Linux Prospects, Post-Windows 7

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 21, 2009

With the release of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system slated for tomorrow, several Linux releases and announcements are arriving. Paula Rooney at ZDNet suggests that the Linux flurry may represent wave-making in reaction to the release of the much discussed new version of Windows. Does Windows 7 threaten to stifle Linux, and what are the prospects for Linux as Windows 7 rolls out?

As Rooney notes, this week IBM and Canonical announced the launch of the IBM Cliet for Smart Work package. It allows cloud- and Linux-based online work via Ubuntu and IBM's Lotus Symphony suite of productivity applications. Novell has also introduced SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 Service Pack 3, which brings many software upgrades and more support for hardware. Meanwhile, Red Hat is out with a new beta release of its Fedora Linux dubbed "Constantine." Is the timing of all of this meant to make waves as Windows 7 approaches?

As we noted here, Microsoft was very shrewd to open its beta and release candidate testing for its new operating system to anyone, and the company got a slew of pre-orders for Windows 7 through the effort, as well as good early reviews. The company has also already delivered the new OS to Microsoft's volume licensees. The actual Windows 7 rollout has been a multi-step process and doesn't just consist of fanfare to take place tomorrow.

Microsoft has stated that it is aiming Windows 7 squarely at the hot netbook market, and it's there that I'm hoping Linux and Linux-based platforms can maintain some entrenchment. Large computer makers such as Acer and Dell have continued with efforts to keep Linux and Linux-based operating systems alive on netbooks. Acer is even going to offer a dual-boot version of its Aspire One netbook that runs Windows as well as Android.

The netbook market has largely been driven by rock-bottom pricing, and open source operating systems and applications can continue to usher in impressive prices. That's the stated goal with netbooks that will run the Moblin operating system, for example.

But Windows 7 is also likely to gain strong market share as a desktop operating system, partly because there hasn't been a completely trustworthy version of Windows for businesses to bank on in many years. Microsoft hopes to reverse that trend with Windows 7. Large players on the Linux front continue to fail to market Linux with the same fervor that Microsoft markets Windows, and the marketing blitz that will surround Windows 7 could be a blow to desktop Linux. We'll see how this all plays out soon, but I'm especially watching the prospects for Linux and variants on mobile devices. There, where cost and choice have been so important, Linux has a chance to make a difference.