Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Desktop Linux and Microsoft's OEM Power

TechNewsWorld has an opinion piece up about how Linux May Never be a True Desktop OS. In it, Rob Enderle reiterates all the tired, old reasons for thinking this, like "Free" not meaning "Free", and how Linux installations are too "different", raising end-user support costs. All nonsense. I've talked about this before. The real reason why Linux hasn't made inroads into the desktop (and may never) is because of Microsoft's power in the OEM market, enforced and maintained by their draconian OEM licensing agreements. This example is rather dated, and MS has reportedly altered this to allow some cosmetic Desktop and start menu options after the US vs. Microsoft anti-trust case was settled. Head over to Kuro5hin for one of the best explanations I've seen that substantiates MS's OEM power to squash desktop competition. As that article indicates, MS still controls the end-user bootup process, something that killed off BeOS and, according to the US DOJ, seems to be a pending concern with Vista:

Plaintiffs have received a complaint regarding the ability of OEM's to customize the first-boot experience in Vista, and in particular concerning the Welcome Center, a new interface that presents the user with various setup options and commercial offers (presented by Microsoft and OEMs) at the end of the initial out-of-the-box experience. Plaintiffs are also talking with several industry members who have expressed additional concerns regarding aspects of Windows Vista.

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