Monday, January 07, 2008


It seems that the New Year had beguiled a few blogger of renown to make some predictions for 2008.
Tim Bray, in his ongoing blog, actually has 4 predictions for 2008. The one that caught my eye (mainly because of the comments) was 2008 Prediction 2: Windows Looks Bad. Tim provides his own summary:
The strain due to the fact that most business desktops are locked into the Microsoft platform, at a time when both the Apple and GNU/Linux alternatives are qualitatively safer, better, and cheaper to operate, will start to become impossible to ignore.
The comments that followed were quite revealing. While many agreed with Tim's sentiments about how Windows compares to Mac OS X or Linux, a couple of comments stood out:

"wrong, wrong, wrong. Why is it that so many IT guys act as if migrating to Linux is such a simple experience that every novice user should/could do it? The average non-IT Windows user runs it because (a) it comes pre-installed (b) their favorite (pronounced "the one their friends or the sales guy recommended") app "x" was readily available, and (c) it closely matches that computer at work so that the daily mind shift is minimal.

Until inroads are made in all 3 of these areas, the market penetration for home users will continue to be minimal." [link]


"... the people I meet in my part of the world are in quite different position. Architects, designers, photographers, sound engineers, movie makers, ... (Btw., what is the term which describes all the above professions? Are those "content creators"?) simply don't have the tools to run under any free OS. There is no Autocad, nor AllPlan. No Rhinoceros, no AliasStudio. No Indesign, Photoshop (no, GIMP, doesn't count), Freehand (no, Inkscape doesn't count), Quark, Flash, Acrobat (not Reader). FontLab. Avid. Combustion. ProTools. Vegas. Capture One. And Lightroom... To sum it up, Windows may look bad but its applications look superb." [link]
though that last comment contrasts interestingly with an earlier one:
"...everything else you mentioned had to do with brain-dead applications from some of the worst companies: Adobe, Sun, and Symantec.

And I guarantee you that if we all start moving to Linux or OSX, these companies will start souring those OS's with their shoddy, annoying, anti-user software just as bad and people will keep buying it.

I'll give you that the OSX user experience, over all, is much better than XP, but without all the extraneous apps from Adobe, et al, XP isn't quite so bad. The real problem is app and driver vendors." [link]
Personally, I doubt that there will be much of a shift in 2008, but I don't think that's exactly what Tim was getting at. The point is that business, becoming dissatisfied with Windows (epecially Vista), will be looking even more closely at the viability of alternatives. The issue of lock-in is very real, especially as one commentator noted,
"...doesn't Office 2007 on Mac not support VBA? ... That is an instant dealbreaker for editors who use Word and heavy Excel users. AFAIK, investment/finance people live by their macros." [link]
Following some of the links from the comments led to interesting reading. Mark Pilgrim, in an entry titled 2008 is the year of Linux on the desktop, had this to say:
"So yeah, my parents switched to Linux because — among other reasons — it was easier to use with their iPod. That’s how badly Apple has lost the plot."
Far be it from me that I should criticise someone of Mark Pilgrim's stature, but I'm not sure who's really lost the plot here.

Stephen Downes took an entirely different tack, looking back at the predictions made a year ago for 2007. [link] It's a timely reminder of the perils of playing Nostradamus. Those who did best, for the most part, made broad predictions rather than specifics (though there was one notable exception).

My prediction for 2009 - we will look back at the prediction made for 2008 and wonder what we were thinking.