This is the second of five predictions for 2008, expanded from the short form generated on short notice as described here.
Prediction · The short version:
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.
Experience · Around our house, we have screens connected to Windows XP, OS X, and Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Ubuntu and OS X are easier to install, less trouble to maintain, and more pleasant to use. If we were tracking the time we spend maintaining these things, I’m willing to bet that Windows takes more care & feeding than the other two put together. Down the road we’ll have Windows only for games, I think.
We also provide tech support for our mothers, a local Pilates studio, and various random friends, local and remote. Wherever we can, we’re steering them to OS X just because they’ll experience less pain and be more productive.
Pain · These days, when you live mostly on OS X & Ubuntu, XP is just incredibly irritating. There’s always something pestering you to update it: Adobe, Java, Norton, whatever. Plus random other whining from the bottom right corner of the screen, about unused icons and firewall security and so on.
As for my family & friends who aren’t pros, and who haven’t been under the tutelage of one either, their Windows boxes are mostly smoking, diseased, quivering heaps of goo. Who’s got the time to deal with that shit?
Why I Might Be Wrong · I haven’t spent any time with Vista. Possibly, after a couple of releases, it’ll make Windows competitive again.
From the Business Point of View · I talk to the individuals and small businesses who are still running Windows, and I compare them to those who’ve escaped, and it’s just not close. Recently I was helping Mairin get her system set up—a Mac mini, which BTW is a fabulous computer for a small business—and was showing her how to do something and she said “But that’s so easy? Why?” and I said “Well, that’s how things work on this system” and she said “Well, why are people still using Windows then?”
The Future · Microsoft’s continuing extraction of monopoly rents is dependent, near as I can tell, on just two things:
MS Office staying good enough that people don’t mind paying the fearful Windows tax that goes with it. Except for, Office runs better on OS X than on Windows.
The Exchange/Outlook lock-in. This seems the big one to me.
Like I Said · This problem is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore. Especially now that nearly everyone has someone in the family with a Mac.