Windows and Linux
Microsofts next-generation client, Vista, didnt ship this year, as had been the plan back when it was known as Longhorn. However, on account of the companys September Professional Developers Conference, a couple of sneak-peek Vista community technology preview releases and overall cleverness value, Ill say that the fall is Microsofts.Its tempting to poke fun at Microsoft, but our pals from Redmond are No. 1 not just for their toughness but for their smarts, as well.Sure, the year thats passed has certainly been a tough one for the aging and too-frequently malware-infested Windows XP, but Windows Server 2003 is a sharp and well-put-together product, and Ive been pleased with what Ive seen in early tests of Release 2. (Stay tuned for a Windows Server 2003 R2 review early next month.) I havent assigned a season to Linux because there seemed to be a Linux for every season. From the buttoned-down and enterprise ISV-certified Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server distributions to the relative Wild West of Gentoo Linux, vendors and noncommercial organizations have managed to twist a potpourri of available free-software components into shapes to suit a wide range of user communities. Perhaps the most deeply rooted and quickly expanding of these communities is that surrounding Debian GNU/Linux, which released Sarge, its first major update since 2002, this year. As a noncommercial project, Debian has grown in relative quiet. But you should expect to hear more from Debian, both on its own and under the badge of its various derivatives, such as Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu, in fact, has caught many peoples attention with the friendly, more approachable face it has brought to Debian, both in terms of look and feel and of community. But just as compellingalthough perhaps less noticedare the efforts that Ubuntus backers are putting into cross-project collaboration tools, such as the Rosetta application localization, Malone bug-tracking and Bazaar code repository efforts. Like it or not, every one of the projects and vendors Ive mentioned here is now operating in an environment of expanding opennessorganizations and users are learning not to accept anything less. And collaborative efforts like these will bear fruit for all of ITs stakeholders. Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at email@example.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.