Linux on the Desktop: The need for compromise
It has become something of a cliché that Linux has reached a critical point in its development and adoption. However, this is especially true now when we look at what events are lined up to occur in the near future, and particularly in the desktop area.
Perhaps the most visible event is the impending launch of Microsoft's Vista. Try as they might, this new OS shows every sign of needing hardware replacement, some user training, and considerable support staff training to be truly effective in deployment. Particularly note the last two, often cited as reasons why moving to Linux is expensive and fraught with danger. Of course, Linux doesn't have the added disadvantage of needing a hardware upgrade.
The second event on the horizon is the move to 64 bit hardware on the desktop. 64 bit hardware is commonplace in the datacenter and on Unix/Linux workstations, but not so common sitting on the average end user's desktop. Some may argue that 64 bit hardware just isn't needed on an average desktop. Quite probably, the same people said the same of the move from 16 bit to 32 bit desktops, and their children probably argued against the need to move from 8 to 16 bit machines.
Both of these events are natural places for people to pause and reconsider their whole environments, and any conscientious CIO is going to give the non-Microsoft alternatives a really long, hard look.
So, can we expect a sudden and dramatic shift to Linux on the desktop? Unfortunately, the answer is probably no. Unless some changes take place.