2010 – the year of the ….. alternative?

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January 25, 2010 by openbytes

Ballmer is all ready for the fight on the numerous fronts Microsoft has. Im sure he'll do just fine. Please though before he goes on stage again, do you think someone could lend him some anti-perspirant?

Im quite sure there are Microsoft advocates waiting in the ether to pounce on a title such as “year of the Linux desktop”, you can see them yourself in action on any forum/newsgroup/irc channel where its dared to suggest that someone is looking elsewhere for a solution to their IT needs.   In many cases the comments will seek to cheapen the view of the person looking at alternatives, in many cases they will try to imply incorrect assumptions and in some cases they will be simply vulgar or insulting.

Lets look at the rather poor start to the year some have had and a growing trend of “alternative thinking” that whilst may not have Windows market share disappearing overnight, show something quite encouraging to freedom of choice in the IT world.

We’ve seen how diversity has been beneficial in the browser world and now we see Firefox, Safari, Chrome/Chromium et al battling each other whilst Internet Explorer continues to have negative press written about it.  This is just one example.

A poor start for Microsoft?

Theres been some rather poor press reported by some and I whilst the some reports written about at the time, I have the luxury of being able to look back at them now the dust is settled (a little).

We will start off with the IE exploit that was widely reported by many outlets coming into the new year.  Microsoft though in true fashion had this to say:

Customers should also upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 8, which provides improved security and privacy protections, as well as sign up for Microsoft Update and enable the Automatic Update functionality. This will enable automatic installation of all applicable updates this month and help to make customer systems more secure.

and in the midst of all the bad press still trying to convince you that upgrading their software is what you want to be doing (instead of looking elsewhere).  You have to admire the fact that Microsoft never give up and we only have to cast our minds back to last year and remember instead of the proverbial carrot on stick being your security, then it was offering to feed the hungry for every download.

France & Germany are reported to have other ideas, whilst Netapps is reporting a decline in IE usage, France & Germany are reported to be issuing their own warnings about IE and it doesn’t make good reading for Microsoft.  The BBC said:

France has echoed calls by the German government for web users to find an alternative to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) to protect security.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8465038.stm

Moving on to Tivo now and our friendly Microsoft is wielding its patent power again, filing a suit against them stating an infringement of (in a nutshell) video delivery and purchasing patents.

Zune the trusty old Microsoft iPod challenger? Failed again (according to reports) of doing anything other than pushing more iPod touches.  Which are reported in the Apple section.

So whats Microsoft touting this year? Natal, thats what.  Before you ask, its not some pregnancy testing kit for use with the Xbox 360 and we covered this “tech” in more detail here. Family planning aside, proof maybe that Microsoft has finally realised that the WII and its original gaming are actually rather popular?

Of course all the other colourful Microsoft characters will be out in force this year, we can look forward to more “great” news from Microsoft about Bing, of course everyone will be raving about the Zune, your Xbox 360 will be cheered as its wheeled into the maternity suite with Natal.  The Microsoft PR machine, you’ve got to love it.  Lets not forget about the Windows advocates…. Linux is still only at 1% you know! ;)

So what good news is coming out of Redmond? ;) Well, er…. Bill Gates has a Twitter account (and he’s not afraid to use it) you can read such rivetting posts as:

“Hello World.” Hard at work on my foundation letter – publishing on 1/25.

and I don’t know about anyone else but I’m glued to my seat with excitement for more tweets by him! ;) .  You can see this comment (and others) at his Twitter account here.

Great news for Sony?

Sony has made some announcements in January regarding sales of its console.  The PS3 has shifted around 3.8 million units and is closing the gap on the head start that Microsoft had with the 360.  Should Sony be pleased?  I should think so, the figure in my view will set to increase as more people are getting interested in Blu-ray and want to “kill two birds with one stone” and get a games console too in one package.

You can read more about that here.

Apple to report profits and non-MS mobiles boom?

It is reported that the itouch was among the must have items this past Xmas and also mobiles with an OS other than a Microsoft one are reported to be booming.  It is reported that Droid app downloads increased to 93% on Xmas day over previous fridays in the month.  Of course Apple downloads are reported to have beaten them all, so is it another reason to celebrate?  You can read more on this here.

Apple are also reported to be expecting good profits when their figures are released shortly, with the business journal saying:

…earnings to be $2.06 per share for the quarter, up from $1.78 per share in 2008, driven by strong growth in iPhone and Mac computer sales. Revenue is expected to jump 18 percent to $12.05 billion.

You can read more on that report here.

Conclusions

A comment said by myself many times last year was that Microsoft is fighting a war on too many fronts and not only failing to conquer those but at the same time loosing its grip on its traditional products which are being challenged by alternatives. Alternatives that have been quietly improving their products while Microsoft tries to take on the planet.  We see this with IE.  We see the moving away from Windows (whatever figure you want to put on it) and other traditional MS products.

So 2010 will be the year of the alternative?  I think its now the mainstream user is realizing that which so many people have already found out, it doesn’t need to be Microsoft.  It matters not if you are an Apple user, Linux, BSD or anything else, a more diverse IT world will be better for the end-user as everyone ups their game to compete for your custom/usage.

I wonder though if Microsoft will, instead of challenging with great software, dig into its patent portfolio and challenge with that instead.  Its often thought by many that the Microsoft ethos of “do it our way or not at all” is one of the dangers that Microsoft poses to alternatives, be it Linux, be it in the form Mono or anything else.  Remember the mentality we are dealing with here:

And of course we Bing we Bing we Bing we Bing Bing Bing all the time, at least in my world

and thats reportedly from the CEO Steve Ballmer.  You can read that article here.

What will 2010 hold?  I can’t wait to find out!

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the Openbytes statement, here.

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22 thoughts on “2010 – the year of the ….. alternative?

  1. chew says:

    Apple has reported it`s higher revenue in history..

    http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/25/apple-reports-record-3-38-billion-profit-for-q1-2010-on-highest-revenue-in-history/

    Just more proof that all roads do not lead to Redmond, there are an awful lot of people out there willing to use non MS products, and that numbers grows daily.

  2. Will says:

    Careful there, Goblin. You’re speaking blasphemy against the Church of Microsoft. And according to this wise pundit, without Microsoft’s steady, benevolent hand maintaining order over the chaos, our entire civilization would spin violently out of control and rip itself apart.

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9147878/Life_after_Windows_What_happens_to_tech_if_Microsoft_dies

    Sorry to link to that drivel, but maybe it will at least give you a small chuckle. It’s the closest thing I’ve yet seen to “he who cannot be named”‘s ranting posts.

    • openbytes says:

      Hi!

      Lol. Its funny you should mention that, on the other thread there is one squirming at the possibility of Photoshop (the most cited reason for sticking with Windows) coming to Linux. Of course that would be a horrendous situation, having a package which many people use being offered on a free Operating System.

      I read that article and for me whilst it did have a rather shilly smell to it, it does demonstrate that a more diverse IT world is whats needed. It is correct in that disorder would ensue in MS disapeared, but then that would be true of many “big players” I think what it highlights is the need for the OS market to be split more evenly. We have seen what happens when MS has the “ball” and seen first hand what such dominance in the market place can do to the end user.

      Times are a changing, I really do think the way of the future will be multiple solutions adhering to a standard, I dont see this as an impossible future. The problem as I see it is that Microsoft wants to hold old the cards and play the game by themselves.

  3. chew says:

    @Will

    HA HA I love speculative fiction involving alternate timelines!
    Are you sure Larry Niven or Jerry Pournelle did`nt write that?

  4. Londo Molari said it better:

    Only a fool fights a war on two fronts, and only the king of fools fights a war on multiple fronts.

  5. openbytes says:

    Lets not though forget he nearly got his homeworld destroyed by the Vorlons…..

    Maybe he’s not the best example? ;)

    Regards,
    Goblin.

    - Yes Im a Babylon 5 nut too!

  6. Chips B Malroy says:

    The year of Desktop Linux. What year is that? Most people think its the year that Linux captures 50% of the desktop market, but is it really? GNU/Linux started with nothing, and MS was already well established and entrenched as a monopoly then. So every year, GNU/Linux has made gains, and by that standard, one could say that every year has been the year of Desktop Linux.

    I don’t see MS Windows going away quickly, unless a couple scenarios were to happen. The first scenario would be a massive malware attack similar to the blaster worm, that would start users changing, maybe. I am not advocating anything like this happening, only saying it can happen again as MS have not done a great job protecting OEM off the shelf computers. The second scenario is Google Chrome OS on ARM cpu’s. It takes cheap hardware, plus the money of Google in order to penetrate the OEM lockin that M$ has in mature markets like the USA. There’s a lot of “ifs” in this scenario, if ARM is cheap and appealing, if Google Chrome OS is good, and if Google is willing to spend the bucks to make sure it is offered as an alternative to Windows CE in mature markets. Google ARMed (pun intended) with Linux, could be the snowball that starts moving.

    Of course, the slow route of word of mouth, by satisfied GNU/Linux users, has worked to a degree so far, as Linux continues to grow, and make gains on the market share.

  7. Now this gets fun, because it’s all anecdotal, but:

    1) OSX market share in Canada is probably above 10%
    2) Linux market share in Canada is probably above 3%
    3) XP market share in Canada is probably above 60%

    Now I’m talking Desktop OS market share. As I said, this is anecdotal. It’s based on the computers and operating systems that I see at the library. It’s based on the computers and operating systems that people I know are using.

    So it’s unscientific as hell. But OSX market share is skyrocketing. I know a lot of people who’ve switched especially to OSX, and the bad thing from Microsoft’s point of view, is that if you make the switch successfully, you’ll never come back.

    Linux market share is still growing, though a lot slower, mostly because it’s damned hard to find computers with Linux pre-installed. However that may change. We had the IPod halo effect helping Mac sales, and I think we’ll see the Android halo effect helping Linux sales, as more Android phones make it to market.

    And of course there’s XP. A lot of corporate clients want nothing to do with Vista or Seven, and are wiping their new systems and installing XP. Most of them are sticking with Office 2003 or Office XP, because there just isn’t any reason to upgrade. Since a lot of companies aren’t hiring at present, they don’t need to buy extra licenses, which was the main reason to upgrade in the past (to keep everyone using the same version of Office).

    And of course the elephant in the room is Firefox. If you install Firefox to avoid Internet Exploder issues, you are more likely to look at Open Office. If you look at Open Office you are more likely to look at the Gimp, and so on.

    Microsoft is in deep trouble. Unless they can get legislative help. And I suspect that they are working on this.

  8. chew says:

    @Mad Hatter
    Speaking as a Canadian I can personally attest to OSX surging market share (in Toronto at least) heck, I`ve been a full time Unix/Linux admin with tons of work available to me since 2000.
    I use both Linux (Sabayon and Mint 8 now on an older machine) at home but I really like my Macbook pro, and beyond what most people think a Mac is good for (video/audio or something artistic) I bought one to use exclusive to manage POSIX based servers (can`t argue with seven shells built into the terminal app) as well it looks damn cool and works well, and it has a good warrantee for a POSIX based machine, something thats kind of hard to easily find at this point in time. But back to Linux, I can personally confirm LOADS of small business using Linux in the server and desktop environment with no great complications breaking away from MS (and I`ve helped a few too!) to be forthcoming a week does`nt go by without someone asking me is there any way I can have a computer that works, lets me get by with my daily duties without paying an arm and a leg for licensing fees for useless OS upgrades from MS … I think you know my answer.

    • Ah, you’re one of those southerners (I live on Bayview about 10 miles north of Steeles).

      One way you can tell OSX market share is booming, is that we now have five Apple stores, in an area with five million population. And they are always crowded. Always.

      I run OSX because I have a recording studio in my basement, and yes, the best recording tools are for OSX (the ones for Windows suck). I also run Linux, and I’m looking at putting in a Open Solaris server just for fun. Well, I need another server anyways (we have five adults in the house) and I thought that Open Solaris would be fun to play with.

      As to small business using Linux – the smart ones are. But I know of a bunch that aren’t, in some cases because the ‘IT Expert’ has no Linux/BSD/Solaris skills, in other cases because management thinks that Microsoft is the most successful company on the planet, and therefore their software is the best. Seriously. I know of a couple of business owners who think that Bill Gates is some bloody genius, and it’s not worth my time arguing with them. If they die, because they can’t compete due to higher IT costs, well, think of it as evolution in action.

      • chew says:

        @ Hatter
        LOL I`m in Etobicoke actually (Islington + Bloor), but always nice meeting a fellow Canuck in the wilds of the interweb.

        Don`t have too much hands on with Open Solaris, but you may want to have a look at CentOS or ClearOS (Clear is Canadian too formerly Clark Connect, Cent is basically community supported Red Hat)

      • Clear OS? OK, I’ll give it a try. The description sounds like what I’m looking for (among other things I want to set up a Calender server).

  9. [...] of our readers wrote a whole post about this over at OpenBytes. The last sentence quoted is probably most relevant as it addresses patents as a last resort. [...]

  10. chew says:

    Sorry to hijack your thread Goblin, but just out of curiosity are you still working on that Win7 revue? I`d love to compare notes.
    On another note, I`m curious to see how this tablet that Apple`s been cooking up (allegedly a couple a versions over the years until this iteration came out) turns out.

    • openbytes says:

      Yeah and if I wasn’t under the weather I would be starting to publish it today. :(

      I have 3 rigs on my desk. Windows 7, Ubuntu 9.10 and my main rig of Wolvix…I think I have given Windows 7 a fair crack of the whip and I can’t wait to see what the Openbytes detractors make of the review.

      • chew says:

        I was dual booting for a while until the inevitable happened… Win 7 caught a virus, hurray!, so burned the partition and it`s now a sole Sabayon 5 machine (it would be such a shame to waste an AMD quad on 7) waaay faster than 7 and orders of magnitude more eye candy (gots to have my eye-candy on a high end rig)
        Anyhow, can`t wait to compare notes regarding 7

        cheers

  11. wallclimber says:

    It’s been interesting to see the changes occurring over the last decade. Even five years ago I knew no one (meaning friends and family) using alternative systems. These days the Windows users I know are in the minority. Mine is but a tiny corner of the Universe, of course, but still it’s quite a change.

    One point that’s rarely addressed whenever Windows and Linux percentages are mentioned is that, while Windows (of whatever version) may still be on a majority of computers, it is no longer alone on all those machines. Dual-booting or Virtualization is now quite commonplace now.

    It’s also fun to see how amazed people are when they first learn about Live CDs, especially when they see someone rescue files off of a skunked Windows drive using Knoppix (or whatever Live distro). I believe that Live CDs were a serious game-changer. It’s something that simply cannot ever be done with Windows.

    The truth is, Linux is like water, has quietly, steadily been seeping through all the cracks in Microsoft’s wall. Microsoft, in their arrogance did not pay attention. By the time they began to hear the roar of the flood, it was too late to stop it. Now, all they can do is founder…(glug, glug, glug)

    (To use one of Goblin’s favorite phrases)”In My Opinion” the world would be just fine if Microsoft bellied-up overnight. Sure, there’d be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth by the anti-virus bunch, most certainly, but who really would miss them? Bill would sulk, SteveB would probably stomp around and sweat a lot, but who would care? There are too many excellent software alternatives, systems and applications, as well as plenty of talented people willing and able to fill the void.

    The growth in technology will be explosive, once the Microsoft wall comes tumbling down. The world will take a deep breath of fresh air, and move on.

    Sorry for the long comment. Didn’t mean to write so much, old people just tend to ramble sometimes.
    : )

    (btw, Looking forward to your Windows 7 review.)

  12. Alot of bloggers aren’t very pleased with the new iPad.There was 2 much hoopla over it and alot people got turned off.You see, I for one see lots of the cool potential uses of this device. Third-party apps for making music, games, newspapers and magazine and books, all sorts of cool stuff, but they failed to sell it right (excluding the books). It smells rather unfinished

    • Ah, but there is a killer application for it, and it isn’t one that Steve Jobs had in mind either. Sheet Music reader for musicians. A friend of ours posted about this late yesterday.

      http://www.inkygirl.com/why-im-excited-about-the-apple-ipad/

      Sure, it’s not a mainstream use, but as a musician, who has binders full of sheet music, this could be a major boon.

      • chew says:

        I see potential too, what`s so bad about having an instant on, powerful computer with 10hr (hoping its true) battery life? Wireless N is a definite bonus along with an IPS display. Usage? I could go from shop to shop use VNC for an entire work day. I tried this with netbook, not fun. As with any platform apps will decide it`s fate. Like it or hate it the iphone ecosystem has an awful lot of developers behind it, now they`ve been given a more powerful CPU/GPU and more screen space, I`m sure there are a bunch of devs grinning ear to ear to hear that alone. As for performance? This video compares a reference design running at 500mhz vs the intel atom at 1.6ghz..

        http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/05/arm-cortex-a9-performance-demo-likely-chip-to-power-islate-and-future-iphones/

        …. then there`s the jailbreak community…hmmm

  13. [...] users have been driven to use alternative operating systems such as Gnu-Linux out of sheer frustration. In fact I was one of those who dumped Windows due to [...]

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About.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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