This comparison between Novell’s and Microsoft’s next operating systems is interesting because of who’s writing it: CRN is more business-oriented than the usual sites that review operating systems (it’s got “Reseller”, “Channel”, “VAR” and “Integrators” in the TITLE on the front page!); and CRN’s reviewers don’t really come across as major power users, despite the reference to “Test Center engineers”.
This isn’t such a bad thing, since it’s pretty much a given that the people that matter in the important desktop war – those inside corporations, and more particularly those inside particular corporations, like Dell, EA, Nvidia, etc – don’t really read Linux.com or NewsForge (or even more mainstream tech sites like Wired News or News.com that, admittedly, would be more likely to cover a Vista v SuSE comparison).
Of course we’ve seen Win v Lin comparisons before, but this one has an interesting angle in that these are both pre-release operating systems: Microsoft’s Vista, after many delays, is now due to ship in January; Novell’s SuSE Enterprise Desktop 10 is due next month. I think aligning SuSE against Windows in this way is a bit much – SuSE isn’t a Windows killer just yet – but it remains an interesting comparison.
Unfortunately plebs like you and me can’t make that comparison directly, because while Microsoft has gone all cuddly and opened up the Vista beta program to the masses, Novell has taken the more Microsoft-y route and forced us to sign up and wait for SuSE. Maybe Novell should try to break with their roots like Microsoft, and stop such being dweebs about pre-releases.
I did try OpenSuSE 10.1 recently though, and Fedora Core 5, Ubuntu 6.06 and Kubuntu 6.06 have all featured on my play drive since then; and like every time I install the latest Linux, I’m impressed with progress. The UI’s get better and better, the widgets get more usable, the eye candy gets prettier, the applications work better together. Unfortunately though, I boot back into XP every time.
Here’s the thing though: by the time Vista reaches the mainstream, I can’t see it even finding it’s way onto my machine, never mind being something I boot back into. Companies like Novell, slowly and incredibly painfully for people like me, are getting there. They’re realising, via innovative distros like Ubuntu and Kubuntu, that “Linux on the desktop” is moving from goal to reality.
They still have some hurdles to jump. For me, the biggest is the expectation that users will go out and make their own systems usable, a ludicrous assumption. We want our OS’s delivered with audio, video, filesystems, fonts, all that and more out of the box. We don’t want to go to wikis and slightly-dodgy-feeling off-campus websites to be pointed in the right direction.
January is a long way away, and Windows Vista needs an awful lot of work to become usable. Personally, I think January might be too far away, I think Microsoft may have shot themselves in the foot this time. Of course they won’t lose their market overnight, not even a tiny portion of it, but they should be crossing their fingers that it isn’t an important tiny portion.
Because, looking at Vista, I think crossing their fingers is about the best thing they can do. Operating systems in their current format are reaching their zenith, there’s really not much farther you can go without changing the concept entirely. When they’re pretty much all the same, bar pretty colours and a few bells and whistles, people are going to choose what’s cheapest. And Microsoft’s beat on that front.