When Microsoft released a late alpha, but generally stable version of the Windows 8 Developer Preview the other week a great many people, including myself, were greatly surprised. This is because it goes against everything Windows chief Steven Sinofsky generally believes. But it was very clear why Microsoft had made this decision.
They know full well that any modern platform will live or die on the number and quality of the apps available for it and, in order to gain any kind of critical mass on tablets and other mobile devices when it ships next year, Windows 8 will need a good number (we're talking thousands) of good quality apps in a wide variety of categories sitting ready in the new Windows Store.
This, according to Linux Gnome co-creator Miguel de Lcaza is why Linux is doing so badly on the desktop. In an interview given to Tim Anderson's IT writing blog...
When you count how many great desktop apps there are on Linux, you can probably name 10. You work really hard, you can probably name 20. We’ve managed to piss off developers every step of the way, breaking APIs all the time.
He also cites the confusion caused by so many completely different distributions of Linux on the desktop as a reason for the platform's failure to take off in any meaningful way.
To be honest, with Linux on the desktop, the benefits of open source have really played against Linux on the desktop in that we keep breaking things. It is not only incompatibilities between Red Hat, Unbuntu, Suse, but even between the same distribution. Ubuntu from this week is incompatible with the one nine months ago. And then there are multiple editions, the KDE version, the Gnome edition, the one that is the new launching system.
It's unusual that only a few short years ago we were all saying that what set one operating system apart from others were factors including ease of use, power and flexibility. Then along came the iPhone and almost everything changed to the quality and availability of apps, so much so that this has even now become Microsoft's new focus; this is despite the fact that nobody would ever criticise the Windows desktop platform for ever being short of software.
He was also asked about Windows 8 and said...
They are Microsoft, it’s going to succeed. In three years they are going to have this thing on half a billion computers, so it will be out there. I have to say, I actually like Windows 8. I am not a Windows user. It’s probably the first time that I would use a Windows machine.
This may be somewhat optimistic as first Microsoft will need to placate business and IT pro users who like the flexibility and power of full desktop apps. There can be no doubt that he is a man who knows what he's talking about though. He still is critical about Windows though where it's deserved.
Right, and it is needed, they definitely need to fix this mess, a lot of malware, spyware, and the fact that everybody is sysadmin, and has to reinstall their machine every so often.
In the defence of GNU/Linux (which isn't something I'm often accused of doing) it has a lot going for it with modern distributions, I even have a full chapter devoted to it in my book Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out and will probably do the same for the Windows 8 edition next year.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.