Friday, September 09, 2005

Cracks in Windows beginning to show?

Up until now, my geek fanaticism has been mostly self-interest. I like Linux because I'm a tech-head (and it's free). Using Windows is like wearing a straitjacket to start to learn how to knit.

But in the last 48 hours, things feel.. "different". I'm shifting from the point of view that Linux and OSS are merely toys for geeks, to one that actualyl believes we may be seeing the start of the end of MS as a monopoly. As Lloyd Grossman would say, let's look at the evidence...

1. This Reg article on Microsoft in China shows that a clash of global ideologies is still alive and well. The analogy to the Cold War is probably most apt and appreciated.

2. The other day, I switched my desktop to using Kubuntu - a KDE-equipped version of user-friendly distro Ubuntu. I finally got fed up of the somewhat-spurious performance of my Slackware install, and after half an hour, had a working desktop back up and running. So far, I'm glad to announce, everything I've wanted to do - using USB drives, viewing photos, burning CDs, re-formatting DVD-RWs,etc - has gone perfectly first time - I finally feel that I could quite happily give Linux to a newbie and they'd be impressed enough to keep using it.

The biggest factor that made me sit up, though, was upon demonstrating the software-installation process (browse library via Kynaptic/Synaptic, choose programs, install (download via ADSL), run) to her, my girlfriend said "Cool, why doesn't Windows do that?"

3. Using the same installation process as above, I installed 2.0 and gave it a quick try on some documents that 1.0 had stumbled a bit over. The new version feels a lot more compatible, initially. Alas, I'm not a power Office user (take note, Phil ;) so it's difficult for me to say how well the rest of the application/suite has improved. But my (limited) use of 1.0 nevertheless failed to inspire confidence in me. 2.0 restores that to a large extent.

This new rush of experience has given me hope, and joy. Obviously it's still early days, but I feel there's now a plausible x86 alternative to Windows more than ever.

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