Will Windows XP Users Chuck Their OS for Ubuntu?

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 05, 2010

How married are you to your favorite operating system, whether it is Linux, the Mac OS, a version of Windows or another OS? The answer to that is more complicated than many people immediately realize, and the answer may also hold substantial promise for Linux, because the operating system market is competitive in ways that it hasn't ever been before, and Microsoft's OS strategy remains at a crossroads. Here is why Linux may have strong opportunities in the current OS market, and why it may still face significant hurdles in attracting widespread adoption.

As The VAR Guy notes in an interesting post, the Ubuntu community has been aggressively reaching out to Windows XP "orphans" who are no doubt deemed to be prime candidates to become Linux converts. He writes:

"As Windows XP fades into the sunset, Ubuntu community members are trying to reach out to millions of Windows XP users to get them to switch to Linux. The Ubuntu pitch is pretty simple: Stick with your existing Windows XP hardware and switch to Ubuntu, rather than spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars on a new PC running Windows 7."

Indeed, Microsoft has hit the brakes on providing ongoing support for Windows XP, and since support is an often cited reason why people favor Windows over Linux, one would assume that there might be a big opportunity to woo some new Linux users. However, the "hundreds (or thousands)" of dollars referred to above for a Windows 7 machine is worth keeping in perspective.

I recently bought a Windows 7 laptop with substantial resources for $450 new. It's a speed demon. Windows 7 has been a resounding success with critics and users, and has dug Microsoft out of a multi-year hole that Windows Vista created.  Still, it is more expensive for Windows XP users to switch to Windows 7 than it is to adopt Ubuntu, no doubt.

There is another important aspect of all this, which is that it's likely that more and more users will use Linux, over time, in conjunction with another operating system. I use Linux, Windows, and the Mac OS. I see unique advantages to all of them. As I pointed out in the post "The Irreplaceable OS" the issues that pertain to just chucking a favorite operating system are sticky. It's just not that easy to dump one and adopt another. Linux does have a future with Windows users who may be unfamiliar with it, but I suspect that they will increasingly use it in conjunction with Windows, not as a complete replacement for it.