Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight.Today, I recalled this quotation as I noted a few things going on in my daily trip around the tubes:
Your life will only last until it reaches you.
- Dell will be offering an option to preinstall Ubuntu on its PCs.
"Linux-based PCs was an "overwhelming" request" ... "We heard loud and clear from customers that they wanted this," Cook said. And of those who wanted Linux, "80 percent came back and said Ubuntu," Cook said.
- While Microsoft is putting a substantial marketing push behind Silverlight, even mainstream press are asking: what about Linux? Of course, developer after developer are immediately asking the same thing.
"Linux lets us say to the customer, 'This thing is ubiquitous,'" ... "Otherwise, we have to build a version of the Web site for Linux, which is expensive."
- The Twisted website's traffic from Linux has broken 20%. (non-Windows traffic, including MacOS, is at 36%). The interesting thing about this is not the number - I realize that we are on the cutting edge of technology and so on - but the trend. People are migrating away from Windows. Nobody is going back.
Microsoft's real problem is the much simpler business problem that their flagship product is clearly inferior its lower cost alternatives. It doesn't help them much that the "lower" cost is, in many cases, zero, but that's beside the point. I have made, and will make again, arguments about freedom and scaling cost and a number of other social issues surrounding code in general and operating systems especially, but all that is going to end up being peripheral. I'm pretty sure that I'd continue to use the Ubuntu-derived operating systems for my own computers even if they somehow cost more than the Microsoft equivalents.
Of course, we've all heard this kind of thing before from the archetypical linux snobs on slashdot and other forums, people who seem incapable of recognizing that any value can be created by people who disagree with them. Personally, I have purchased a Windows license - not just a computer which happened to have it included - as recently as last month. (Although I must admit that my sense of practical compromise goes only so far.)
I can certainly understand some skepticism that Microsoft will topple and Linux will be ubiquitous in the home and office any time soon. Certainly that is not going to happen soon (for sufficiently software-industry-ish definitions of "soon" — which means they could be out of business but for cash in the bank within a year). With Windows marketshare hovering somewhere between 80 and 95 percent, depending on who you believe, Canonical has a long way to go to fix bug 1.
On the other hand, one could make the case that it's happened already. In the office? Dozens of large companies, Red Hat foremost among them, make a comfortable living on corporate Linux deployments. Sure, in most cases it's not on anyone's desktop, but it is making inroads.
In the home? There are already 1 million PS3s in the US, and the current generation console market is staying rather cool - if it heats up to the levels of the previous one, the numbers could be more like 50 million. Even when it's running games, the PS3 is a linux box, and to some people, it is in a much more literal sense.
Mark Shuttleworth himself says that there are about 8 million Ubuntu users alone. That's not just a measurement error.
As with the Twisted site, however, the interesting thing here is not the number, but the trend. Of course pundits and the mainstream press are going to look at the numbers they can see and not even consider the possibility that Windows could be dislodged. By the time the idea seems reasonable and possible, though, the adoption curves will be in the process of going exponential as the new network effects combine with the advantages of the platform that already, now, have people migrating away from the current network effects.
If you're watching the arc of an arrow in flight it's quite fast. Hard to predict, and often effectively invisible thanks to its motion. By the time it's stopped moving and is easy for everyone to see, it's already arrived.