc, what does Linux have? My experience of Linux has been gradually getting better, but there's honestly just too much choice - your average user doesn't want to have to chose between 10 different photo album apps, or 5 word processors. I also find that Linux software is just not as well made as Windows software, let alone OS X software. I'd love to love Linux, but until the focus for Linux is on User Experience over all else, it's not going to succeed.
What holds linux back from the desktop is the closed-shop agreement between MS and the pc manufacturers. It's as simple as that.
What is this windows that you talk of?
or this blue E.
Inquiring minds wish to know.
Isn't a desktop the plank of material rather aptly named for being on top of a desk?
We do have these things we call computer systems, and oddly enough the better ones, the Ferraris, the Morgans, the Porsche, the Lamborghini, the BMW, the Volkswagon, the Mini variety they all run a variant of unix.
Not sure what the Skoda lot are using, though I hear it comes with a Blue E.
I hate windows - I think it's shite. But my girlfriend, and my brother and her mum don't CARE that windows is shite. As long as they can access their yahoo web mail and buy stuff from Next online and write a few letters and print stuff out. That's all they want. And so when they come to write a letter and up pops Open Office and it doesn't quite work the way Word does, they don't want to re-learn it - they just want Word back.
I don't like this, but I'm in a minority and while I will never agree (I think Word is shite too), I'm starting to give up on the battle against it - life is too short.
A geeky techie nerd writes
You're dead right, for once. I spent years as an IT manager and most people are just not interested in computers. They've spent years learning the basics of the MS Office apps that they have to use. If they need to do anything that they've never done before in Word or Excel, they 'phone their friendly support person or, in a small organisation, ask their local geek - who looks it up in the help files and shows them how to do it. They're not paid to be geeks. They're paid to be accountants, internal sales, production controllers, credit controllers, etc.
As an aside, we once had an accountant who knew how to use Lotus 123 R2. We had R3, and if a graph was ever needed, I had to take an hour off and do it for him....
You got this one spot on, now if it wasn't for all those pesky copyright issues and someone from the Linux community could bring themselves to stoop low enough to bastardise their beloved OS and make a distro that look and works EXACTLY like XP (OK, without the crashes, bloat, AV, DRM etc. Maybe even put some fake AV icon in the taskbar for peace of mind) then the revoulution could begin.
People, and by people I mean the "average" end user, are LAZY, they dont want to learn something new and you only have to look at Vista / Office 2007. Things changed and didnn't look exactly like people expected them to so a big backlash, people "downgrading" to XP and office 2003
Don't panic - you can get your E on Linux too...
I don't think so.
BTW, 99% of my use is on XP, 1% on Linux. but still a stupid article.
10 years ago the article may have made more sense.
Is there a middle finger icon?
Consideration of end users
It's the age-old problem with software. Designed by techies for techies, even when we try to take into account user requirements we still end up with a solution that isn't entirely intuitive.
Windows is by no means transparently intuitive, but it's a lot better at providing straightforward means of performing numerous end-user tasks than current breeds of Linux. Mac OS X has the potential to knock Windows from the dominant OS spot, but even that is unlikely for another three to five years (guesstimate).
The console is what's keeping Linux off the desktop
The day Linux can ship without needing a terminal is the day it can stand a chance on the desktop. The day you can install Linux on a generic PC and not have to visit the command line. The day your mum can survive the entire life-cycle of a PC without resorting to the shell.
Until then, it'll always be the purview of techies.
Sure, it'll always ship with a terminal (remember the debate around Mac OSX 10.0 about whether or not it'd ship with a Terminal?) but it's the day it doesn't *NEED* one it's in the game.
Fail to mention
I feel that
Windows is something you get
Mac is something YOU must go and get
Linux is something you must search for batter into usable shape Cry batter some more use, Wish it did stuff like windows can and then moan about how much windows costs.
Dont get me wrong i wish windows didnt come loaded with 50 million useless pieces of addons but, over the broad spectrum of computers available windows is the ONLY Sensible choice !!
It supports the most hardware configurations !
Mac VS Win = mac fail. They wernt really competing
need multi icon
The switch from Lotus to Excel gave my wife carpal tunnel and a good case of rage. Asking her to leave the W and the X would be just asking for trouble. And it is not that she is unintelligent, she just has other things to do.
Accurate as far as it goes
Of course, with Microsoft pushing heavy changes to both the Windows and Office interfaces, a "Windows skin" on a Linux window manager and a copy of OpenOffice actually provide more familiarity than new versions of Windows do. It's an anecdote I know, but my mother (the only typical user I have to support) is much happier with this setup than she was with Vista and Office 2007.
and then there is
The users, who have decided that paying for windows is just feeding the beast that keeps biting you, but have been stuck with it because the Linux required some coding to get working, a dam command console, which requires another language, when I haven’t finished learning my first one yet (English and I,m 27)
Then along came the bright idea at ubuntu to make it idiot proof with a desktop version. With all the drivers sorted for you and with a nice user interface that anybody who refuses to read instructions can get along with and most importantly I can play eve on it... - side note if you need an instruction book _ ITS DESIGNED WRONG.
So my first install yesterday went well, all done easily on a clean HDD and everything appears to be working.
Now onto those dam pivot tables.
On the business side – a single training course should sort out most users and those who are incapable of switching are probably best put to the top of the redundancy lists.
apathetic or idiotic?
it's not just that people don't care about computers, i keep running into to people who seem to have no interest in anything, and no curiosity at all about the world around them, whether it be languages, food or just generally wondering how something works, computer stupidity is pretty close to the old not being able to program the vcr issue i think.
How does one explain to these people that they may not be idiots as such, but if they're not going to use their brains they may as well be?
it doesn't take much research to figure out vaguely what an operating system is, what the green "x" actually is/does or that the monitor is not the computer.
it takes even less effort to not care and suck up whatever's dumped in front of you, but the more you do of either, the easier they get.
-by implication there must be people go to pieces when they get a new microwave/tv/washing machine/car that does exactly the same as the old one in a slightly different way? -i've never met one that i know of but i would call them idiots, or luddites if i were feeling generous.
it all depends on your definition of idiot i guess, personally i think someone who's unable or unwilling to learn is an idiot, with the latter being by far the worst of the 2.
paris, because even she likes learning new tricks.
>Some people are just dumb.
Indeed Ted, some people are! I've heard many a tale of people whose written prose consists of swearword after swearword, occasionally tied together with overly opinionated text. Some people are - as you say - just dumb.
When you don't know what you're talking about, it's best not to talk.
Linux needs to rule!
I look at my screen, my own little 3D environment, desktop cube, ect. and ect.
All my free applications, that work better or equivalent to Microsoft apps.
In my opinion, those users are not idiots (like that woman), she was just so
oblivious to take the proper steps with something unfamiliar...
I use windows of various ilk on my machines, but the blue "e"?
I only ever use that to make sure web pages aren't broken by it.
For everyday surfing, I use the orange fox.
If Linux can't usurp Windows' dominance....
...then maybe this one can.
Techie job creation scheme
Or maybe Windoze is preferred by IT types because if everyone used say Macs they would have nothing to do. I used to voluntarily run Mac support for a large science lab on the side of doing my proper job. It used practically none of my time apart from periodically defragging a drive so that large files would print. I entered this state because the IT people were so snowed under supporting NT etc that it could take them a week or more to get around to a job and it was easier and quicker to do it myself so life could continue.
Oh yes there was this one time that the beige G3 box was found to be riddled with nvir, only symptom was it ran a bit slow. Last time I saw a live virus on a Mac and nvir was ancient back then. Of course we had to worry about macro viruses in Word documents . . .
Mine's the white one with unmentionable biological spills on it.
Good article. Far too often are users exposed to IT people with no sence of service or how to talk to non tech people. Hopefully articles like this will help IT staff to realise that to help them self they need to lear the ways of the normale people hehe
... the thing that is holding linux back is that for key apps, the software is significantly inferior to Windows - Word, Excel, Outlook/Exchange and Photoshop are streets ahead of their Open Source equivalents. It's not familiarity of one over the other, it's that the software is demonstrably less capable.
I'm a "geek", I have a network at home of 8 pc's. I support a few locals and my company..I've just made the move to Linux (Ubuntu 8.10) on my Dell netbook and it works brilliantly and without a flaw. It's fast, repsonsive and reliable. I also run Windows XP on several pc's at home, but I am now preferring the Linux flavour.
The g/f has bought a new Dell laptop with Vista on it and I find it such hard work, fiddly and inutitive (damn the UAC!). I've had trouble with application compatibility on it. The contrast between it and Ubuntu in terms of usability couldn't me more marked - Ubuntu trashes it. But despite hating it, the g/f prefers Windows because it's what she knows
By contrast, a friend of hers has also bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on it and complains she can't find Internet Exploder, can't install her Windows specific apps, but is thrilled it has Word and Excel on it for free!
The problem as so rightly highlighted is familiarity - users want free software that is reliable...as long as it looks like Windows.
It's also a huge problem actually for MS. Many users saw Vista and screamed, not because of anything technical, but because it didn't look like XP. XP was around for far to long, and due to that became the default. Nothing else exists, or should exist. It was a known quantity (even if one which was incredibly crappy).
No matter what jazz they throw at Win7, and how it runs faster than XP on many machines (been testing the beta on a few older bits of kit, and its between the same and 10% faster than XP on the same machine). It doesn't matter. It's new fluffy interface means it will scare Joe Public. And if they can't see uniformity, they will scuttle back to what they know. XP.
The same is true of Office. Office 2007 scared the living daylights out of people. Yes, for the first time user it maybe a much better system, yet for the older user who has used it for the past 20+ years seeing the beloved menu bars vanish terrified them.
Is there a solution? Maybe, but not as it currently stands. Realistically the only possible way to stop such things is slow evolution over time so nothing majorly surprises the users. But the only way to do that would be something like the cloud.
I think Ted needs a break
I think I Ted needs to lie down in a dark room and get calm.
This "linux" thing obbviously upsets him. IWhen he comes out he can write about things he enjoys, instead of frothing at the mouth at how all these evil penguin people are deluded fools.
it'll be better for him
My considered opinion on the way this article is written:
So just get it banned as a class A drug. Call it "E's" and the dumb won't notice.
Close to home
We're currently having this argument in our office. Someone in Management has recently decided that everyone should move over to Ubuntu, "because it's better". That's the same reason they gave for Open Office, as well. (We think that certain people are unfairly bitter over Big G's paycheque).
Unfortunately, it would appear that "better" is actually a code-word for "cheaper" - it's all very well trying to cut costs and so on, but you're challenging someone's expectations and asking them to remain effective all at the same time.
We've already had the usual File Format wars with clients - they don't care if we're using Open Office or not, they want to send that Excel Spreadsheet with a bunch of customised macros and they expect it to behave exactly the same when I open it up - that's not too much to ask. You want to wean people off of one system and onto another, then be my guest - but users are a resiliant bunch.
It's one of those un-winnable arguments. The proponents will always argue that one is better than the other - personally, I use Windows. I know it like the back of my hand, I know what to do when it goes wrong, I know what things to turn on and what to turn off, and how to do it. I can navigate my way around a Linux system, I can understand partitions and just about figure out how to install 'compile your own' drivers, but I have to loose all the things that I use daily and know so well just because the alternative is "better"? I don't think our IT department has the knowledge or experience to adequately administer a bunch of Linux machines when they go wrong - and that will be it's downfall!
I reckon jeremy and Bert Ragnarok...
...are both right, in that the user experience has been getting steadily less familiar and agreeable, but I think that that isn't a "WIndows" problem nearly so much as an Office one. Let's face it, you could run Office on Linux if you wanted to, and the key thing that the users of the W and the X'd be complaing about wouldn't be anything to do with the OS, it'd be the ghastly redesign of Office.
Don't underestimate Joe Public
Yes, most people are uninformed enough to think the Microsoft software is good, invented the www, and other such nonsense, but it's just down to plain ignorance, fed by the Redmond marketing machine and Microsoft's illegal/immoral dominance of the channel. People are not really that stupid, just habitual and badly informed (a delicious irony in the information age).
Your argument only stands up when you focus on the retail PC in it's current form factor. As soon as other form factors arrive (iPods, SmallCheapComputers, mobile phones), users have no problem transitioning.
As we start to see more usable internet devices arounf the home/business (no, Windows PCs are *not* usable internet devices), then people will not care to be struggling with the legacy Windows UI and swiss cheese approach to security.
Remember, Microsoft's desctop dominance (which is unlike the dominance in *any other* business sector, within or outside IT) was created (and is maintained) by proved illegal and immoral practices. It is not there because it is better.
Bill Gates [evil icon], because Microsoft has held back true innovation in IT by at least five years.
Agressive and short-sighted
Wow, clearly the writer has some anger management issues "its only an operating system".
The main problem you are talking about is how intuitive the interface is and how well the operating system manages the computer for you.
If you take the argument that people want it to look like Windows then you just have to look at the failure of the distributions that try to mimic windows, they plus wine have a small market.
The only good thing about the E is the title. That was well worth Microsoft paying those millions for. Ask an internet virgin to connect to the internet and when they see "Internet Explorer" vs "Firefox Web browser" which are they going to pick?
Doesn't this point to a general O/S FAIL?
The fail is that ALL O/S's have monstrously crap help systems. That get worse if you're coming over from another O/S. Microsoft has a genuine advantage (pun intended) in that, as the incumbant majority O/S writer, people are most likely to use up their "I'm learning how to use a computer" mental budget on their product, so they benefit from rubbish help in that it leaves other systems having to be nigh on impossibly easy to use so as to not confuse people too much.
I suffer from a similar issue when it comes to graphics programs - if the menu structure isn't like Photoshop 7, I'll spend at least 5 minutes of confusion per use trying to figure out how to do anything.
I think the console could teach a lot when it comes to this, or at least games could. Games tend to have printed manuals (or at least PDFs), something O/Ss abandoned circa the original iMac. They come with quick reference cards. And often with (heaven forfend!) reasonably well thought out tutorial modes.
Vista offers a good example of what I mean - they've shuffled up the control panel: fine, I can live with that. They even allow you to switch to "Classic View". That's not going to last in future versions though, is it? I'm still going to have to learn the new view eventually, but you're going to make it hard for me. How about a bit in "Classic View" that actually tells me where it is in the new version - a "Where the hell is the Big blue E?" mode if you will?
By this argument...
Office 2007 is destined to fail, because the revamped UI is going to lead to users not knowing what's going on. I don't entirely disagree with this article, user familiarity is a major boon to MS, and a bummer to linux, but if that was the only barrier, some group would have set themselves up in some country with lax copyright laws offering something like this (With the menu modified yet further to make it look more XP-like): http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php/NotXP?content=73782 and the whole world would be using linux.
Alas no, I feel the biggest barrier is lack of porting of commercial software to Linux, it's a chicken and egg problem that wont be solved any time soon. Meantime, I'll keep on using it, but my XP partition will remain for the foreseeable future!
re: You could be right..
Nope, I think you're talking results not reasons.
The reason for this isn't that they don't care or even, really, that they are dumb. The problem is that all they've been told is the application not the problem.
Want to write a letter?
No! You want to use Office.
Want to browse the internet?
No! You want internet explorer.
Marketing from MS drive this through. The APPLICATION was the aim. Avoid mention of the problem to be solved because anything else can be used for that solution, not the product they are selling.
"With Microsoft Office you can write your letters, sort your accounts, even run your business...".
Pummel that often enough and people start thinking: "I need MS Office" when they REALLY need "to write a letter".
Schools have picked up that one because teaching how to use MS Office 97 is a hell of a lot easier than telling someone why they would want an integrated suite, or how to design a letter (which USED to be what they taught in English Literature classes when all you had was Pen and Paper, but then you didn't have to worry about fonts. Just how bad your handwriting was.). So teachers teach the application solution, not the problem to be solved. It's easier.
Then the kids grow up thinking of the product not the problem and they continue to demand MS Office or whatever when they should be demanding "Make writing a resume easy".
and it's been something I have said for a long time. The majority of desktop users will go with what they know. And they know what is provided at work.
It's not just the E, W and X. All MS apps are used in preference to any other because they have the same thinking behind them. File, Edit, View etc are the common thread that people will know and cling to. The spelunking trips they take will be in there.
Give them another application, and the different contextual menus will throw them. No exploring, nothing. Whine, cry, hold breath until they turn red etc.
Office 2007 has the ribbon. Different from 2003? Yes, at least in part. Same design across all Office apps? Yes. Full of win.
You linux trolls want to see linux on desktop (outside of your basement hovels)? Skin it to perform all the functions of Windows. Have it run applications including MS Office if the users want it. Make it look and feel exactly like XP. All the menus, buttons, icons.
Once that is done, and accepted by the majority of users, then you can start to slowly modify it to make it BETTER than XP.
Or you could continue to foam at the mouth whilst posting on forums, barking at the moon. Your choice, but only one of these options will change anything.
It's all that holds me back from Linux.
re: Agree 100%
You start off with:
"As long as they can access their yahoo web mail and buy stuff from Next online and write a few letters and print stuff out. "
But then say that they DO care what they use, the result is irrelevant:
"they don't want to re-learn it - they just want Word back."
They THINK they want the end result, but they are thinking of the product, not the problem.
You're all wrong and stupid
@Lee Stacey - Cloud? ROFL. It might take off a bit, but not for most things. It's a buzzword for exactly the same stuff that gets thrust to the forefront every ten years. call it client/server, call it distributed computing, call it thin client, call it mainframe. Never going to take over.
@Fihart - Once the tech has installed it for you then you don't have to know what a partition is. hell;, you don't need to if you install it yoursel. Hitting "Auto" on any old distro works these days. Also, you'll most likely find that Linux comes with more drivers than windows these days. Especially for devices that don't have a purpose written vista/win 7 driver.
@Jared Earl Linux can be done without the command line. You don't need it in ubuntu. At all.
In general I think it will take time, but linux will gain share for two reasons -
1. Windows is changing. Vista changed things, 7 changes them further. Most people will leap straight from XP, so who knows what's going to happen there.
2. Corporate and public sector linux usage is on the rise. It's in no way dominant yet, but in many countries there are private and public corps encouraging or even mandating linux usage.
Live CDs and The Extreme porn law
May help witht the penetration of Linux
Didn't The Reg report a little while ago that Firefox was now at 20% market share... Oh yes they did:
The gap is slowly closing, lets hope is keeps going.
and in reply to "Agree 100%" by AC @ 13:23
The situation you describe with family that just want to browse, email and write the odd letter. That makes your desktop an ideal candidate for switching to linux. Its folks that are stuck into a rouutine of Adobe software for instance that are hardest to switch, and frankly they aren't worth the trouble of trying to convince. Life is certainly too short for that headache, your situation is perfect however ;)
The "too much choice" argument against Linux is a telling one. I spent years working in the games industry and "meaningful / interesting" choices are key in designing a successful game: sure, you could make an RPG where literally _anything_ is possible, as in the real world, but the real world is, for the most part, quite dull. Most choices we make in our daily lives are so tedious that we don't even remember making them.
There's a damned good reason why Apple deliberately *limit* choices on their products, and now you have an idea why. Why provide fifteen different text editors? How many *ordinary users* ever even USE a text editor? (Seriously! When was the last time you saw your mother or aunt fire up Notepad?) Who CARES about Emacs? Who gives a toss about VI? Only the techies and geeks! These are the people who will cheerfully build a Gentoo system from scratch. If your distro isn't aimed at these people, STOP CATERING TO THEM. They are NOT your audience!
Is it beyond the wit of a Linux distro team to run some polls and _decide_ which apps are best-of-breed -- and I use the term loosely -- in the Linux ecosystem? Is it beyond their ken to just -- oh, I don't know -- get off their high horses and go _look_ at Apple's implementation of their "App Store"? Build something similar for Linux so all those other apps can still be made available to those who want or need them, but don't blind people with meaningless, pointless choices.
No, "apt-get" on its own is not enough and neither are most attempts at GUI-fying it. It needs to be capable of handling dependency issues silently, behind the scenes. Most importantly, it must include _meaningful metadata_ about each app. User ratings, for example. User reviews. Some kind of feedback loop which will make Linux developers actually sit up and take notice of what the ordinary punter really thinks of their software. As long as the only feedback developers see is from fellow developers, they will never, ever, produce anything Joe User wants to use.
Of course, there's nothing anyone can do about Linux developers who don't _care_ about Joe User. I am also assuming that these developers are in the minority in the Linux scene, which admittedly flies in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.
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