Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most. - (Mark Twain and me)

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Windows vs. Linux

I hate to talk about it again. But neverthless my friend brought it up again. It is one of those topics which will come up over and over again and end without any conclusion - just like the "veg vs. non-veg" topic. The question is why isn't Linux as popular as Windows inspite of being free. A popular mis-belief is it isn't user-friendly. I dont think this is true anymore. Comm'on haven't you tried Ubuntu.? It is actually more "friendlier" than Windows. Not only Ubuntu, most of the Linux distros have realised thier drawback of being less friendly and have abstracted most of the things and now have the "just click and install" etc features.
Ofcourse one of the accepted fact is people may find Linux less easy to use than Windows because it lacks support(but think of it - when was the last time you ever called a support for a computer problem even if you are a grandma? people try to figure out things themselves or ask friends). Or people are just resistant to change? Another fact is that some tweaking has to be done after Linux installation. For example many websites dont even still work on Linux. You need to install special plugins for players etc. This is a 2-way problem. These websites don't support Linux because it is not common. And since many websites need special plugins to be installed, Linux is not common.
But as I see it, this is the big reason.
Computer manufacturers pushing Windows: A good laptop would cost around 1000$ which includes the hidden cost of 200$ for Windows XP Pro. So why can't the manufacturers sell me the laptop for 800$ without Windows? Sure-most ppl wont go for that manufacturer if they just stop giving windows. Can't they provide an option while buying (default : have windows)? For the manufacturer, it is inc. in thier sales, because giving this option could save about 200$ for the 2%(linux market share=2%) population and another effect that could emerge out of this is because it is less priced so ppl would slowly switch to Linux. Now this is not the case bcos since they have Windows anyway, whats the need to go for Linux? But why are manufacturers not doing this given the fact that it would clearly increase thier sales? One likely reason is they could be bounded by some legal agreement with MS. Or doing this may piss off MS and they start charging the manufacturers more for license. If giving the option increases thier revenue by 5%, but also increases the licensing fee for Windows(Manufacturers obviously get very much subsidised fee than individual quote) - the profit margin maynot workout? Who knows. Im sure the manufacturers like Dell, HP etc would have considered this and dropped for some reason - most probably thier revenue maynot increase eventhough the sales may increase.
So what is the solution for this? I mean how to make a manufacturer and consumer happy? As a consumer if Im not interested in Windows anyway, don't charge me that 200$! I think the move has to come only from manufacturer side. But it is not clear how the manufacturer will make this. A new manufacturer could emerge, but again it will take it a while for it to get established and get recognized/trusted.


Well... If u'd ask me, I think that is because of the comfort everyone has with windows. Come on! If u've been using windows from childhood and suddenly see linux, unless u try to learn the new OS and use it (be it click and install or typing commands - that doesn't matter) consciously, u would stick to the old one. Remember? The people who used DOS before Windows came did not make it a success, it was the new ones who were trying to learn. Since they had a fresh mind and an equal ground to cover for both Windows and DOS, they chose Windows. Those who worked in DOS still prefer that to others( just that they are becoming a rarity in present days). Ok, it boils down to people resisting change. Now, why is it that people talk so much of switching to Linux? I don't get it. Not that I hate Linux or something, it is just that I don't understand why there is so much opposition to Windows? Care to clarify me?
too lengthy da machi, will come back and read it later...
sure :)
i guess the main reason for the post is to try to find out why Linux isnt popular and not comparing Windows and Linux directly or why people should move to Linux.I totally agree with the reason for unpopularity is resistance to change and "its not easy". I just wanted to see another possible reason as since computers already come packaged with Windows, why should people change. Maybe if there was an option to have desktops packaged with Linux, it would have been popular because it is cheap. But if it happens,practically I think ppl will buy with Linux(cheap) and install Windows(pirated) on top :-)

"Now, why is it that people talk so much of switching to Linux?". Good question.
I think money. Since you are now in India you might be underestimating this ;) I guess in India there is no need to think about this, unless you need things in Linux which are not in Windows (mainly for developers?)
I cannot get MS Office unless Im willing to pay watever it costs(~200$?). Is it worth the money when I can get OpenOffice for free? For me not, but maybe for most ppl yes. Yes, if ppl dont want to spend thier valuable time in getting used to Linux, instead they wud rather spend few hundred bucks and never worry abt anything - thats, fine - thats the way it shud be . Afterall, computer is only used to help them with thier tasks :D
So the question is "if 2 things X and Y, but X costs me money and Y is free. But Im used to using X and have to learn Y. so is it worth my effort?"
There is really no answer to this.Its very subjective and depends on the user.
To put it shorter,
popularity(X) = f(ease(X),cost(X) ,features(X), same_things_for(Y));

The fact that Windows is more popular clearly shows that ease and features exceeds cost. But again ease and features are mainly based on perception(esp ease).people have percieved Linux as not
user friendly and this perception is not very much true anymore(i do agree its still true but ppl have exaggerated it). Those days where you should "specify the path of glibc to continue with installation" is gone.
Automatic upgrades, similar to control panel. Pretty much anything can be installed with "click effect". But why should they re-think thier perception? Maybe its not required. But maybe
it could save them some money.
I dont hate MS or Windows, but I do hate the effect its monopoly has created on manufacturers.
Echoing from my blog, "As a consumer if Im not interested in Windows anyway, don't charge me that 200$!".
Again this is not true in India. When I got a PC, the guy told me, Windows is free and it would cost me the same whether I had any OS or not :)

Again, these are only my opinion, so I can be wrong. Feel free to disagree (infact, thats better :) )
I will try to kep my post short. Sorry :(
Comments too :)
Wow! I get it now... I didn't know that piracy had such an effect in India.Am I to say that I'm rite now glad to be in India or that I would have to come der and support anti-piracy? :) But, one thing is sure! I'd prefer learning(and debugging and...) linux to having to shell out the money keeping in mind my future financial status(atleast for two years) ;) I'd better start learning linux now
And, u prove that u r a good programmer...
popularity(X) = f(ease(X),cost(X) ,features(X), same_things_for(Y));

Rite down to the semicolon :) Keep it up! Hey! can't u take off the word verification thing for the comments? Not too fun to type in mumbo jumbo words :)
Yeah, even in US, most or ur friends might have all the pirated s/w :) Its just that when i needed Office, I couldnt find my CD or a friend who can give it immediately :)) but thats not the sole reason too.
Yes pls start ahead with linux :) Ubuntu is an easy transformation. Fedora, RedHat etc were ok, but atleast a couple of years back setting internet connection was not straightforward. Now it might have changed. But still Ubuntu works like charm.
please dont call me programmer. call me mathematician......just kidding..
ok,Word verification removed :)
The money is in the corporate and for corporations support is super-important. Red Hat is one company that understands this, and now Oracle is starting to...
Right, but I would assume most chunk of money comes from regular consumers. Corporations are only a small fraction.
>> why is it that people talk so much of switching to Linux?

b'cos we're jealous! the 'converts' like the freedom to tweak stuff and utilize the creativity of millions of open source programmers out there in the wild. but we feel stupid having to struggle for small things (like plugins) which windows users get by default.

more linux users means more vendor support. so by switching to linux you make our life easier!

arun, what's this "veg vs non-veg" debate. that war is long over. the veggies won.

"veg vs. non-veg" is still not over. nobody lost. nobody won. but still, both of us won.
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