Linux-powered operating systems have become user-friendly for quite some time and long gone are the times when you needed Linux knowledge to make an OS work. However, people still make assumptions about the open source world, but they are usually wrong. Are Windows users disappointed in what Linux has to offer? Is Linux a proper contender as a desktop operating system?
Linux has been dominating the server market for years and there is no sign that that is changing anytime soon. On the other hand, Linux is doing rather poorly in the desktop market, which is dominated by Windows. A current Linux user will tell you that, besides some differences between the construction and the usage of a Linux operating system and a Windows one, the two solutions are similar. So, what is happening and why aren't the disgruntled or bored Windows users fleeing by the millions to Linux?
There might be a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration. Even if Linux is a completely free solution, people still choose to use Windows, which costs money (and this includes all those OEMs that are being forced onto systems) and this looks like a paradox.
Let’s take a simpler example. A bakery is making all kinds of muffins and they decide to promote them. People who enter the bakery can choose between two kinds of muffins, one that is completely free and one that costs money. Both have similar flavors, are baked in similar ovens; one has chocolate chips, the other is sprinkled with cocoa and cinnamon. Different, but both are pretty good.
The owner of the bakery notices that people choose to pay money for a muffin and almost ignore the free ones. Why would they do that? At first glance it doesn't seem to make any sense.
Food, just like the operating systems, is a rather personal item and people tend to stick with the choices they made, even if they are the wrong ones. People are creatures of habit and they don't usually take any action to change that habit unless acted upon with an outside force.
Our society also attributes value to money. If a certain thing costs money, it must be better than the free one. Our daily experience tells us that if you want something of quality you need to pay for it, and that might also transcribe in how people think about Linux.
A third reason is probably the legacy that Linux is carrying around. The open source solution is often seen as a difficult thing to understand and operate, even though things have changed tremendously in the past decade.
So, we can assume that only a fraction of the people who have tried the free muffins chose to stick with them. There are so many Windows users and it's easy to suspect that lots of them try Linux and then return to Windows, otherwise Linux would have gathered quite a following over the years.
Is it possible that Windows users try Linux today and it's still not what they were expecting? Why is Linux not an appealing alternative and solution and what needs to be done in order to change this?