Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is Windows 8 a Linux killer?

ITWorld has published an interesting ARTICLE about Windows 8 OEM specs that sounds quite worrying for us Linuxers. It's a little bit complex and involves legal issues, so I very much recommend reading it, but it comes down to this: Windows 8 certified computers will make it very hard for Linux users to install their favorite OS, and dual booting sounds impossible at this stage with the information we have.

WHAT IS THE RISK?

Tough to say at this stage, but it certainly sounds like an actual threat. In real terms, though, if we look at how slowly Windows 7 is growing when compared to Windows XP in terms of market share, it would take a long, long time before we run out of hardware options. Many large corporations are still on XP, ready to squeeze it to the last drop before they have to put big money on the table to transition to Windows 7. When they do, though, it is highly unlikely they will be willing to quickly invest into moving to Windows 8, specially considering the radical changes brought to the picture by its new Metro interface. Long story short, I believe corporations won't see any reason to move to Windows 8 in the next few years, which will force hardware manufacturers to continue to support more conventional (and incidentally Linux friendly) computers.

Another interesting fact is that Linux is second to none when it comes to mobile devices. Android is groing faster than its competition, clearly leading as the OS most manufactures build mobile devices for. Considering the recent changes in GNOME and KDE (Plasma active), as well as Ubuntu's Unity, it wouldn't be crazy to think the preferred hardware target for Linux users in a few years could be Android compatible tablets. Who knows when things move and change so fast!?

Last but not least, Linux users still have an interesting option available: If Linux does one thing very well is getting the most out of old hardware. Therefore, if it comes to that, Linux users should still be able to use their favorite distro on their current hardware and stick to it for years before they need to think of an alternative.

ONLY TIME WILL TELL...

Windows 8 is still very much in the works and things around it may still change, so we will have to wait and see how things eventually unfold. The great thing is that it doesn't seem like we will run out of options any time soon, even if Microsoft wants the Penguin extinguished.

NOTE: Thanks to Andrew at WebUpd8 for his article on this topic!

13 comments:

  1. says linux is no longer a threat
    *brutally fucks up every chance linux has in the market*

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  2. The future for me is that I just will by Linux compatible machines, no dual boot needed for me.
    So, not a threat for me and who cares what Microsoft does.
    We will see if that will happen in the European Union without issues for Microsoft.
    Of course it seems not to be good for dual booters and if you by a "cheap" machine with Win8 preinstalled and then cannot install your Linux OS.
    But we are making panic at the moment, there is still time.

    @Nick: "*brutally fucks up every chance linux has in the market*"

    Could be but really, the market share at the moment is still not there for Linux. I personally do not care anymore about this. That is why such distros like Ubuntu are loosing some of their users.

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  3. As I see it I don't think the EU will let this slip out of it's hands but on an even bigger note unless Microsoft start making their own hardware I can't believe that manufactures will lock themselves into Microsoft only. As i see it there would rather invest to have the keys switched on by default but with the option to "flick the switch'.

    Also another item to mention is if Google ChromeOS version of computing gains any attention in the coming years all this may just not be needed!

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  4. We'll find some way around this, I'm sure. For desktops I intend to just build them myself from here on out. The one place this could cause real problems for people is on laptops.

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  5. Thanks all for your comments, very interesting points!

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  6. Well, I hope the Linux community can surpass this (yet another) obstacle. If that means making a bootloader with a different kind of licensing (non-GPL), so be it. Although I can see some trouble in more purist distros like Debian or Fedora to adopt such a bootloader, distros like OpenSUSE, Mint or Mandriva should deliver whatever is needed to work.

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  7. Even if dual boot is not an option, we'll be able to have virtual machine with Linux running in W8, won't we?

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  8. ... and it failed. Never mind.

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  9. Greg, why do you think it failed? Your comments didn´t show until I approved them, not sure I get what failed?

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  10. Nope, it is not but the title is very good to attract readers ;-)

    On the other hand, that hardware lock...

    Crow

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  11. Oops, somebody made a typo:

    "one thing is clear: dual-booting systems will be out of the picture if Windows 8 boots always require a hardened boot environment."

    Should read:

    "one thing is clear: Windows 8 will be out of the picture if boots always require a hardened boot environment."

    If I can't dual-boot, one OS will have to go. Guess which?

    "It may very well be that once you turn off secure boot (if you can), you won't be able to run Windows 8 again on that machine, until you re-secure the boot process."

    Oh, wait -- the whole article is a tempest in a teapot. To boot Linux, simply turn off secure boot. To boot W8, turn it back on. An extra step, to be sure, but hardly a Linux killer. And how long before a hack comes out to disable W8's secure-boot check?

    This sounds like yet another garden-variety MS attempt to lock down the PC in its favor. Whatever happened to "Trusted Computing"?

    Trust me -- Linux has nothing to worry about.

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  12. I seriously hope that tech or Linux interest groups can lobby against microsoft's monopolization attempts of the PC OS market.

    I doubt that every oem manufacturer will go along with a single OS alternative.

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