Open Source

What is the Windows XP-Linux connection?

What will devoted XP users do when Microsoft ends its free support in April? One Linux guru considers the Windows "XP factor." What makes for an extremely popular OS, and how can Linux capture some of that magic?

I ran across two interesting posts this week, both that saw a possible link between Linux and Windows XP. First, ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is mining the consequences of Microsoft ending Mainstream Support of its very popular OS next month (Extended Support for the Professional edition is available through 2014). His post asks a question, "Does the end of free XP support help push you to Vista or 7 ... or Linux?"

Well, no matter what your plans for the future are, Microsoft is certainly in the early stages of pulling the plug on XP and if you're an XP user then it's time to at least start planning on your escape strategy.

Kingsley-Hughes includes a poll, asking readers if they plan to bite the bullet and upgrade or whether they will consider Mac OS X or Linux (the overwhelming poll winner so far is upgrading to Windows 7).

The other post is a longer consideration of what the "XP factor" is. What made it so popular? How did Windows slip up with Vista, and how can Linux come up with its own "XP factor?" Keir Thomas wrote this post, "Giving Linux That 'XP' Factor," and he is also the author of the popular freebie I've linked to previously, the Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference.

I have a solution for your XP woes. Unless you've been lobotomized, you might think you've guessed what it is: Linux. But you would be wrong. I don't generally recommend Linux. I recommend Ubuntu. You see, Ubuntu is a special version of Linux. Ubuntu is Linux for human beings. That's their tag line, in fact, and it needs some explanation.

Ah! Interesting. Thomas goes on to assert what he thinks the XP factor is and in his opinion, Ubuntu already has it: it's as functional as it needs to be; it's approachable for a wide audience of users; and it "just works."

What do you think of Thomas' argument? Do you agree that Ubuntu is a "special case" of Linux? I think he's pretty close to an idea that Jack Wallen has put forward before — about picking a distro to really market aggressively, make as user-friendly as possible, and have the big players in Linux settle on some standards in order to compete with Microsoft.

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Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

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