Just a few months back, the target date for Microsofts next-generation version of Windows, dubbed “Longhorn,” seemed to be moving into the distance faster than a skeet on a shooting range. Turning this situation on its head, company executives recently set a firm date—sometime in 2006—for the release of a Longhorn operating system. But now, its the Longhorn feature set thats in flux.
For many in the industry, Microsofts sudden shift in strategy looks like a golden opportunity. But theres a rub: Its Microsoft and Windows that were talking about here, the worlds largest software developer and the worlds most popular operating system, respectively.
The candidate often volunteered to take advantage of Microsofts Longhorn troubles is a Linux desktop. A number of companies are either offering such a package now or planning one for the near future. And a growing list governmental agencies around the world have expressed interest in shifting off of the Windows platform for some open-source alternative.
But is Linux the best choice for business and consumer clients? Here are two differing viewpoints:
“Microsoft has often managed to freeze the market with promises that no matter how great a competitors current program is, Microsofts next program will be so much better that only a fool would settle for a bird in the hand instead of the two in the Microsoft bush. We have been such fools,” he says.
“No, Microsoft has finally shown that its bag of tricks is empty. Now is the time for Linux vendors to get their act together and deliver the best possible Linux desktop.”
But theres plenty of room for disagreement.
“Using this sort of measurement, one might even say Longhorns trouble improves desktop Linuxs chances by 100, 1,000 or even one million times. Its just that youre starting with such a tiny chance that even a big multiplier doesnt make it much larger in practical terms.”
According to Coursey, Linux is not a good choice for user desktops. “It is possible for a motivated user—whether by anti-Microsoft sentiment, a light wallet or the desire to be a technological Flying Wallenda—to build a useful Linux desktop. Ive even built one myself,” he adds.
Courseys potential candidate to counter Longhorn will surprise many.