For most people their first experience with a computer is Windows. That's the operating system bundled with almost every desktop and laptop you can buy from retail outlets.
Consequently, any competing operating system is at a disadvantage from the beginning: unless a person seeks out Linux or is introduced to it in some way there will be no catalyst for change. Even if the computer operator grumbles about Vista's many foibles, they will lump it often not realising that a choice exists.
Here is where it becomes self-feeding. ASUS last year brought out their diminutive 7” Eee Linux PC. At the time this was not known as a netbook, because that moniker did not exist – until it had to be coined so it could be assigned to the faddish craze that this very same Eee brought to life.
Netbooks were spawned from vendors left, right and centre. These devices achieved popularity because they were cheap. They cost much less than a “regular” laptop. Linux was a natural choice as the software grunt powering the netbooks because it incurs exactly no cost in licensing and thus permits vendors to provide a fully-featured and modern operating system without it bumping up the price tag in any way whatsoever.
Yet, lo and behold, MSI reported last month that their Linux-based netbook offering was being returned four times as often as the comparable Windows XP equivalent, with Linux unfamiliarity being the root cause rather than any fault or flaw.
The problem here is that people saw the netbook and wanted it because it was relatively inexpensive. However, part of the force enabling this lower price is the adoption of Linux. It's not what people recognise, or understand, or are comfortable with – and they do not wish to learn it – and thus the devices are returned.
This tells us something about Linux. However, I believe it also tells us something about Windows too. Read on ...