Windows is (or Was) free.
Huh? what the hell are you talking about? I'll get to it in a bit.
Look Macs are cute but if you wanted the MAC OS then you had to buy a MAC PC (talk about monopoly) and MACs have been, despite all thier PR about being "A PC for the Rest of Us" the Cadillac of machines and was always way more expensive than a comparable PC and No Clones allowed to help spread the word. (That decision alone hampered them in the market place now they need IPODs and M$ ca$h to keep them afloat.)
That just didn't apply to retail purchase of the machines butthe whole infrastructure. Back in the Day when I was first getting started in the business I wanted to learn MACs (because they were so cool you know)and how to service and repair them and all that. However the only place to get that kind of Training was the Authorised Apple Training center in Cupertino(?) and it cost Thousands of Dollars + Plane fare and a Hotel. Heck I couldn't afford to buy the freaking computer let alone the training! (I was an orderly at a mental hospital, go ahead crack the jokes)
Then I saw that the local public Vo-Tech school had a "Basic Computer repair course" down the street and it only cost $90.00 for a nine week class! It mostly covered (75%) learning DOS, and then what the basics were of the hardware and where all the plugs go. Windows 3.1 was the last thing we learned. But that was enough to get me a job testing Floppy Drives at a CLONE PC* exporter in the warehouse district of Miami @ $7.00/hour. Not bad in 1992 for someone with no practical experience.
*(see the Clones effect? I'm telling you Apple really screwed the pooch on that one!)
What about Windoze being free? Thats easy two Words:
M$ never really put any signifcant copy protection on the OS or any of their products. This was emntioned already but I thought I would stress it. It was dead simple to copy off a bazillion copies and distro them on BBS' and to you friends. And since you could buy third party PC Parts cheap (you couldn't do that with apple/MAC) it was nothing to build a machine loaded WIndows and be done with it. Now you build a bunch of these and put these in peoples homes and thats what you became familiar with. Combine that with IBM in the early days being the No. 1 provider of PC's in the business world and you have this cycle Apple (or Commodore my fave) couldn't touch.
(Someone else commented on this in another post and called it INERTIA and he was dead right)
People wanted a system at home that was more familiar to them and like the one at work, and then later people at work wanted something that was familiar like they used @ home.
Now that Linux is out and getting easier for the average user (Sorry Peguinheads its STILL a Geek tool in the OS2 stages of friendliness but your getting there! Kepp it up!) and it is free, for the most part. I forsee a similar type of Cycle. Windows is putting copy protection (in the form of an "activation" policy.)and you really have to buy it if you want to get updates. Since harware is still ridiculously cheap (and MACS are still proprietary) and you can get many forms of Linux for free legally, you will see more and more Linux based machines @ home and then you will also see the same corporate dynamic cycle at work too (as more people use it @work they will want it @home and vice versa people are creature of habit ya know)
You can stop reading here because that really is my answer to the question however Below I digress into some of the obstacles Linux will face gaining the desktop)
There are a few flies in the ointment though:
1. So many Variants of Linux that the Home/Work dynamic isn't as strong. So many flavors which one is right for me? Sometimes too much of a good thing is not too good. If user gets confused by all the variants of Linux they will just bring their PC back to the shop, and have them load WIN XP or VISTA and be done with it. If their computer "guy" who set it up for them still tries to insist that it (Linux) is "Technically superior" and all that and the customer isn't happy they will find someone who will do what they want.
2. The Game/Entertainment Factor. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and parents who want their machines to do double duty will go with MS as the Choices are much larger. Sure Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament are available for Linux but Linux is in the same boat as MACs as far as games are concerned. Someday..maybe but not yet. (Note this may be offset by the Xbox/Playstation factor)
3. Linux still Geeky. This is the big one. Sorry guys I like Linux but most flavors are still too techy. Even "user freindly" versions rely on the command line to change the most basic settings. (Auto/full duplex 100mbit etc)**
YAST is good start and so are some of the other Desktops (KDC comes to mind but get get rid of all the "K" spelling stuff (Konqueror et al) its sooo cheesy. Now I'm sure a bunch of will reply well the X,Y,Z varients with R-D-U interface are easily downloadable and can be installed just by using RPM to check your dependancies and recompiling your Kernal and blah blah blah. Theres lots of options you are obviously too lazy to do your research.
Uh huh Right. Next!
4. Software, people use PC's to do stuff not just play with (We do we're different). Sure there's alot of Open Source stuff out there but most of it like Linux isn't ready for consumer Primetime. (apologies to Jaqui but its true Google up Project managment software for instance. Sure theres a couple of unstable Demos and Immendio but your own your own for support..)
If you can't install it by merely clicking on Install or Setup than you have lost. Same thing with having multiple versions of the program availble for Download on the same page. Huh? Which one do I use the one that says ver 18.104.22.168b (STABLE) or 22.214.171.124a (REF, why is there an UNSTABLE version is it crazy? Whats this Source Code? What no setup? What do you mean by compile it?
(I know these answers guys for those of you who don't get my point so don't answer back with some Diatribe with links and definitions it will only ehnance my point.)
** OK fair enough thats fairly in depth for your average home user probably not good example but for a Laptop user its can be critical. Many Hotels need it set to Auto or 10/half, While in the office due to Network infrasturcture or policy it needs to be set to 100/full or whatever) Being able to Change needs to be fairly easy and that usually means a GUI. Unless you write a script that runs with Root/Administrator Access or some other method you have to devise yourself.
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