Previous Page
PCLinuxOS Magazine
Article List
Next Page

Welcome From The Chief Editor

This month, let's talk about how Linux is making the Redmond crowd sweat.

First of all, that EVIL empire Microsoft just announced a few days ago that it was slashing the prices of Windows 8.1. Woohoo! Like anyone really cares? I doubt few Tuxinistas -- if any at all -- really care, or will run right out and pick up their own personal copy. Plus, if any are inclined to run out and pick up a copy, I'm not so sure that the price cut includes retail copies. As far as I have read, Microsoft is cutting the price it charges hardware manufacturers from $50 per copy, to $15 per copy. I've seen no mention about price cuts in the retail price that any regular user would pay through normal retail channels.

It certainly does bring up some interesting conjecture. The price cut is reported to be Microsoft's way of combatting the increased competition from low-end tablets and notebooks, notably Google Chromebooks. Only two months into the new year, Google's Chrome OS is being touted as the possible breakthrough to mainstream computing for Linux this year.

I'm sure no Linux user is surprised that Chrome -- which is Linux based -- offers users an easy and trouble-free computing solution that meets the needs of the vast majority of computer users. Most computer users don't have a need or demand for high power computing. Rather, most of their use is centered around sending email, browsing the web, some light word processing and spreadsheet work, and playing their Facebook games. Every one of those activities can be performed on a web-centric OS, like Chrome. If you're not very familiar with the Chrome OS, this review will help get you up to speed. You can get a taste for it by pretending that the Chrome browser is the only thing installed on your system, and trying to do all of your work within that copy of Chrome browser. You can also download and run the open source version, Chromium OS, from here.

Some Chromebooks don't even offer a local hard drive to save work to. Instead, Chrome steers users towards using cloud-based solutions, such as Google Docs and Google Drive, to store their documents. For most users, this is not only sufficient, but it also allows Chrome users to access those documents and files from their Chromebook, tablet and smart phones as needed and at will. Most users don't give two thoughts about the security of their data (much less allowing Google to have access to all of it), and will see the cross platform access of that data as a huge plus.

For Microsoft to announce such a HUGE price cut must mean that they are feeling the pressure from the climbing success and adoption of Chromebooks. With new computing platforms, such as tablets, grabbing a larger and larger percentage of the computing market, the PC market is shrinking. Since Microsoft lacks a viable or popular mobile computing platform, Microsoft is seeing itself become less and less relevant in the computing world. Markets and paradigms shift, and Microsoft is looking like it'll be the central victim in that shift.

It's a shame that the price cut is only on Windows 8.1. It would be a mega-major story if users could get a reduced price on something like Windows 7. But nooooo … that's not the case. Instead, I also see this as an effort by Microsoft to cut their losses on a widely unpopular version of Windows. I can hardly read an article or forum thread about Windows 8 without seeing mention of users who are holding out, awaiting the arrival of Windows 9. Windows users simply aren't migrating to Windows 8.

Many other users have stated a desire for Microsoft to release free copies of older versions of Windows, after they've reached end-of-life. This wish has been expressed for years. While doing so would prevent a LOT of computers from filling up landfills, it would also hurt Microsoft's bottom line. People would just keep their existing computers running, hook or crook, for as long as it continued to do what they needed their computer to do. Microsoft has come to rely on users having to buy new hardware to run the latest version of Windows, or purchasing a new computer with Windows already pre-installed.

Which brings us to the other interesting tidbit of recent information. Recently, Tech Pro Research recently conducted a poll to see what Windows XP users plan to do once that enormously popular Windows OS reaches end of life status in April. With XP still in use on roughly one third of the computers out there, according to analytics firm Net Applications, 11% of those users are planning on switching to Linux. To keep that in perspective, the survey also showed that 37% planned on continuing to use XP past its end-of-life expiration date, 38% planned to switch to Windows 7, and only eight percent planned to migrate to Windows 8.

While 11% doesn't sound like a lot, that number is quite huge when you consider that Windows XP is still one of the most popular operating systems in use. If all those users who say they plan to switch to Linux actually do switch, that will represent an enormous influx of new Linux users. As a result, Linux will become more than just a blip on the OS radar. It will be a force to be reckoned with, and a market that vendors will no longer be able to ignore. Even if only half of those make the switch, we're still talking about a bunch of new Linux users.

Indeed, 2014 really could be the often hoped for "Year of the Linux Desktop." Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity and prosperity.

Previous Page              Top              Next Page