Linux on the Rise

So here, just for the fun of it, is me playing armchair analyst, because everyone likes to do that. Anyway, I'm seeing a lot more buzz about Linux recently. This isn't just on enthusiast sites, but working its way into the mainstream (not quite there yet, but getting there). Multiple computer makers are rolling out Linux based computers for consumer purchase, and Linux seems to be finally making a dent on the desktop - if not in market share, at least in availability. About the best example of this I've seen recently is this article about Dell working on a Linux driver framework for the last few years. This is big. Dell is pretty much the Wal-Mart of computer makers - cheap and common (in fact, Dell now sells computers at Wal-Mart, and no other North American retail outlets). If they've been working this hard on Linux, they must see a future in it. I expect this is due to two factors. (1) Linux is maturing as an operating system - its becoming easier to use, more things can be done in the GUI instead of a terminal window, and they have some really graphically advanced GUIs, that have features that Windows doesn't - basically, its becoming more possible for the average user to run Linux (2) Microsoft has been making a major mess of things - Vista has been near-universally panned - the only update it has of any consequence is some graphical chrome, and that chrome eats system resources to a ridiculous degree. Add the fact that Windows costs hundreds of American dollars, and you're alienating most of the emerging markets of the world. Basically, Microsoft has dropped the ball, and alternatives like the Mac OS and Linux have a window to make some space for themselves - which they are taking advantage of. My prediction is that unless Microsoft can make Windows 7 (expected 2010-ish) the operating system that Vista should have been (they had 6 years to work on it - it should have been better), they will never have the level of market dominance they had with Windows xp ever again. Given enough time, OS X and Linux can carve out big enough niches that Windows is forced to interoperate, at which point it will never be able to return to its former monopoly position again. People have been saying this for years, but there hasn't been this good of an opportunity for competition in a very long time, as Microsoft hasn't screwed up this badly since it instituted its OS monopoly.