Vista reminds us that we have a choice

Vista has been so bad that it has reminded us that we have real choice again in computing.

In a post on Computerworld UK, tech writer Glyn Moody tackles the ever worsening outlook for Microsoft Vista, and comes up with an absolute gem of a thought in the process:

What's really important about this is not so much that Vista is manifestly such a dog, but that the myth of upgrade inevitability has been destroyed. Companies have realised that they do have a choice - that they can simply say "no". From there, it's but a small step to realising that they can also walk away from Windows completely, provided the alternatives offer sufficient data compatibility to make that move realistic.

Indeed. While Moody would undoubtedly like to see more of that Vista angst turn into Linux love, it's more likely that it's helping the Mac, which saw its market share jump again in November to nearly 9 percent, according to Net Applications.

For all the lame things Apple does (like fighting open-source iTunesDB to protect its DRM-heavy iTunes), and for all the great things that Microsoft has done, as Directions on Microsoft recently noted, Apple provides a viable, compelling alternative to Microsoft, and people are taking that choice.

To Moody's interest in desktop Linux, there is no reason to think that the move to the Mac will stop there. Once people have rediscovered choice, they're unlikely to trade one monopoly for another. I'm a good example: I love my Mac, but most of the applications I run on it are open source. When forced to work with an "office productivity" application, I split my time between Microsoft Office and OpenOffice (which I use almost exclusively for presentations because it has a better feature set).

That's what choice does: it doesn't mean we trade one overlord for another. It means we keep the competing overlords...competing.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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