On American paper money, you will find the phrase “In God We Trust.” Even though it is Constitutionally not a requirement to believe that phrase literally, it goes to show you that there are very few things that Americans hold above the all mighty dollar. Therefore, the things that make us part with our wealth had better be worth it.
My belief in software freedom is not about how much I am willing to pay for it. I am not alone. Ken Starks recently blogged about how Linux users are more willing to pay for software than their Windows user counterparts.
I am considering buying Windows 7 for the purpose of research for this blog. In my “what should I use” post I discussed the fact that I now have a PC with Microsoft Vista. Since then, I approved the EULA. Not because I agree with it but because I wanted to try Vista for myself.
So far, it has been slow going.
In fairness, the software that I have become accustomed to, such as virtual desktops, do not come by default with that operating system. Even if I shell out hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Windows 7, which is supposedly great, I will need to spend days of my time hunting down the applications and installing them to fit the way I have wired my brain over the past 10 years of being a Linux on the desktop user.
Change is painful, even for an ubergeek like me. I too need to accept that those accustomed to Microsoft Windows will have similar conversion troubles and emotions. Does a reluctance to try something new equal trust in status quo? I think not.
Which leads me to my next point, how did I get to from a Microsoft user to a Linux user? When I had my first computer at home, I loved Microsoft and its products. Microsoft earned my trust by providing me something that no other desktop operating system could in 1992, a command line: MSDOS. There was only one other serious desktop operating system back then, and it was a graphical-only pre-UNIX/Darwin MacOS. I loved MSDOS to the point that if UNIX-based operating systems like Linux, BSD, MacOSX, or Solaris did not exist, I would still be using MSDOS. Why? The command line was very straight forward. It did not hide the details of what exactly was running on your PC with distractions such as screen savers, icons, cascading windows, etc. Instead it told the truth about what your PC was doing. You know what, it took seconds to boot. When it was time to close up for the night, you exited the ONE application you were running and then hit the power button. I felt respected as a user compared to the get-a-cup-of-coffee boot times that my MAC user friends experienced in that era. Who could forget the acronym: Most Applications Crash If Not Then Operating System Hangs.
Microsoft meant stability pre-Windows 95. Imagine no blue screens of death. No patch Tuesday. No digital rights management. No need to prove your product that you bought was authentic. Instead, when you bought software you bought a product that took your money and kept out of your business.
Windows 95 was the first time I felt like Microsoft betrayed me. It introduced the blue screen of death. For the first time, the graphical interface was the operating system, not a layer on top of it. Some may call this innovation, but I to this day see this is a dishonest trick to hide from the users what is really going on. None the less, people liked it. I even used it, supported it, and installed it oodles of times. To some, it had a Hollywood level of fun to PC computing. Bill Gates paid the licensing for the Rolling Stones tune “Start Me Up” and people were hooked.
While I see the start menu as a technical step back, it was great marketing. It was also an obvious copy of what MACOS was doing at the time. Today, any desktop operating system will have some form of application launcher. This includes Linux.
The start menu was part of the Microsoft brand until Vista in which it phased in a Windows circle which added to the list of many frustrations that Windows 9x/XP users had with the Vista operating system.
While I have not tried Windows 7, I have seen many folks in the Linux community jokingly point out that it looks like the popular Linux environment, KDE4.
The loss of the start menu branding consistency paired with the “innovation” of the Microsoft Office ribbon confuses users. This leads to distrust of Microsoft from the user base.
I believe Microsoft distrust will cause users to do one of the following:
- Apple agrees that this moment Windows users who have lostMicrosoft trust may switch to their products. So much so, they have a wholemarketing campaign.
- Those who mistrust both Microsoft and Apple with their money will look to Linux systems as desktops. USAToday thinks so too. As of today, my mother uses Ubuntu and Xandros. Other babyboomers are likely to follow as they network with people like my mother and see they can do everything they want to do without Windows.Non-MacOSX BSD-based desktops will continue to be a novelty among geeks and will see next to no growth.
Before I close, I leave you with this thought. Please do comment…
Do you trust Microsoft with your money so much that you would willfully use Windows as an Automatic Teller Machine?
Microsoft will lack majority market share June 30, 2011.