I’ve tried to mostly ignore the end of Windows XP, as I noted in an earlier column about it. But I ran across an article that I just had to cover here. Infoworld has a meandering column that expresses serious doubts about replacing Windows XP with Linux. It comes complete with a graphic of a hideous looking penguin with yellow and red eyes that looks like something out of somebody’s nightmare. Yes, the media has been reduced to using scary looking penguins to dissuade people from using Linux.
I’m very glad that the author admits to being a “Windows guy” at the beginning of the article. At least he’s being up front about it, and that’s rather refreshing. That said, I disagree with most of his conclusions. He’s clearly stuck in the mid 1990s or so in his mindset while the rest of the world has moved on from those days of complete Microsoft domination of the computing world. I give him props for noting that he has tried other operating systems and platforms, but he doesn’t seem to have gotten much out of them as the Windows-centric mindset still seems to dominate his thinking.
Moving to Linux also means giving up most business software you and your users know. Mac users have struggled with this dilemma for decades, but they have a much wider variety of business software options than Linux users do. If you’re struggling with software parity for Macs, see what happens when you bring in Linux.
When your XP users come in and see their new computer running Windows 7 (or 8) with Office 2013, they might be nervous, and they might need some training to get up to speed with 10 years of Windows development. But they will not be completely lost. They will, however, be lost if you switch them to any other operating system: OS X, Linux, Chrome OS, Android OS, or whatever.
Furthermore, the hoops you’ll have to jump through to get those OSes integrated into your enterprise will have you regret the day you wanted to break free from the Microsoft mothership. Face it: It’s not “you will be assimilated.” You already have been assimilated. Admit it, and move on.
Image credit: InfoWorld
Windows XP and older computers
One of his assertions is that there’s “no legitimate reason to avoid Windows 7.” Well, in the case of older computers running Windows XP, there sure is an important reason. Windows 7 and Windows 8 both consume more in terms of system resources than Windows XP ever did. Some older computers simply couldn’t run the more recent versions of Windows very well, but they are quite capable of running a wide range of desktop Linux distributions.
Wikipedia has a good list of lightweight Linux distributions that would work very well as alternatives to Windows XP on older computers or recent computers that don’t have a lot of horsepower in them.
Windows XP software is no excuse for avoiding Linux
I also don’t buy the argument about not being able to run Windows software either. There are plenty of replacements for Windows applications, and if you really need to run the actual Windows apps you can certainly do so via Wine, CrossOver or even by running Windows XP itself in VirtualBox on your Linux desktop. I get so sick of the tired old blather that Windows applications are some sort of magical reason to stay with Windows forever.
Here are some helpful links if you are looking for alternatives to Windows applications:
Linux App Finder: Windows Software Alternatives
Linux Links: Linux Equivalents to Windows Software
Open Source Alternative: Open source software alternatives
Android for PC and Chrome OS as alternatives to Windows XP
He mentions Android PCs and takes a negative view of them. I think it’s far too early to pass judgement on Android for PCs. I took a peek at Amazon’s bestselling desktop list and sure enough number twenty on that list was the Acer DA220HQL 21.5-Inch Android All-in-One Touchscreen Desktop. So people are already warming up to Android on the desktop, and I think we’ll see it grow significantly in the days ahead.
And Android isn’t the only Linux variant that’s proving popular with users. When I looked at the list of bestselling desktops at Amazon, I was surprised to find that the number one device was the ASUS CHROMEBOX-M004U Desktop. Given the popularity of Chromebooks, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sales position of the Asus Chromebox. It seems that Chrome OS is turning out to be a huge hit with users on the desktop as well as on laptops.
I also reject the silly notion that users will be “completely lost” if their computers had Linux, OS X, Chrome OS or Android on them. The author of the article seems to have forgotten that the mobile revolution has many people using one OS on the desktop and another on their phones or tablets. Users have learned how to use other operating systems so switching from Windows to Linux on the desktop is not going to be as big of a deal as he suggests. The Amazon links I posted above clearly demonstrate that users are certainly not having problems switching to Android or Chrome OS.
Reject assimilation by Microsoft and Windows
I found the idea that everybody should just accept “being assimilated” by Microsoft to be bizarre and offensive. Nobody owes Microsoft any sort of loyalty nor should users blithely accept whatever Microsoft offers them. I don’t want to be assimilated by anybody, especially Microsoft. For that reason alone I’d dump Windows and move to Linux, OS X, Chrome OS or Android in a heartbeat if I was using Windows XP.
I think what we’re seeing in articles like the one from InfoWorld is the last gasp of those still loyal to Microsoft’s operating system hegemony. Folks like this are really and truly stuck in the past. A lot of us are already way past that mind-set, and more and more people are joining us each day. I feel sorry for those who’s computing world view still revolves almost completely around Microsoft and Windows, it’s a very dismal place to be with so many exciting things going on in open source.
The end of Windows XP is a great opportunity to dump Microsoft and move on to open source. I think the smart companies and individuals will do it and not look back. Sure, there are bound to be challenges and issues, but in the end they’re all worth it to be finally be free of Microsoft’s yoke.
What’s your take on this? Tell me in the comments below.