As people begin to see PCs as a platform to view the Internet rather than just a system to run Microsoft’s Office, Windows will have to work harder to stay ahead in the operating system business, says Ubuntu Linux founder mark Shuttleworth.
Asked in the ZATechShow podcast whether there wasn’t still a perception that Linux wasn’t ready for the desktop, Shuttleworth said: "I think it’s absolutely true. So long as people think of … the consumer desktop as the thing you use to run Microsoft Word, Linux isn’t going to be ready for the big time.
"But increasingly, I sense people thinking of the desktop as the thing that you use to access the Internet. And in that case Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular, are really phenomenal platforms. They are fast and safe and do a beautiful job of getting people onto the Internet."
Shuttleworth also said that devices such as the Asus EEE PC were important in making users more comfortable with Linux as a desktop operating system.
"The EEE PC is fantastic. You have millions of people going out and buying a device that they find very cool and fascinating. And they’re probably not even aware that it is running Linux. And I think that is great."
He said that when millions of people see these types of devices they will come to "realise that they work in a similar way [to Windows] and that there is a whole platform there they can relate to," which is positive for the perception of Linux.
Shuttleworth said that he is confident that there will be a shift away from Microsoft to other desktop platforms. "The world is ready for alternatives. People are seeing a PC as the thing that you use to surf the Web. So a Mac will do, a Linux box will do or Windows will do. That means Windows has to compete, genuinely compete."
But, says Shuttleworth, he is sure "Microsoft will respond. The next version of Windows will be better."