September 13, 2009

Linux backlash: Microsoft, YOLD and Marketing

Is Linux on a downswing?

I'm sure in terms of numbers, there is plenty of slow, continued, growth with Linux that's happening. But on my blogroll, the last couple weeks, there has been a slight but noticeably more negative tone then before. Is that because Linux is growing and when things get bigger they encounter more resistance? Or is it that Linux has hit some sort of wall for the time being where it gets to a certain size, gains more attention and the chorus of people pointing our out obvious flaws simply grows louder? I don't know

Three things fuel this question. Only one is really relevant, but there's three points I'm going to touch on anyway.

First point: Microsoft's recent attack on Linux via their Best Buy employee "Windows 7" training program. Microsoft had to scurry with the advent and rise of netbooks two years ago to head Linux off at the pass. Something it appears they've done quite successfully. Lets not forget how Microsoft achieved this. 1)They extended the life of XP (which helped with the Vista debacle anyway) 2) they gave away XP for free to get in on netbooks. When given the choice between Windows and Linux for no cost, people will choose windows almost 100% of the time because it's familiar.

But, to get back on track, Microsoft is training folks to steer the end-user to Windows7 for netbooks instead of Linux. Why? Is Linux still a threat for the netbook market? I honestly don't think at this point Linux is anymore of a threat there then in the desktop market. If you win the hardware've won the game. And to my knowledge, Windows ships on most netbooks nowadays.

Second and Third Point: Year of the Linux Desktop (YOLD)/Marketing

I have a lengthy blog entry written that has yet to get finished on why the Year of the Linux desktop simply isn't going to happen anytime soon, if ever. It's a painful admission to myself to make, but it is the truth. Until the last week or two I have not seen or heard anyone else (Linux types anyway) say that. I've read two different articles recently on that very topic though and I completely agree. So, my point right here is not that the YOLD won't happen, it's that there are a few other folks out there that feel the same way. Which means there are glaring issues within Linux that need dealing with before there's any sort of significant growth in the Desktop market. The single most important thing that simply is not being done? One word....MARKETING! We have hundreds of distros within the Linux community. A handful are sponsored by major corporations. So we have the capacity to both organize and come up with corporate sponsorship. We need to organize and run a Linux focused marketing organization the same way, and with the same vigor that the larger distros are organized and run. Debian, for example, has (I'm pretty sure) THOUSANDS of developers working on the project. Think or what we could do for Linux with that sort of drive and focus on marketing! It is the most important thing if we want to grow past our "niche".

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