The thrilling reign of Windows XP is barely a month old, so why am I spending all my time fiddling with a desktop box running Red Hat 7.2?
For one thing, the launch of Redmonds newest PC conquistador just happened to coincide with an initiative here at Ziff Davis to provide server-based access to messaging and network resources via a Citrix client. As a result, my key applications now work identically under Windows, Linux—or, for that matter, pretty much any operating system.
With those interoperability factors resolved, I suppose I just prefer the, if you will, Linux and KDE eXPerience.
Multitasking with a windowing operating system is a much less cluttered affair with multiple virtual desktops, a Linux standby not found in Windows. And while the GUI was a great usability advance, the trusty command line is, in some cases, the best place to get things done. In Linux, the command line is nearer the surface and much more tightly tied to the interface than it is in Windows.
Now, the best thing I can say about Windows XP is that it works, and while this may sound like a backhanded compliment, "just working" is the single most important feature of a mass-market product.
In its quest to place a licensed copy of Windows into the hands of every man, woman and child in the world, Microsoft has pushed a consistent, hand-holding interface across all its products.
The trouble with this appliancelike, "McOperating System" approach is that it leaves the hackers and tweakers of the world looking elsewhere for their OS. These are the people who are socked away inventing the next generation of killer applications, which, through the process of tech-world trickledown, will end up making money for big companies.
Windows has a hammerlock on todays most relied-upon applications, but troll the Web, and the ambition and inventiveness now at work in the open-source developer community is palpable.
Microsoft has been working to capture the enthusiasm of the worlds developers. I suggest that the best way to evangelize to these budding innovators is to put a version of Windows on their desks that doesnt belong alongside a Happy Meal.
Technical Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.