2008-08-08: 3% Of UK PCs Sold With Linux
LINUX HAS MADE headway in Microsoft's UK heartland, the PC sales channel. The number of machines shipped with Linux preloaded on them has multiplied a whopping 28 times since Microsoft launched its Vista operating system in January 2007
The Linux share of this route to market has edged up ever since the Vista launch. Then it broke the two per cent barrier in May after the latest release of Ubuntu, the strain of Linux most capable of kicking Microsoft in the shins.
While it will be years before we can really see it, Microsoft is in decline, and Windows Vista is the proximate cause. While Vista retains a huge fraction of the market sales-wise, end-users have rejected it, and continue to do so. They reject it for its annoying and intrusive so-called security features, such as User Account Control (UAC), and will reject it even more once they move to high-definition video and find that Vista has technological usage restrictions (TUR, often misnamed as digital rights management/DRM) deeply embedded into the OS, such that simple things like copying your own home videos will be blocked because it cannot verify that a corporate distributor grants you the right to copy them.
Further, MSFT miscalculated just how much governments meant it when they said they wanted open standard file formats for their documents--they came up with MS Office 2007 with horrifying interface and file format changes in response--and just how large of a backlash they would feel for resisting the already-standardized OpenDocument Format (ODF). Microsoft has announced that it will integrate ODF functionality in a patch to be delivered next year, while they will still not fully support their own standard, OOXML (Office Open XML). This means that the greatest portion of MSFT's publicity among technically-savvy people and both open technology & open government activists has been negative for the past two years.
One of the great benefits, I think, will be that software companies will have to make their products a lot better at cross-platform functionality. Device-makers, too, will adapt or die. Platform lock-in will almost die. (I'd expect surviving proprietary companies to try to keep it, but it may be the thing that finally kills their businesses the way that planned obsolescence put the Detroit automakers on the slide to nowhere.)