Tuesday, April 03, 2007


What I Want

I was interested in reading comments that Paul Thurrott and the Ubuntu blog make about what sorts of computers people want to have as opposed to what they have to have.

It was certainly a pragmatic decision when I switched to Windows back in the mid-1990s; my job was for a company that wrote Windows software, and as such that was what I needed to have for work. The jobs were available on the Windows side, and that was where it was at. I suppose I "wanted" Windows at that point for the simple reason that I wanted to have a greater variety of professional choices available to me.

When I develop software these days, I'm still primarily doing Windows development, but even then I'm also working with technologies that aren't at all OS depended like Salesforce.com. And I've always been a bit more of a generalist more than a specialist when it comes to software and development.

The "default choice" is Windows -- if you go into most general stores that sell computer hardware, you're going to see them pushing Windows. When Apple said "Think Different", they were talking about thinking different from Windows users. In most work environments, unless they're in a specialized industry, all of the work computers except a few in marketing are going to be running Windows. I'm wondering if that is changing as we see Apple stores appearing in more and more shopping malls -- if I was go average user in a major metro area, it is easier for me to find and talk to an employee of Apple than it is to talk to an employee of Microsoft.

Now days, with Intels being the core of almost all new personal computers you've got some options -- my Mac isn't just a good machine to run OS X on, but it's also a good machine to run Vista on (and I'm tempted to be uber-geek and install Ubuntu as well). But I'm not a normal computer user -- it's been a hobby, my education, and my career since I was a teenager. I wanted a Mac partially because I could have one piece of hardware running multiple operating systems.

Most people don't really want to think about their computer that much. They don't really "want" a computer at all -- not in the sense that I do or the way other IT professionals do. So they get whatever is most convenient -- perhaps because of the games that they play, or they want a computer that's easy to use, or whatever. I'm sure that means that Linux has some adoption challenges -- even if it is user friendly enough that real people can use it without having hardcore IT skills and turning into Tron Guy.


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