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We are only 3/4 way through 2009 but there is overwhelming evidence that GNU/Linux on the desktop is mainstream, growing and healthy. The netbook phenomenon, ARM, the economy, and adoption of GNU/Linux by government and business have contributed to this movement. No one is ignoring it, making fun of it or fighting GNU/Linux effectively.

According to Gandhi, "First they ignore us. Then they make fun of us. Then they fight us. Then we win." That is all coming true today for GNU/Linux on the desktop. The confrontation stopped being fun in 2007. M$ had to fight. They had already cut the price of XP Home in China to a few dollars. In 2007, GNU/Linux was running rampant on millions of netbooks. It was out there being seen as usable by millions of customers of M$, consumers and employees alike. M$ cut the price of XP Home to a few dollars world-wide on netbooks. They finally had to compete on price or lose share. They made billions less than normal from the client division and blamed netbooks. To stem the bloodflow, M$ decided to dictate what could be a netbook and encouraged partners to drop GNU/Linux and to emphasize larger/more powerful notebooks. It did not work. Netbooks have 100% per annum growth and even outstrip notebooks in China.

Along comes ARM, a CPU design based on quite different principles than x86. ARM CPUs can get the job done with many fewer transistors so they are less expensive and use much less power than x86. For the cellular phone, ARM CPUs have been widespread. In 2009, the netbook began to use ARM to great advantage: less weight and longer batter life. ASUS who had started the commercialization of the netbook which OLPC had started, actually apologized to M$ in public when an ARM CPU was demonstrated on an ASUS machine. We can guess the terms of that sellout. The problem for M$ and Intel is that there are too many producers of ARM chips and netbooks to get them all to sell out. The advantages of ARM far outweight the advantages to an OEM of being on M$'s team, sales to hundreds of millions of new users of PCs in the emerging markets of the world. The netbook is now powerful enough to be a main PC and cheap enough to be afforded by most of the world. A potential market several times what Wintel and Apple have enjoyed. The latest ARM design is dual core, 2 gHz and 1/4 watt. It can run on anything a consumer or employee needs to do almost all IT. It could even be used in clusters for servers to solve the heat handling problem in server rooms. XP and "7" do not run on ARM.

So, M$ has to fight hard just to delay the inevitable triumph of GNU/Linux. They distributed FUD to retailers about imagined inadequacies of GNU/Linux. This means the know consumers are asking for GNU/Linux from retailers and the retailers need an explanation why they do not stock it. That is not sustainable. Competitors will spring up and thrive until the retailers who now tout M$'s wares become irrelevant. FUD about servers caused a mere blip in Netcraft's server surveys. Paying hosters to park sites on 2003 caused another blip but both blips did not last. M$ can only delay the inevitable. Christmas will be interesting. Will the new ARM netbooks be popular? Will M$ have another weak quarter for clients as everyone else recovers? This Christmas is M$'s last chance to thrive but they will have coal in their stocking, not candy. Too many people have seen GNU/Linux in 2009 for the good old days (for M$)  to come back.

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Comments about this article
writen by: koshman on 2009-09-30 12:05:04
Don't be silly, it's MS, not M$.
Other than that, I think this year Christmas is too soon to be in any way decisive, but in the long run you may just be right.
RE: ... written by koshman:
On The Desktop
writen by: doordoc007 on 2009-10-01 08:00:31
Great article, if perhaps it concentrates a little to much on slamming M$. I agree with you that the the first place GNU/Linux will be accepted by retail consumers is in emerging markets. If will eventually supplant commercial OS. The time line you propose may be a tad optimistic. I for one won't miss it!
RE: On The Desktop written by doordoc007:
writen by: Badger_Badger on 2009-12-09 03:06:43
It is difficult to take an article seriously when the person who concocted it uses a juvenilism like "M$". Really, it's a stupid as using a pretentious solecism such as "fora" as the plural case of "forums" to indicate a knowledge of latin, for heavens' sake!

As for Pogson's main contention about the adoption rate and mass acceptance of Linux, well, the economic crisis has been going on for a year so far, and there is NO empirical evidence to think that Linux use on the desktop is increasing at all.

It is people like this, writing "articles" like this, who cause all Linux users to be tarred as self-deluded, juvenile shills.
RE: Fail. written by Badger_Badger:

Comment title: * please do not put your response text here